The other day I was at the bank making a deposit and had a fascinating interaction with the teller. I told him I was a yoga teacher and his previously bored expression changed dramatically, he lit up. He enthusiastically starting telling me that he's been practicing meditation and he loves it. He said he sits for an hour every day and recently had a beautiful experience where he moved past his thoughts. His thoughts just left, drifted away and he felt as if he had merged with the world around him. As he continued to describe feelings of bliss and absolute peace during this phase of his meditation, I was jumping for joy inside! All I could do was smile and nod furiously back at him with what I can imagine was a look of awe on my face. From my perspective, he had reached samadhi (the 8th limb of Ashtanga yoga as laid out in the Yoga Sutras). Samadhi, the place when your concentration turns into meditation and then turns into a merging, a yoking, a union (the definition of the word "yoga"). Wow. It's said to be a state where the individual merges with the whole universe and we realize that we are part of the whole, connected and not separate. I've read about, heard tales about and dreamed about what samadhi must be like, what it must feel like, but always thought it was more of an idealized state that only sages and serious yogis who live in caves, or at least only yogis who live in India, reach. Yet here I was, at the bank in Paddington, Australia, looking through the plastic partition at a man who had experienced samadhi.
So go forth people, go forth and meditate. That state of bliss, of ananada, of incredible peace and joy is actually attainable for us mere mortals. However, after we reach it, we do have to come back to this plane and live our daily, average, normal and sometimes mundane lives. The bank teller told me he continues to meditate but doesn't always reach that state. Some days yes, some days no and he is wondering why. We're only humans after all, and I didn't have the answer for him.