There are eight limbs of yoga (Read our earlier blog here) – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi. Among these, the ability to focus on the present moment and pay a profound attention to a chosen object is taught by the sixth limb of yoga – Dharana .
Three hours to finish your project. Tic-tac, tic-tac…you have a new Facebook notification on your phone, birds are chirping outside, your neighbour just decided to clean his house's porch. Two hours left…ideas fly away as you decide to look see what’s new on Facebook – oh, your ex-colleague got married. Should you take a walk? It’s so sunny outside. Maybe you should clean your porch, the neighbour didn’t have such a bad idea. Time’s up. Deadline missed. Panic.
Finding the best focus to accomplish a task may seem like mission impossible at times. Everywhere you look, there are distractions: a sound, a voice, your phone or just the avalanche of thoughts that cross your mind every second. Finding the strength to focus and finish a task without getting distracted is not easy. The feeling of unfinished task can be stressful, and not being able to focus can disrupt the entire flow of the day.
With the countless sources of distraction that surround us, having a laser-pointed focus is practically impossible. The best example of intense, directed focus are the predators. They target their prey, chase it and make sure they catch it. They want the prey, they get it.
Life is too short to juggle with tasks; take one thing at a time and let your worries fly away. Dharana precedes the state of meditation, but in order to be able to reach this superior state of mind, you need to focus on one image, one sound, one thought or one object. Even though your mind wanders while you are trying to concentrate, always try returning to the original object of focus. Practice is the key to success when it comes to Dharana.
This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do, since technology has crept its way into our lives in the past decades. It is almost impossible to imagine how our lives would be without a smartphone, computer or other devices. Unplug from technology for a little while, set a timer (if necessary) and direct all of your energy towards a single activity. You will instantly feel good, which will boost your performance and creativity. Keep things simple - take one step at a time and you will be able to distinguish details, colours, sensations. It’s simply magic.
Visualising your goals is the first step into achieving them. Most of us, instead of visualising success, we visualise failure, obstacles, distractions. The natural process of focusing is widely disturbed by such factors, when logic is overcome by emotions, fears, ego or lack of confidence. Try to visualise daily your success, your desired outcome. When goals are clearly represented in your mind, obstacles tend to diminish – Dharana will guide you through.
One of the most effective techniques to practice Dharana is meditation, more precisely, visual mantra meditations. Mandalas, a perfumed candle light or a picture are great start to visual meditation. If you prefer mental representations, just close your eyes and focus on a mental image, sound or emotion – the intensity of your focus will increase for sure.
Finish cooking or get the kids to the soccer training - these days people need to multitask than ever before. But there are ways to practice Dharana in simple ways. Such as getting lost in a book, or watching sunrise or sunset. Dharana is all about concentrating on the present and blocking all the disturbing factors. Most of the time, it is not all about the external factors, the biggest distraction comes from within you. However, concentration can get better with practice. Keep practicing, keep shining!
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