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The eighth and final step in Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga is samadhi. The word samadhi literally means “putting together” and is often translated as “integration” or “absorption.” The eighth limb is the practice of the entire program (the other seven limbs) as well as the final attainment of being. Through dharana and dhyana, samadhi unfolds.
The liberation of this state comes from transcending the confines of the ego. You are no longer wrapped up in the trappings of like, dislike, judgment, worry, and fear. You become completely absorbed in the present moment, at all times, while remaining in total awareness. This is a pure state of being. As you go through your daily tasks, you are no longer replaying the past or looking into the future. You are immersed in the enjoyment of each moment as a sacred act.
Samadhi brings you freedom from the cycle of karma, which is a result of never-ending desires (vasanas) and memories (sanskaras). What this means is that you will still have desires, such as hugging your children or eating food, but you won’t be a prisoner of the melodramatic cycle that karma brings. As the ego is continually concerned with what’s “me” and “mine,” your higher self knows that there is never a lack of anything because there is no separateness. Therefore, all fear subsides and what is left is pure love.
Since there is no separation between you and the object of your desire, you will experience instantaneous manifestation. In the state of samadhi, you cannot see anything but oneness between yourself (the subject) and anything else (the object). The translation of absorption for the word samadhi explains this phenomenon. If you are not separate from that which you desire, then you already have the object of your desires. So theoretically, when you desire your soulmate, money, a baby, a new job, or a new house, from a place of samadhi, your energy field attracts it because you are it and it is you.
Worry, anxiety, and fear are all the polar opposites of samadhi because those states stem from the false notion that there is some sort of wall in between your needs, wants, and desires and their fulfillment.
Manifestation power in this state goes beyond detachment of the fifth and sixth limbs and surrender of the seventh limb because in those instances you are still entertaining the idea that you are separate from your Divine essence. But in samadhi, you are the Divine Creator, fully realized, as the illusion of anything separate falls away like an old layer of skin.
As we reach the state of pure bliss (ananda), all of our suffering goes away. We truly realize we are in this world but not of this world. This enlightened view allows for clarity in all including clairvoyance—knowledge of past, present, and future, and the mental state of others—complete control of the senses, and even supernatural powers.
Even beliefs have no place, in this state, as beliefs are notions, ideas, and concepts whereas samadhi comes from true experience. The sense of knowingness illuminates you from the inside out and no one or nothing can take away what you know to be true.
Like a flitting butterfly, samadhi is elusive to those who directly seek it. Yet, this eternal bliss is something we all seek. Many who seek heavenly bliss turn to drugs, alcohol, pornography, excessive eating or shopping, gambling, or incessant play of video games. While all of these activities can take us to pleasurable present moments, which may seem transcendent, these are known as false samadhis. They actually create a karmic deficit that brings us to lower lows even though the highs feel so good.
Lower samadhis, which don’t create deficits, are experiences we can have in peak experiences, such as climbing up to a mountain peak, a “runner’s high,” or intimacy with a loved one. These experiences create momentary oneness and help us to understand transcendence.
And so we end where we began. We understand fully from whence we came and embrace also where we are going. In the final sutra, Patanjali speaks of Kaivalya, or independence, absoluteness, and liberation—the results of which are a gift from attainment of pure awareness.
Practicing the eight limbs of yoga reflects a roadmap given to us by Patanjali to free us from the confines of social conditioning, collective ego, and personal ego. Constant discipline and daily practice help each of us to rise up and break the old patterns and habits. While we might not attain samadhi in this lifetime, we are certainly better off and more evolved as humans when we practice the eight limbs.
Finally, as you grow, remember to treat yourself with compassion, love, understanding, and forgiveness. You will fail, fall back into your old patterns, and forget what you’ve learned—that is inevitable. Always remember your own divinity. Remember that you are filled with absolute love and nothing less. And most of all, remember that’s it’s a journey and not a destination.