The eighth limb of yoga is what we refer to as samadhi. Following dhyana, or meditation, in which concentration is maintained for longer periods of time, samadhi involves the union of the meditator with the object of meditation. It unites the seer with the seen. As Iyengar put it, “We can see that we are divine and the self with a small “s” is replaced by the big “S” Self, as we truly understand at the core of our being that our individual soul is part of the Universal Soul.”
In essence, samadhi is the realization—not simply the thought or idea, but the true understanding—that we are all one. That you are reading about it right now does not mean you understand it, for samadhi cannot be explained in words. It can only be experienced.
Thus, the eight limbs of yoga provide the road map for realizing samadhi. But just as holding a road map does not assure you will reach your destination, so reading about the eight limbs of yoga does not assure you will reach samadhi. Integrate the ethical practices of the yamas and niyamas into your life. Attend to the physical practices of asana and pranayama to find comfort in your body and mind. These practices set the stage for the final four limbs of yoga to occur, leading to samadhi. Samadhi cannot be practiced, per se. Samadhi simply happens. Samadhi occurs when the proper conditions have been set allowing the mind to be free from disturbances so that it can know true reality.
According to Desikachar, “In samadhi our personal identity—name, profession, family history, bank account, and so forth—completely disappears.” Whether you are interested in achieving samadhi or not, certainly the core goal of connecting to something greater—whether a higher power, a greater purpose, God, or to the energy that flows within and without us—is worth seeking. Whether you actually achieve it or not does not matter. Remember that it is the journey, not the destination, which we seek. So begin, simply, with your next breath. Inhale. Exhale.