The realization of your spiritual practice is intuited and understood based on a practical criteria of knowledge just like any undertaking. That being said, how does one begin to deliberately quantify states of freedom, liberation from both judgement and samskaras, bliss, or enlightenment?
The question “How do I know if it is Samadhi” needs firstly to be addressed by properly defining the word Samadhi. At that point all should become clear.
According to the teachings of Yoga, Samadhi is a condition of absorption achieved through a practice of focused attention (dharana) and steady, effortless meditation (dhyana). One might be tempted, however, to consider that any artisan or master craftsman would effectively be working from a state of Samadhi when with single-minded attention they apply themselves to their trade. Samadhi, though, is a much more precise and evolved state of being and there’s actually quite a lot to the construct.
Just as the experiential awareness of the master craftsman is years beyond that of the journeyman, so is the awareness of a Yogi steeped in Samadhi light-years beyond the common man. Samadhi is enhanced awareness. It is a condition of consciousness which has been augmented with ability and potential, both Natural and Super-natural. This intensification of awareness, or power, is what the Yogi uses to reach the ultimate goal of total synchronization of the Self with the Greater Nature – the Absolute.
Okay, perhaps it is still a bit vague. After all, the question “How do I know if it is Samadhi” indicates a lack of familiarity with Yoga and/or Buddhist philosophy in general; so let’s break it down. Just as there are degrees of achievement in any education or academic endeavor, so there are degrees of experiential attainment, too.
At the first stages of Samadhi, collectively known as Savikalpa, meditation is laser-focused, cognition is active, thought is consciously applied and there is an awareness of an inner bliss and a physical surrounding. It is a knowing. The first disembarking upon the shores of enlightenment, precursor to nirvana. Savikalpa Samadhi is associated with deliberation and discrimination, reflection and concentrated contemplation. There is some academic debate concerning subtle differences in the Samadhi constructs of the Buddhist Rupajhana or Samprajnata, but overall there is consensus on the activity of application of mental activity like discernment and attention. Here your question should be definitively answered. If you are not actively engaged then you have been napping and dreaming. Even in the final stage of Savikalpa known as Sa-Asmita Samadhi, I-ness still remains. You are aware. You are awake. You are witnessing. And finally, you can understand that you have reached a delineation of sorts between the minor awareness of the seeker and the augmented awareness of the one who has found something, when the siddhis, or, lesser yogic powers, have begun to develop of their own accord. If these have not begun to rise within you, then whatever you are telling yourself about your advancement on the path must be confined to either the realm of woke intellectual achievement or the awakened phantasms of gross delusion, the greatest enemies on this path.
So, in short, if the mind can convince itself of absolutely anything and thus you believe yourself to be in a position of not being able to trust your own experience, this condition of doubt and confusion itself should be more than enough to tell you that whatever you are experiencing is not Samadhi. On the other hand, if you are sure that you have achieved the single-minded application of focus on the goal and simply seek to define the lucid trance state better, then let the tell-tale signs of augmented awareness, the siddhis, be your signs. This is what I teach my students when I bring them to this stage of Samadhi through my meditation program. By the end of this program, the rudiments of human potential are fully revealed and one has become enabled and empowered to consciously create reality to purpose. The first siddhis are manifest.
I don’t suppose it is necessary to go further with written discourse on the virtues and distinctions of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Dharmamegha Samadhi and/or Sahaja Samadhi, states in which there is a most definitive unity and synchronization of awareness. After all, just as a man may recall his childhood, a scholar his matriculation, or a mountaineer his base camp, one who achieves the summits of consciousness will not soon be forgetting the road traveled to get there.
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.