The last three limbs of Yoga are: dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).
All three are collectively termed as ‘sanyam’ (control) and should be considered together.
* Dharana (concentration) is the process of holding the attention of mind onto one object or place.
* Dhyana (meditation) is sustained concentration, where the attention continues to hold or repeat the same object or place.
* Samadhi (deep absorption), means only the essence of that object, place, or point shines forth in the mind, as if the mind were devoid even of its own form.
Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are progressively advancing stages of concentration.
* Attention leads to concentration (dharana).
* Concentration leads to meditation (dhyana).
* Meditation leads to absorption (samadhi).
Dharana means holding concentration or focus in one direction. (This is not the forced concentration as in solving a difficult math problem.) This state of mind is considered as a receptive concentration. One steadies the mind by focusing attention, making contact in only one direction.
Dhyana means worship, or profound and abstract religious meditation. It is perfect contemplation. It involves concentration upon a point of focus and making a connection with it. The intention is to know the truth about it.
Samadhi means to successfully become so absorbed in something that our mind becomes completely one with it. In samadhi our personal identities disappear as we merge with our object of focus. We become one with the Divine. The person capable of samadhi retains individuality and person, but is free of the emotional attachment to it.