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Dhayana Mudra

Dhyana – The 7th Limb of Yoga

When one feels relaxed and carefree, when the body is free of tension and the mind is calm, more space opens within oneself.

This is the perfect place to continue into meditation, or dhyana.

Meditation can be traced back to prehistoric 5000 BC. The earliest writings of meditation are found in the Vedas (ancient scriptures) of Hindu traditions around 1500 BC.

8 Limbs of Yoga

Dhyana (Sanskrit: ध्यान) is the 7th limb of yoga, building upon Yama (Sanskrit: यम ;"right living" or ethical rules), Niyama (Sanskrit: नियम ; habits for healthy living, spiritual enlightenment, and liberated existence), Asana (Sanskrit: आसन ; physical posture), Pranayama (प्राणायाम ; breath control), Pratyahara (प्रत्याहार; withdrawal of the senses), and Dharana (Sanskrit: धारणा ; concentration). It is followed by Samadhi (Sanskrit: समाधि ; union with the Divine). Together these make up the Ashtanga (Sansrkit: अष्टाङ्ग; having eight parts), the 8 limbs of Yoga.

The word dhyana comes from the Sanskrit word dhyai, which means "to think of." It is an element of the Zen Buddhism and Vajramukti yoga, "Thunderbolt Fist," (Sanskrit: वज्रमुक्ति; Traditional Chinese: 霹靂解放; pinyin: Pīlì Jiěfàng) introduced into China by Bodhidharma during the 5th or 6th century AD.

Dhyana calls for concentration and meditation on a point of focus with the goal of knowing the truth about it. This deeper concentration of the mind is the instrument of self-knowledge where one can separate illusion from reality and, eventually, reach samadhi.

According to the Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali, which were complied by Sage Panjali before 400 AD, the purpose of meditation is to stop the unsteadiness of normal mental activity like sensory knowledge, memory, and imagination. Of these, memory is the hardest to silence since it constantly feeds us glimpses from the past along with a ceaseless stream of thoughts and feelings.

Like the other limbs of yoga, meditation is a systematic process, which takes practice and patience to learn. Imagine taming a puppy that would rather frolic about than sit still. You will need to train your mind to come back to you when you tell it to and to sit still, even if for only a few moments at a time.

Third Eye Chakra

In dhyana, one can focus the mind on the Ajna (Sanskrit: आज्ञा; third eye) chakra, the point on the forehead above the eyebrows. While a person's two eyes see the physical world, the third eye is believed to disclose insights about the future and let people connect to their intuition.

One then prepares for the physical part of meditation, which is the foundation. Assume a comfortable position, whether sitting up on the floor, a bench, chair, etc., that can be held comfortably for an extended period. Clear away some quiet time free of interruptions. Start with just 5 to 10 minutes at a time each day, then progressively extend the duration as time goes by. Like the muscles, the mind strengthens the more it is exercised thusly. Waking and going to bed are ideal times.

Meditation benefits both the body and the mind by releasing stress and promoting calmness. As one continues to listen to oneself more and sit in silence, one becomes more aware of oneself. Dhyana meditation is part of the mind-body practice promoted in martial arts classes taught by the Michigan Shaolin Wugong Temple.

 

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