A Mandelbrot metaphor of yogic technique by Gregor Maehle
The Mandelbrot-set is a formula named after the late mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot. Its geometrical representation is called a fractal, a complex pattern that looks the same or nearly the same from however far or close you watch it. Through the advent of powerful computers we now can watch on the web so-called Mandelbrot-set zooms. If you have never seen one I recommend watching some of them to understand this metaphor (and its great fun to watch them, too). As you zoom deeper and deeper into the fractal, the same or similar patterns are repeated over and over again. The same all over structure and architecture of the fractal is repeated in every minute detail. Similarly to fractal geometry as you zoom deeper and deeper into it so are the same patterns repeated on all levels of yogic technique.

Asana for example is only effective if exercised in combination with bandha (energetic lock), yogic breathing, focal point (drishti), concentration (dharana), etc. We find the same pattern repeated once we zoom deeper into pranayama. Pranayama is to be executed within asana, while applying bandha, drishti, mantra (soundwave), mudra (energetic seal), etc. Once our zoom has reached the next deeper layer, called pratyahara (independence from external stimuli), the same pattern holds true. Pratyahara is achieved by applying all yogic ancillaries together. It is performed in asana, during pranayama, by applying bandha, mudra, mantra, visualization, etc. When zooming deeply into pratyahara, the sixth limb of yoga, dharana (concentration) is revealed. Dharana, too, is a set of techniques that takes place with asana, pranayama and pratyahara and includes mantra, concentrating on chakras, bandha, mudra, drishti, etc. The final two limbs of yoga, dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (absorption) are again not separate practices but are nothing but deeper zooms into the existing lattice of yogic technique that reveal the same patterns and details over and over again.

While meditation methods such as Buddhist, Vedantic or Vipassana meditation are noble pursuits in their own right, if you want to harvest the fruit of your asana and pranayama practice you need to combine them with yogic meditation, that is meditation that repeats the same structural elements and architecture as your posture and breathing techniques already contain. In that case you will use the skills you acquired in your asana practice to swiftly progress in meditation. Similarly to the Mandelbrot fractal, all yogic techniques were designed according to the same structural formulae.

by Gregor Mahle