How to Practice Dharana: A Guide to the Sixth Limb of Yoga
The end of multi-tasking
Dharana is the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea ~ Yoga Sutras 3.1
Can you remember the last time you were totally focused on one thing? Maybe while reading, writing, or playing an instrument?
We often feel a sense of peace while performing these activities because the mind gets to do what is was made to do, focus on ONE thing at a time.
The mind is a muscle we can train and we strengthen it by focusing on one area.
To integrate this practice into your life, start by when you eat, just eat and avoid reading and browsing the Internet at the same time. When you go out for a walk, just walk and avoid talking to friends on the phone.
Dharana is essentially ending multi-tasking.
I was reminded of Dharana in class one day when the music stopped playing. Once I realized it wasn’t coming back on, I let it go and settled into the sound of my voice and was able to tune in more to the present moment, the practice, my students breathing, the alignment cues and the overall energy in the room.
It was pure magic.
To make it even better, almost every student told me after class how much they enjoyed it, as it allowed them to focus and concentrate more.
My entire 300hr advanced teacher training was without music, so I was again brought back to those magical moments in Bali of silence and the breath and I started to realize how much I actually prioritize silence and Dharana in my life now.
I love music, but playing it, as even instrumental background music while I work, drive or do anything, can cause me to feel flustered.
I want to hear my breath, stay aware if what's serving and what's not, and I often need silence for that.
It's also beneficial to understand that Dharana is an essential step in learning how to meditate.
We first deepen our relationship with the external world with the first Limb, then we deepen our relationship with ourselves with the second Limb, then comes the third and fourth Limbs, poses and breathing, to calm the fluctuations of energy in the body, then we withdraw distractions with the fifth Limb, and arrive at the sixth Limb of intense focus on one thing. Once we get good at all these steps, intense focus on nothing becomes available to us, and then we have entered into the seventh Limb, meditation.
Silence can be uncomfortable at first, as it allows thoughts, feelings and sensations to arise that might have been buried for years. But once you get a glimpse of the peace it provides, even if you are just doing one thing, it can be so powerful.
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