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Important Factors

Sage Patanjali exhorts all beginners to take note of three factors that helps one to progress safely and swiftly in yoga. They are, right concentration, submission to the teacher and devotion. When the novice becomes aware of his true identity as atman or soul, he gradually realises the nature of all material things, as temporal. This increases his non-attachment for worldly objects and relationships. This non-attachment is not synonymous to indifference or callousness. On the contrary, he/she is more empathic about others suffering and needs. However, non-attachment causes less mental diversions and emotional disturbances, thus allowing for better concentration.

Concentration is the beginning in the process of meditation, in order for the novice to become aware of the true nature of objects and of the mind, which takes cognizance of all experiences of reality. The yoga system advices the novice to begin meditation by concentrating on one of the gross elements like earth, fire etc. There are four stages in this form of concentration: examination and analysis, discrimination, satisfaction and awareness of the individual self. Each of these stages gradually and concomitantly activates a deeper layer of the consciousness, until the element after due examination and analysis recedes into oblivion. Thereafter the yogi's journey inwards makes him experience peaceful satisfaction within himself leading to growing awareness of the individual self as being distinct from everything else.

The next higher stage of meditation is to concentrate on the impressions deposited in the subconscious. By this time non -attachment is achieved and thought waves, i.e. thinking, feeling and desires are allowed to flow under the scanner of the mind and discrimination. However, if meditation is not supported by non-attachment then the mind is molested by ignorance and illusion. To attain a sustained and high level of concentration five mental attributes are required, namely, faith and trust (not blind and irrational), robustness, memory, absorption and wisdom.