THE SIXTH LIMB OF YOGA, DHARANA
Dharana is essentially the practice of concentrating the mind on a single object. This limb is a precursor for meditation. Before we meditate, we should learn to concentrate and hold a one-pointed focus. This is slowly developed through practicing the other limbs of yoga. Through Asana, the body becomes flexible and robust; Pranayama begins the mind’s direction to the breath, and Pratyahara directs the senses away from outside stimulations. Similarly, Dharana draws us deeper, settling the mind’s fluctuations until we seamlessly flow into a still and quiet state of meditation.
Dharana aims to gradually gain control of the mind and learn to maintain complete engagement on one object. Dharana is mastery of directing attention. That which we pay attention to grows; therefore, we want to focus on positive thoughts, so our intentions manifest well-being. Channelling our thoughts on a particular object helps us reach a high level of awareness. We can achieve a mental state where ego and intellect are controlled. Through this practice, the mind becomes purified and able to focus efficiently on one point of experience. When we experience anger or restlessness, the method of Dharana can help calm the mind, so we aren’t disturbed by outside distractions.
We practice Dharana by concentrating on a particular object such as a candle flame, a mantra, or a breath. As we stay connected to that one point or image, it pushes away busy thoughts. A quiet space, void of noise, and outside distraction, is suggested for this practice. Our attention may get diverted; if we can return our focus to the candle flame without judgment. This practice holds the mind in one place and repeatedly brings the reason back to that same place. The more intensely you focus on a particular object, the more thoughts fall away, creating a sense of time standing still. Maintaining a fixed concentration brings clarity to our minds. Dharana becomes more effortless with consistent practice. We can unleash our potential for inner healing and balance through a committed practice of Dharana.