Among the very most important texts in Yoga is the Yoga Sutras, written by the sage Patanjali in the 2nd Century, BC. In it, he articulates eight limbs which comprise the “Royal Path” of Yoga. The sixth limb, Dharana, is single-pointed concentration.
Our modern lives are filled with external stimuli. Each and every day we face an endless stream of noise and distraction. As a result, our thoughts have become endless, fragmented and disjointed. We think about the past and the future, we hypothesize and “horribilize,” we daydream and fantasize. It is increasingly difficult for us to hold our focus on the task at hand.
In practicing Dharana, we embrace the art of paying attention. This helps to still the mind as well as bring us more fully into the present moment. Ultimately, all great achievement arises from the fullness of our attention, including our success in moving forward in Yoga.
We invite you to practice the Yoga of Dharana throughout the week in these ways:
- Gaze at a candle flame for five minutes each night before bed. This practice, called Tratak, helps focus the mind and direct our attention. After five minutes, close your eyes and follow the image of the flame in the darkness behind your closed eyes for a few minutes.
- Do you best to pay the fullest attention to whatever you are doing, no matter how mundane the activity might be.
- For instance, if you are taking a walk, allow yourself to feel your legs in motion, the ground beneath your steps, the way your breath moves. Notice the environment you are in, see what is around you, experience the moment without concern for your destination. Likewise, if you are preparing a meal, don’t distract yourself with media or frivolous thought, but instead pay full attention to each aspect of the task at hand.
Do your best to practice Dharana, bringing the fullness of your attention to all that you do.