The aim of Patanjali’s Yoga system is to keep the mind one-pointed on any object or idea which would remind you of a higher idea that will broaden your outlook, elevate your mental attitude and, ultimately, your life. He encourages the student to take up any object through which one can elevate oneself and expand the mind out of its narrowness. He gives various methods to help one develop concentration. He speaks about concentrating on the sacred sound, OM, or on your own incoming and outgoing breath, on certain visions you might have had in a dream, or, on the heart of a holy personality. But ultimately, if you are not satisfied with any of these suggestions, you can select any one idea or object, form, or name that you feel drawn to. If it is something that you find pleasant, the mind can easily concentrate on that.

The object of concentration may be on something outside, or on certain parts of the body such as the tip of the nose, or the area inside the head that is between the eyebrows. The object may also be a little deeper within, on the subtle nerve centers, known as chakras. And still deeper within, one can concentrate on one’s own feeling of “I” or the ego. Just as the pure crystal takes the color from an object that is near to it, the mind, when it is cleaned of all thought waves, achieves sameness or identity with the object of its concentration.

After giving some suggestions for concentration, Patanjali goes into an explanation of the different kinds of samadhi. There are various types of contemplation or samadhis that one can experience. If you practice concentration for a long time, the mind becomes strong and is easily focused. Such a yogic mind can concentrate upon anything, of any size, from the minutest to the infinite–it may be an atom or it may be the entire cosmos. The mind gets that capacity to penetrate into anything.

In samadhi, the mind becomes one with the object of concentration. It doesn’t feel separate. That means, you lose yourself completely in the object of concentration; the mind takes the form of the object upon which you are concentrating. If you are aware that you are concentrating on something, it is called dhyana. You feel your separate identity, you are aware of your process of concentration and of the object upon which you are concentrating. When all three of these become one, that particular stage is called samadhi.

When that occurs, you don’t even know that you have a body or a mind or that you are even concentrating on anything, because, you have become that. To get to that stage the mind should become as clear as a crystal. We all know that if you bring a red rose close to a crystal, the crystal appears to assume the red color of the rose. In a way, when the mind is clear like a crystal, and if it concentrates on something, it immediately assumes that form.

Having taken up something that you like for your concentration, if you fix your mind on it, what would happen? You will see that universal love is being planted in the mind, and that selfishness is slowly being removed from the mind. That is all that the Yoga system expects of you.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda