dharana dhyana samadhi - inward focus

This week, the last three limbs of Patanjali’s 8 fold path – Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Enlightenment). These all have an internal focus.

The first 5 limbs prepare us for the last 3 limbs which take our awareness inwards. The first 5 limbs are how we live in the external world – from the yamas and niyamas in how we behave and conduct ourselves, the asanas and pranayama our physical poses and the breath; and pratyahara, keeping the senses in check – ready to move inwards to these last 3 limbs.

The body has been settled through asana, the mind through pranayama and the senses are under control through pratyahara, we are ready for dharana – concentration.


Dharana refers to us holding our concentration internally – focussing our attention, holding that concentration. The mind holds that concentration, not wandering through memories of the past or plans for the future.

The mind is ready for this concentration.

From dharana we move to dhyana or meditation where we focus our awareness inwards, to begin to realise our true nature. And when we realise our true nature we attain Samadhi – enlightenment, or pure awareness of our identity.

So we prepare ourselves for dharana through asana and pranayama practice as they create some space and discipline in our bodies and minds. When we are able to concentrate we can then meditate and are ready for Samadhi.

In a practical sense, we can practice meditation in anything we do, whether it’s a walk along the beach, drinking your morning coffee, eating breakfast. Focusing your attention on the present moment, and when you become absorbed in an activity so much so that it is like you are ‘in flow’ with the activity, this can be a form of Samadhi. Pure presence. Pure awareness of the here and now.

Reflecting this week on when it is most easy to concentrate, to focus your attention on what you are doing and bring your awareness fully to the task at hand….. where you find yourself ‘in flow’.

Resolving this week to be aware of the activities in your life that provide this total absorption and how they make you feel. Perhaps incorporating more of these activities in your day?