Dharana is composed of two Sanskrit roots: dha, meaning ‘holding’ or ‘maintaining’ and ana meaning ‘something else’. It is also derived from the verbal root dhar which means ‘to bind together’ or ‘to make stable’.
In the yogic mind-training, concentration moves from the periphery towards the centre and then into absorption. One-pointedness is a fine line to walk, so the balancing stick helps us know when we are slipping and how to move between discipline and surrender. The line extends into the infinite, as there is no end to the journey of mindfulness. The buddha taught that the mind is like a stringed-instrument, and must be tuned correctly to be well-played.
“Try to get involved in something. If you are deeply involved in something, focus naturally comes.”
3.1 deshah bandhah chittasya dharana
Concentration (dharana) is the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place – Patanjali
Do you know the secret of tight-rope walkers? They concentrate on a single point in space to help maintain their balance. Walking across a log in the forest you will discover the same principle, or when practicing a difficult balancing pose on the mat. Beyond the physical skills of balance and focus, learning to hold your mind steady on one point is the fundamental basis of classical yoga.
Raja yoga is aimed at stilling the mind-field (citta) to behold our true nature, and emphasizes how one-pointed concentration activates the mind’s innate capacity for self-knowledge. Besides yoga, accomplishing anything in this world – whether it is a business, a skill, or a dream – required concentration.
To develop concentration you must be willing to train the monkey-mind. Meditative practices are essential, but in the midst of worldly life, one of the easiest ways is to find something you’re really interested in and give yourself to it totally. Watch as your attention expands your skills, knowledge, and progress and feel the reward that focus brings you. As you become aware of how and why you get distracted, many insights on how your mind works will be revealed to you.
The Buddha taught that the mind is like a stringed instrument: tuned too tight it will snap, too loose and it won’t play. Your work is to learn to tune your mind to the right pitch for the task at hand. Maintain a relaxed focus and your mind will start to become your ally in the dance of life.
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