Samadhi, the eighth limb of yoga, is often translated as bliss. As I continue to explore the limbs of yoga as translated, adapted, and informed by my Western perspectives, I find it helpful to dive into the definition of words.
So, what does bliss mean?
Bliss means perfect happiness, great joy, and merriment. This definition has made me realize that I have experienced more moments of samadhi than I originally thought. When I was first learning the limbs of yoga, I felt that my past conditioning influenced my concept of yoga. I had an underlying belief that “God” or “heaven” was somewhere else or that ecstasy could only be experienced on another plane of existence.
Samadhi is often portrayed visually as someone sitting in Easy Pose or Lotus Pose, either in nature or in a cosmic world highlighting the expansiveness of the universe. This can lead us to believe that there is a specific path to achieve samadhi.
But, here’s the secret: you don’t actually need an advanced yoga practice to experience samadhi. Actually, you can experience bliss in the most mundane task…if you are willing to release all expectations and preconceived notions.
For example, the other day I experienced my own personal version of Samadhi while washing the dishes. I was doing dishes with no worry about the past and no care of the future. Instead, I was simply absorbed in the present task at hand—so fully that time ceased to exist. I almost dropped a plate and then then caught it in incredible fashion. I laughed out loud and continued joyfully with this everyday task. In that moment, I was in a state of perfect happiness and grace. I didn’t experience a Kundalini rising, where energy moved up my spine; no colors swirled around me, and I did not have all the answer to the meaning of life. Instead, I experienced union with myself and the flow of life. I was truly embodying yoga.
There are multiple layers of samadhi. You can find it by embodying true awareness of the present moment. Keep going. Your yoga practice will help you get there.
This year, Yoga Journal’s annual ambassador road trip—the Live Be Yoga Tour—is going virtual. We are calling it The Decompression. Recently, we’ve all been asked to journey inward, to take moments of pause and stillness, and to slow down, rest, and prioritize the things we value. Follow the Live Be Yoga 2020 series here, stay connected with us at @livebeyoga on social, and join the movement to find beauty in stillness.