Saturday, September 25, 2010


Sutra 3.4 “The three together – dharana, dhyana and Samadhi – constitute integration or samyama.” (Iyengar translation)
Ok, first for me, find out what integration means on a semantic level, Merriam Webster:

Definition of “Integrate”:
1 : to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : unite
2 : to find the integral of (as a function or equation)
3 a : to unite with something else b : to incorporate into a larger unit
4 a : to end the segregation of and bring into equal membership in society or an organization b : desegregate

So I’m back at the subject of unite and oneness a unified whole. When I read Desikachar and Iyengar I understand that samyama is a describing concept of what goes on.
I relate to samyama as a description of a process in which dharana (removal of obstacles, concentration), dhyana (staying in focus, meditation) and Samadhi (unification of the seer and the object, absorption) is not always chronologically connected but happens in the now as a movement and a stillness. They happen at once. There is an evolvement but it is more like the breath, expanding and contracting.

Iyengar describes it as a depth, where dharana brings stability in mind, dhyana develops maturity in intelligence and Samadhi acts to diffuse the consciousness. “The intermingling of mind, intelligence and consciousness is samyama of the three.” At the deep level, within the mind, the intelligence and the consciousness is the seer.

(Iyengar also writes that a samyami is a person who subdues her passions and remains motionless. It relates to a theme of abstinence and ahimsa, which is growing in me, so I had to write it in. I think “motionless” was my personal hint/spark/jenniplace)

Somehow this makes my daily practice more steady, I don’t have to have all obstacles removed before I can practice, I don’t have to know where it’s going, I just have to do it and look at the results.
In teaching it reminds me of how we say “observe the state of your mind/thoughts/feelings” not that the student have to be in a certain way to be able to do yoga but just awareness to what is, is a start on this integration.

Jenni –who’s cold and fever, gets medicine from Iyengar yoga treatment this now ;-) thanks for Janet MacLeod

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Do we dare to say we have had an experience of samadhi?

Sutra 3.3 “[When]… the individual is so involved in the object [of meditation], that nothing except its comprehension is evident. It is as if the individual has lost her own identity. This is complete integration with the object of understanding – Samadhi.” (Desikachar translation)

Samadhi is a word I first met in school. I was told that samadhi is the heaven of Hindu and Buddhist religion. This have somehow stayed with me, even through yoga-teacher-training and studying philosophy at the university. Sure, I got that it was something that you could reach through meditation and that it was a release from the bondage of earth – but here the reference to heaven and my old ideas about a Christian God (which also have changed through the years) took over.

Today it feels like wakening up. Samadhi becomes a whole new landscape where I actually have some experience.

A couple of years ago I had a professor at the university who said that we cannot have any experience without educating our intellect. Without experiencing it as an subject- object relation ( a subject who’s amount of knowledge grew). This is a part of the theory of “lifelong learning” (livslang læring) and “knowledge society” (videns samfundet). This was such a provocation to me and everything I had experienced – so I started to find academically honored theoreticians who have proved her wrong. And all they said is the same as Patanjali stated here 2500 years before!!!!

Anyone who has experienced losing oneself in art/nature/challenge/meditation (both in the creating and the receiving act) has tasted this unification, that Samadhi guides us towards.

My experience with this makes it clear, that there are some situations where intellect and sensation is lost and there is no “I” and no “object”.

This is where Iyengar takes it to the next level.

“For the yogi, however, whose “art” is formless and whose goal has no physical expression like a painting, a book or a symphony, the fragrance of Samadhi penetrates every aspect of her “normal” behaviour, activities and state of being.”

My favourite example is cutting cucumber, becoming aware of the sensation, the rhythm, the beauty and suddenly it makes it self, there is only a now – nothing else matters and it is self-fulfilling.

This is it – Yes. The process and the goal of the process becomes one. Moving towards perfection and being perfect is one – not oppositions but inclusions… hmm lack of words here.

Yoga as unification and the movement towards this unification becomes one – it is already done. Like praying/searching -well aware that everything is already given/found, and knowing that the prayer/search is still right, is still a true position.

This inspires me to go for the unification in class, breath and movement, body, mind and soul, the goal and the process of moving towards it. The limbs and the core. The front and the back. The here and now! It’s essence of change, move towards perfection knowing it’s already here. Open and courage is main focus as well, taking in that I get to teach and inaugurate this new yoga-space. Bring the sunlight in – Gayatri mantra :-) love and light

Jenni Saunte

Saturday, September 11, 2010

meditation, clean house, get born and die-move

Sutra 3.2 "A steady, continuous flow of attention directed towards the same point or region is meditation (dhyana)." (Iyengar translation)
For years my breath have functioned as a focal point, not just in pranayama, but I remember as a kid I use to spend hours experiencing it. Making a sound again and again, to feel how the air moved in me, or spend days breathing on a window and look at the moist-picture fade away again. Breathing in different rhythms and holding my breath, challenging –whatever. Today breath is my shortcut into that state, it is my focal-point when things are tough, it is a revelator (yes I think you should have a word like that) someone who reveals stuff :-) My heart listened when my master told me that the breath is the key that opens up between different layers, for example the mind and the body. The best part of this focal point is that it is always with me, everywhere I go.

Desikachar writes: "Initially our understanding is influenced by misapprehension, imagination and memories. But, as the process of comprehension intensifies, it freshens and deepens our understanding if the object."
I relate to this, when I do yoga I sometimes get to feel the different obstacles disappear. I guess this is why I love intensity; I somehow know that that’s where it happens.

Iyengar makes me understand that dharana (explained in last sutra) is, the achievement of single-pointed concentration and dhyana is the ... maintenance of this concentration. In this maintaining act we move from "one-pointed concentration to no-pointed attentiveness" beautifully put down on paper! For me it fully fits into a huge theoretical universe from Bakhtin, Nishida, Gadamer, Dewey to Cikszentmihalyi, Juncker, Merleau-Ponty and well, so many more. The feeling of "fit" or conjunction is fine. I also love that it is a maintaining act, somehow it makes it ok to get off the beam and the act is to come back. Right now (cleaning house) it seems like life is not meant to be “done” or “tidy” its meant to move, get messy, clean up, start up, tear down, get born and die. From meditation, to theory, to clean house and to be born and die – that’s me :-) and absolutely fine!
Jenni Saunte

Saturday, September 04, 2010

a new begining: chapter 3

Do you know the feeling of getting something that is very important somehow to you personally, and not being able to describe and tell anyone about it? And it feels so big that it is pointless to try to start writing about it, it will take forever to get it done. –well :-) that’s me right now!

So, I’m gonna try to keep it short and sweet.
In Iyengars start to the third chapter he talks about our quest in general terms. He describes how we, when we vigorously engage in this path, can achieve some power;
the eight siddhis:
(anima=to become as minute as an atom, mahima=to wax in magnitude, laghima=to become light, garima=to become heavy, prapti=the power to dominate and obtain what one wants, prakamya=the freedom of will and attainment of wishes, isatva=supremacy over all, vasitva=the power to subjugate anyone or anything)
However, Iyengar writes, that Patanjali “holds them to be obstacles” to meditation and oneness because they create attachment and affliction. We kind of get sidetracked. The powers of the siddhis are only of use if we have forgotten the aim of yoga. “”Discard them”, he says, “and devote all energies to the realization of God””

This is what is overwhelming to me. It feels like my heart is on fire for these sentences and singing; “listen jenni! Listen jenni!”

I have not felt like supremacy over all, as in supremacy over all other fellow human beings :-) but yoga-practice and regularity of daily practice have given me a sense of this feeling towards for example my emotional life, like there is something above this. And this could be such a kick that it suddenly could be the goal for me, instead of using this new freedom to realize oneness, unity or something greater than…
I had the urge to shift goal the first couple of times I felt the extreme lightness that yoga can give me, like all flesh is gone and there is only breath and spine left – an urge to go for experiencing this instead of a neutral acceptance and back the realization of the great reality.

I can’t write more about this, I have to sit with it. Back to the next sutra:

Sutra 3.1!!! “The mind has reached the ability to be directed (dharana) when direction towards a chosen object is possible in spite of many other potential objects within the reach of the individual” (Desikachar translation). I have so many relating points to the sutra and the text about them that I have to discard a lot :-)

I love the part that Iyengar writes about how absorbed we can become, how “dharana is the art of reducing the interruptions of the mind and ultimately eliminating them completely, so that the knower and the known become one”. Yes, I can relate to this. This is a part of both my work as a teacher and work in the projects at the library, this year especially with the young inventors and the innovation. It does bring humility and gratitude. And there is very little sense of ego, but not destruction or fight the ego. Something else. Dharana, I’m tasting the word, right now it tastes best whispering…
I am grateful for the suggestions that an external focus object should be associated with purity and that internal focus in reality is “pure existence”. Thanks.
I have to come back and write about my focusing points and unfoldings. I’m a bit to overwhelmed right now. Your are welcome, to make suggestions :-)
Love and light
Jenni Saunte