Samadhi is usually translated as concentration and from my perspective it is an essential meditation practice. The practice of Samadhi envisages a mind that is calm, clear and gentle. It is unattached to anything and let’s go of thoughts as easily as raindrops gently dripping from a leaf during a summer storm. It is very hard to achieve this state of mind as we have been so conditioned by life. Every form of conditioning must be removed for Samadhi to be achieved. Samadhi can be achieved in short bursts or in a whole lifetime (an example would be the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh). To obtain longer spans of Samadhi we must look to firstly reconditioning ourselves, and secondly to letting go of conditioning of any state or form. This is much harder than it sounds!
Samadhi, in simplistic terms, is the way the mind learns to settle. To do many of the more advanced meditations you initially need this state of mind. It is so easy for us to get distracted when we try to meditate. A myriad of internal thoughts suddenly assail us, all desperate to take our concentration away. Feelings arise that need to be acknowledged and not ignored or neither dwelt upon. Small sounds suddenly become larger to our senses and the outside world has a host of distractions. Sitting in Samadhi isn’t an easy activity, even if it looks like it’s the case. It’s like a swan on a lake. All looks calm and fluid, but if you look under the water you can see the effort that the swan makes to retain that element of calm. Your state of mind should be so serene that nothing, internal or external, can disturb it. Happy thoughts? Accept, relax and let them go. A huge monitor lizard walks right in front of you whilst you are in concentration. Observe, relax and let go.
There is some disagreement amongst Buddhists as to what the perfect state of Samadhi actually is. Some say it is when you are in complete focus on an object, like an archer pointing at his target and examining it through his sight (Arrow style. Others say it is a complete awareness of everything that is taking place around you. The mind is still in a midst of movement and change, observing everything through the lens of non-judgement. One thing they do all agree with is the fact that this is a good state of mind to have. A samadhi mind offers a buffer zone to the trails and tribulations of the world. However this mind should not be clinged to as a pleasure in life, as desire in Buddhism is not something that you aspire to having. You should never meditate with the aim of peace of mind, or else if you don’t achieve it you will end up frustrated; desiring peace of mind.
“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness” James Thurber
“Awareness allows us to get outside our mind and observe it in action” Dan Brule