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Dharana is the gathering of consciousness and focusing it within. This is otherwise known as contemplation. Many times techniques that we think of as meditation technically fall under the limb of contemplation. Semantics I guess…but we’re getting pretty technical here.
With this concept, we filter out all other distractions and hold an object in the center of our attention. With the previous limb, we remove all distractions with Pratyahara, drawing all of our senses inward. Now we begin to focus on one concept or object, keeping our full attention on only that.
Do know of someone, or have even said yourself “I just can’t Meditate? I can’t keep my mind still!” Guess what!? Hardly anyone can! And that’s the point of this, to help calm and focus the mind. Is it hard at first? Oh hell yes. But with practice, it becomes easier.
When it comes to overall wellness, Dharana is the single most important activity to do daily. It aids in focusing and calming the nervous system. It decreases irritability and increases patience. Many institutions promote this in post-stroke rehab, and schools are implementing this with children struggling with behavior problems. Seriously…gaining control of our Monkey Minds is imperative if we want to have balance in our lives. If there’s no time for anything else, add 5 minutes of concentration in a day. You will never regret it.
There are several different ways to quiet our minds. If you don’t respond to one technique, give another one a try. This list is not exhaustive.
- Visual. Try gazing at an object and holding that in the center of your attention.
- Focus on the breath.
- Conceptual. Focus on one concept such as peace, or love.
- Mantra. This is traditionally given by a teacher but can be chosen independently. This is a focus on one word. There may be a use of prayer mala with this. This is my favorite.
- Repeating a prayer. Pick a prayer…any prayer.
- Reading a passage and meditate on it.
Steps to Dharana
- Find yourself in a comfortable seated position. You can sit on the floor, in a chair, laying down…most importantly you want your spine straight.
- Spend a few moments breathing easy, noticing how you feel without judgments.
- Pick one of the above techniques, and meditate on that ONE thing.
- When your mind begins to wander…and it WILL, gently bring your mind back to focus.
- If you’re a beginner start out with just three minutes here. Slowly increase your time as you feel comfortable.
The most important thing here is to be easy with yourself. Don’t wrestle your own mind back to your subject of focus. This gives us an opportunity to be gentle with ourselves. Do not judge yourself for your wandering mind. We’re all human people. 😉 This practice will help bring steadiness and focus to your mind, as long as you practice consistently.
Seriously. Dharana is the single most important activity to do daily. You and your family will thank yourself for it.