It is impossible for the mental consciousness to imagine what the state of Samadhi actually is. If we try to sit for meditation, we find all kinds of perceptions, feelings, nervous impulses, random thoughts and emotions flitting across our minds. We can observe an almost endless stream of inner subtle reactions and mental commentary that has been called by some our “monkey mind”.

There are times when we are relatively at peace with ourselves and the world, perhaps in a quiet place where we are not being bombarded by sights, sounds and vibrations from external sources, and we feel calm, quiet, contented, but this has nothing at all to do with the actual state of Samadhi.

There come experiences in meditation where the mind falls relatively quiet and one of the first reactions is to go into a state that the seeker may describe as a type of quasi-sleep state. The active mind has withdrawn and fallen quiet, and the external being takes this as a period of sleep. There is thus frequently a disconnect between the inner status and the external being that prevents a true and complete transcription of the experience from being fully brought forward, and thus, it seems to be almost dream-like or even an induced form of sleep. Samadhi is frequently described as a trance state and the experience there is in most cases unable to be accurately represented in the outer existence.

In his yoga sutras, Patanjali describes various states of Samadhi, particularly a state that is “with seed” and a state that is “without seed”. This is explained by Swami Vivekananda in his lectures on Raja Yoga to mean a status that keeps all the thoughts away in “seed” form so that they can arise again at the earliest opportunity, as well as a deeper status that is unshakable. Yet these do not give us real insight into the state of Samadhi.

When an actual experience arises, it is a frequent experience that the seeker suddenly draws back in fear as the ego-personality is afraid that it will lose its entire coherence and existence. In order to enter into the true state of Samadhi, the seeker eventually must be able to overcome any fear that arises and allow the entire being to fall into a deep and impenetrable silence.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The experience you relate, the stillness, the emptiness of mind and vital and cessation of thoughts and other movements was the coming of the state of ‘samadhi’ in which the consciousness goes inside in a deep stillness and silence. This condition is favourable to inner experience, realisation, the vision of the unseen truth of things, though one can get these in the waking condition also. it is not sleep but the state in which one feels conscious within, no longer outside.”

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter VII Growth of Consciousness, Inner Experiences, pg. 141

Author's Bio: 

Santosh has been studying Sri Aurobindo's writings since 1971 and has a daily blog at and podcast at He is author of 17 books and is editor-in-chief at Lotus Press. He is president of Institute for Wholistic Education, a non-profit focused on integrating spirituality into daily life.