"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.
What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,
The Little Prince
Samyama is a profound yogic practice, named in the Patanjali Sutras, for entering and abiding in the boundless Great Heart of Silence. It is a practice that also offers refuge to any emotion, no matter how deep or dark, to grief, fear, and resistance, as well as our untamed joy, unconditional love and presence.
Makunda Stiles wrote in his version of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, “Samyama is the continuum of contemplation, dharana, meditation, dhyana, and spiritual absorption, samadhi."
Samyama came to me more than 25 years ago in my meditation one morning during a time of great duress. Day after day, I followed the instructions to place my focused attention into whatever I was feeling in my spiritual heart — pain, rage, sadness, depression, hatred, love, peace, longing, whatever was there. I followed the instructions and practiced many times a day as I could feel changes happening instantly. At a certain point there was a huge shift in which I experienced the deepening, the dissolution of the feeling, and opening into boundless Silence. Peace. Stillness. Joy…
As I continued with Samyama, I noticed that it also re-located the source point of my awareness and attention from head to heart. There came a moment when I realized that Samyama had become a way of directly experiencing everything in my life. It became a way of life. It is the most potent vehicle in my repertoire of practices for meeting ourselves and the world through the heart.
A few months after these discoveries I read the Patanjali Sutras. It was a huge surprise to learn that what was transmitted to me in meditation is a yogic practice called samyama. It is the subject of the third chapter in the Sutras. As I asked various yoga teachers about it, few knew much about it. I don’t know if that is still so. It is an inner yoga, rather than a body yoga.
Initially I needed quiet and stillness in order to concentrate, and continued experience and experimenting taught me how to use it in any situation. It was not long after I began working with it that I recognized a deep healing was occurring in me as painful emotions dissolved back into the Silence. This was not spiritual bypass — it is true alchemy. The high vibration of the heart can dissolve anything of a lower vibration. The sperm of attention, penetrating the womb of the heart, to meet whatever is there, even if it is resistance, can catalyze miraculous shifts with broken hearts, depression, rage, trauma, and sometimes physical issues.
I began offering it in sessions as a way to work with all kinds of emotional trauma and pain. I taught it to my clients and students, and launched a two-year training for helping professionals called Samyama Healing, which I am still available to teach. I also offer short workshops for others called to learn the practice. Samyama can be easily learned and it deepens if given by transmission.
Samyama meditation and healing work is Tantric as it emphasizes dharana, concentrated focus, and cultivates direct experience of the object of our focus. Samyama also welcomes and embraces all feelings and experiences, and takes us beyond duality into the Great Heart and the Sacred Marriage of Shakti and Shiva, the transcendence of all polarities, non-duality.
This practice that welcomes the entire sensorium of human experience and full embodiment is a vehicle for direct experience of everything. It is a path to unitive consciousness, to the embodiment of Love and the Beloved. When Samyama is directed into our longing, no matter the object of the longing, it takes us Home to That which longs for us.
Samyama diminishes our attachment to, and interest in the mind chatter, facilitates our ability to be deeply present to others and to Life, and is the ultimate practice for meeting what is, as it is, especially if it is something we fear, reject, or want to be different.
Samyama is very potent in the process of embodiment from dissociative states, healing trauma, bringing high vibrational energy to pain in our bodies. It can also awaken, heighten, and deepen sensuality to states beyond the five senses and catalyze ineffable intimacy with self and other. In my experience and observation of many to whom I have taught Samyama, it also awakens and supports the dance of Kundalini Shakti as it opens wide the doors of our human hearts.