“True concentration is an unbroken thread of awareness. Yoga is about how the Will, working with intelligence and the self-reflexive consciousness, can free us from the inevitably of the wavering mind and outwardly directed senses.” (BKS Iyengar in Light on Life)
We can’t really do yoga or do meditation. Yoga is a natural state of union with the divine source and meditation is experiencing limitless joy; cosmic state of awareness. What we can do are practices which reveal to us our past impressions, pre-conceptions, expectations, and resistance. The practices of meditation and yoga are mere catalysts for letting go. Letting go of tendencies, habits, and anything that blurs that cosmic state of awareness or oneness.
Imagine you decide to run a marathon. To prepare you’d start to train so you’re ready for the event. Dharana is training for Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (total absorbtion or bliss). These last three gems are known as samyama yoga- the yoga of final integration.
Dharana is the act of concentrating, it is the actual training of your mind to meditate. It is the act of redirecting the mind over and over again. This means a dedicated daily practice. Below is a 3 part process to help you start to develop the ability to sit still long enough to be able to concentrate the mind so that it becomes balanced, steady, one-pointed and able to concentrate on one object.
- Sit – Consciously choose your seat. Position yourself so your hips are higher than your knees so your hip flexors can soften. Relax your hands, elbows, and shoulders. Think of your spine as an antenna. Once you’re situated – become the observer, watch the tiny waves the mind works through until all the tiny waves become one. One giant wave of awareness.
- Trust – Don’t second guess your seat but experience it. Even if you’re uncomfortable see if you can be with that for a moment. Most often it’s not that the body needs to reposition but the mind trying to distract you.
- Focus – Focus first on the breath. Allow the breath to breathe your body. Don’t force it or try to change it, relax into it. Feel pranic light radiate in and out of the body. You may want to silently repeat a mantra with each incoming and outgoing breath. This is very helpful in directing the mind towards its source, which is cosmic awareness.
You could also keep the eyes open and practice candle gazing. Keep your eyes fixed on the flame for as long as possible. Once you’re ready to close the eyes keep the image of the flame burning between the eyebrows and concentrate here.
Be diligent, be devoted, be open, be receptive, begin…
by Stephanie Miller