The sixth limb of Patanjali’s 8-limbed path, dharana, is the yogi’s ability to sustain concentration and channel mental energy to a focal point under any circumstance. This discipline of mind is an extension of pratyahara, drawing the senses inward, and can be primed with yoga asanas and pranayamas. Concentration is an invaluable asset for practice and precision in any endeavor. Our ability to balance in a yoga posture is significantly improved by clearing the mind and focusing on the task at hand. The same can be said for any mental or physical undertaking.
Dharana is a practice of abiding in present-moment awareness. Our practices in yoga class help us cultivate one-pointed focus, ekagraha, which is both the means and the aim of all yoga practices. An unsteady mind may lead us in any direction, and the quality of experience can easily become fragmented. Whereby applied concentration enraptures our complete being in real time, enriching our experience and increasing our productivity. In embodying concentration we maximize the benefits of efforts, while improving those efforts simultaneously.
We invite you to join us in bringing more awareness to the practice of dharana this month (and beyond). Here are a few ways to get started:
- Show up for yourself on the mat, stay attuned to your breath, observe/let go of your reactions, and cultivate a focused mind.
- Do one thing at a time. When taking a walk, don’t get on the phone. When conversing or even watching TV, stay off your phone.
- Instead of browsing through magazines or the internet, read something substantial and meaningful where your mind has to really focus for a period of time.
- Drive with the radio off. Focus solely on driving, and definitely stay off your phone for the good of everybody.
- Be here now. Whether it is yoga practice, conversation with a friend or family member, or fulfilling responsibilities, let go of resistance and be fully engaged in the moment.
Invite your mind and body to the same time and place through concentration. Focus on what you are doing, and fully immerse yourself in that experience. When we are mindful, our mind steady and attuned to the moment, both our experience and the outcome improve.