Hence it employs techniques like mantra and visualization to gain control over our
reactions to sensory impressions.
Dharana means concentration or attention. It is the ability to
constantly direct our mental energy to the object we are examining. It
does not mean suppressing other objects from our awareness but to increase our energy of interest and
inquiry, our passion to know, so that nothing else can disrupt it.
Dhyana means meditation. It is the
capacity to hold our mind on the object of our examination. It is to
be like a mirror and reflect the reality of things. Or it is to be
like a lake that is still and able to reflect the sky. It is the
mind in its natural state of quiescence.
Samadhi means absorption. It is the complete understanding of the
nature of the object of our attention in which the observer is one
with the observed. It is not some exotic ecstasy, thrilling bliss or
magical experience but the joy that comes from peace, wherein the
object is merged into the state of seeing.
The first five of these eight limbs
are called the outer aspect of Yoga. They are preliminary in nature.
The first two, Yama and Niyama, refer to the right attitudes, values
and life-style practices necessary to the path of Yoga, its ethical
foundation. The next three are the means of control the outer
aspects of our nature, as body, breath and senses. The last
three are called Samyama or integration. They naturally go together.