The 8 Limbs of Yoga – Part 6 Dharana

Now comes yoga in its essential essence, and now also begins the last stroke that the Yogi deals, which decides his fate. This is the stage of Dharana or concentration of the whole of one’s psychic being (Chitta).

A perennial flow of dharana is called dhyana or meditation. If Dharana is the drop, dhyana is the river. Many concentrations make a meditation. Qualitatively they are non-different, but functionally there is a distinction between them. [1]

 

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Photo by Annie Spratt

 

Have you ever been so engrossed in a novel or a television show that you ignore some of your basic instincts? Thoughts like, “I’m thirsty, sweaty, hungry, sleepy, cold” or “I have to pee”, jump into your mind but then flicker out until sometime later you feel your bladder is going to burst. This is concentration. Dharana.

Though we find it easier to pay no mind to these instincts when enveloped in something so exciting, we then believe it is damn near impossible to do so when in a state of meditation.

This past year, I have challenged myself, or rather have been challenged due to the many hot flashes I experience daily. I will be in a Yoga  pose or in a meditation and will feel sweat dripping down my face. All my life, I have abhorred sweat. But now I practice through it. In addition, I started taking Hot Yoga as an additional test of my instincts.  I have come to love sweat. Ha! I never thought I would ever utter those words.


Practicing Dharana can be by focusing on an object, the breath or a mantra. Sit in a comfortable meditation posture with the spine erect. Commit to stillness. Find your Focus:

  • Focus on your natural breath, observing its sound, flow in and out of the nostrils, and where it brushes over the skin.
  • Focus on your third eye center. Observe colors, shapes, and movement.
  • Focus on an external object, such as a flower, or an image of a deity or great teacher.
  • Focus on a mantra, such as “I am Love”, repeating it audibly for several minutes, and then internally for several minutes.
  • Focus on sound, like the ocean, flute, or drumbeat.

This week, start off the process of Dhrana by letting go of multitasking. Fully engulf yourself in your activities, by not planning on the next. Be in the moment, genuinely. Engage your five senses. Experience each event as an event. Experience love, joy, peace, serenity, and stay blissful my friends – E