Introduction to Yoga Sutras 1.17-1.18
Types of Concentration
Five Stages of Meditation:
Types Versus Stages of Meditation:
STAGES: Building upon practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment
(vairagya) (1.12-1.16), the meditator systematically moves inward,
through four levels or stages of concentration on an object (1.17),
and then progresses to the stage of objectless concentration (1.18).
DISCRIMINATION: Developing a razor sharp discrimination from such
concentration is the purpose of the eight rungs of Yoga (2.26-2.29),
which forms the finer tool for introspection (3.4-3.6).
ALL OBJECTS ARE IN ONE OF FOUR STAGES: Virtually all types, styles,
methods, or objects of meditation are included in one of these four
stages, levels, or categories (1.17). The specific objects within
those four stages are discussed in later sutras.
1) SAVITARKA/GROSS: relates to concentration on any gross object
while still accompanied with other activities of the mind, including
meditation on sensory awareness, visualized objects, the gross level
of breath, attitudes, syllables of mantra, or streams of conscious
2) SAVICHARA/SUBTLE: relates to subtle objects, after the gross have
been left behind; the subtleties of matter, energy, senses, and the
mind are, themselves, the objects of meditation, inquiry, and non-
3) SANANDA/BLISS: emphasizes the still subtler state of bliss in
meditation. In this state, the concentration is free from the gross
and subtle impressions that were at the previous levels.
4) SASMITA/I-NESS: focuses on I-ness, which is even subtler, as it
relates to the I that is behind, or witness to all of the other
OBJECTLESS CONCENTRATION: The four stages (above) all have an object
to which attention is directed (samprajnata). Beyond these four is
objectless concentration (1.18), where all four categories of objects
have been released from attention (asamprajnata).