When an ordinary mind tries to contemplate on the deeper truths about this world, it faces a limitation of depth of visualization. If I have to think about a cell for example, then I will be able to draw an image of that in my mind but I will not be able to be as minute in my visualization as minute a cell is. This is called the state of Vikshipta chitta in yoga or the state of fickle mind. To our surprise, the nature of mind is not to be fickle but focused & calm. Then where does this fickleness comes from? This is a big question that we all face now and then in our lives.
In the yogic culture, we have always been told that mind is a great tool if used correctly. It can be a savior and a destroyer both. The fickleness of mind is an outcome of our improper utilization of the abilities of mind. The modern lifestyle with all its goodness, also poses a serious challenge in front of us. That challenge is to experience a peaceful state of mind. To have a mind with least disturbances. The continuous influx of information has become a concern for many of us as majority of people find it difficult subconsciously to process that information and withstand the responses and reactions generated as a result of that processing.
Yoga speaks about bringing the mind to a state where it is least receptive of unnecessary stimulations from the surrounding environments. This is made possible by following a well organized routine of practices that are conducive to attain such state. That routine is called Ashtanga Yoga or the eight limbs of Yoga. These eight limbs are eight steps towards empowering the mind and gaining control over tendencies and thought patterns. A fact that cannot be ignored is that mind can be disciplined. It is capable of adaptations. The recent studies in Neuroplasticity of the brain confirms this claim made by the yogis for thousands of years. In Ashtanga Yoga the practice of the 6 step is called Dharana. Dharana word literally means to acquire or to hold. It involves practice of holding the mind to one particular spot whether it is physical or virtual. After following the previous 5 steps of purifying, aligning & energizing the mind, it becomes fit for Dharana or concentration.
The process is defined as
“Deshbandha Chittasaya Dharana”
“Holding the mind to one spot is defined as Dharana”
The spot referred here can be anywhere from a body part to a virtual image of any object to any sensory experience. The list is really comprehensive. When mind becomes pure & light the ability to hold it on one spot is intensified. This empowers the mind to cut down its reactionary tendencies and become more immersed into that unique object on which it is held. In the long run Dharana enables the mind to gain increased awareness and concentration. It also benefits in gaining clarity of thoughts, eradicates the dissipations, removes fickleness and generates mental strength and agility.
Gradually Dharana must be developed by an unbroken stream of practice with enough patience and perseverance. The yoga aspirants must incorporate this in their daily routine. You can choose an object of your own choice to make the whole practice more interesting and to enjoy the fruitions.
Happy yoga practice to all of you
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