The Yoga Tutor

Meditation Obstacles

[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 527 ]

Dhyana can only come when the senses have been mastered and the mind is unperturbed; or as Swami Gitananda Giri put it, "[dhyana is] something which occurs when all previous works have been done."

The state of dhyana is the field of the disciplined mind freed from all desires. As the mind is our vehicle to the Supreme, so too can it be a hindrance to that same goal if uncontrolled. According to Sage Patanjali, there are nine principle obstacles to meditation:
  1. Vyadhi - Disease
  2. Styan - Dullness
  3. Samshaya - Doubt
  4. Pramad - Procratination
  5. Alasya - Laziness
  6. Avirati - Worldly mindedness
  7. Bhranti Darshan - Illusion (delusion)
  8. Alabdhabhum Ikatwa - Inability to achieve higher states of consciousness
  9. Anavasthitatwa - Inability to maintain higher states achieved

Patanjali mentions these obstacles more precisely in terms of their hindrance to the successful practice of yoga altogether. Yet, as all of our efforts in the science of yoga are intended to lead us towards the ultimate states of higher consciousness, these nine obstacles can really be seen as obstacles in the end to achieving the samyama. All of our yoga practices thus far systematically address each of these primary impediments, paving the way towards success at the higher realms.

"Meditation is an exalted state of being which is produced by a moral and ethical, pure lifestyle; control of the body and breath through Asana and Pranayama; transcendence of and freedom from the imprisonment of the senses in Pratyahara. Practices of Dharana, exercises in concentrating and focusing the mind must be perfected. Only then is one able to even speak of meditation, let alone experience it."
~ Dr. Swami Gitananda Giri Gurumaharaj

It can be said that meditation is not something that you 'do'. Rather, it is something that 'happens to you' as a result of the completion of all the necessary preparations and disciplined efforts. Thus, all that one hears and reads about meditation and meditation techniques should be evaluated in light of this proper understanding.

Many popular techniques may not lead one near to dhyana (meditation) at all, but rather simply 'quiet the mind'. As Swami Gitananda continues:

"Real meditation transcends the body, the sway of the senses, and the pre-occupation of thinking through the subconscious mind. There is no such state 4as non-transcendental meditation. All meditation is transcendental!"


NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.

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