What is Dharana?
In the practice of yoga, Dharana is a fundamental concept that refers to the act of concentration. This involves directing the mind’s focus towards either an external object or an internal point, and is purely a mental process that requires an inward turning of the mind.
Aids to Concentration
Dharana, the ability to concentrate, is a crucial component of yoga practice as it paves the way towards achieving Samadhi or superconsciousness. To develop Dharana, it’s vital to have a peaceful and calm mind, as concentration requires focus and attention on a particular object or point.
Cheerfulness is an essential element of Dharana, as it allows for the mind to remain clear and focused. Maintaining a positive attitude is therefore an important aspect of cultivating Dharana. In addition, regular practice is key to developing concentration skills. Consistency is vital, and it’s recommended to practice at the same time and in the same place, preferably in the early morning.
Certain principles can also aid in cultivating Dharana. Practicing celibacy, pranayama, reducing activities and wants, cultivating dispassion, observing silence, and disciplining the senses can all contribute to developing concentration.
There are also specific techniques that can assist in cultivating Dharana, such as Japa and Kirtan. Japa involves the recitation of the Lord’s Name, while Kirtan involves singing the Lord’s Name and His glory. Both practices can be beneficial for developing concentration skills.
To train the mind to stay focused and avoid distraction, it’s essential to stick to one center or object of focus during Dharana practice. Developing concentration skills requires patience, perseverance, and consistent practice over an extended period
How to Concentrate
Dharana, or the art of concentration, is a crucial practice for developing a focused and disciplined mind. However, concentration can be challenging, especially when the mind is filled with bubbling thoughts and surging emotions. To cultivate Dharana, it’s essential to silence these distractions and bring the mind to a state of calm and focus.
One effective way to develop concentration skills is to focus on a concrete form in the beginning, such as a flower, the form of Lord, or any other image that resonates with you. It’s recommended to have 3 or 4 sittings each day, preferably in the early morning, 8 a.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m.
Different spiritual traditions may have different centers of focus for concentration. For example, devotees may concentrate on the heart, Raja Yogins on Trikuti (the seat of mind), and Vedantins on Sahasrara or the top of the head. Additionally, some practitioners may choose to focus on the tip of the nose, the navel, or the Muladhara.
Methods of Dharana (Concentration)
On Ishta Devata(On Lord): When focusing on a concrete form or object, it’s important to maintain a steady gaze and visualise the image in the mind’s eye. One effective method is to place a picture of your Ishta Devata, or preferred form of the divine, in front of you, and then visualise the image in the center of your heart or in the space between the eyebrows.
Gross Forms: Another method is to concentrate on a gross form, such as a black dot on the wall, a candle flame, a bright star, or the picture of OM. By focusing on a concrete form or object, the mind can be trained to stay focused and prevent distraction. With patient and protracted practice, Dharana can be cultivated, leading to a disciplined and focused mind.
Subtle Methods: Another method of developing concentration is by reading and focusing on a subject. After reading a few pages, one can close the book and concentrate solely on the topic. Allowing the mind to associate, group, compare, and combine the information can lead to a greater understanding of the subject and a better memory.
Additionally, lying on a bed in the open air and concentrating on the vast blue sky can expand the mind and elevate one’s consciousness. The infinite nature of the Self can be reminded through the expanse of the blue sky, which can assist in the development of Dharana.
Dharana, the ability to concentrate, is an essential skill for achieving a state of superconsciousness.
Various methods were discussed for developing Dharana, such as concentrating on divine qualities or subtle Methods, reading and reflecting, and contemplating nature. Patience and persistent practice are necessary for success in the Dharana