Dharana is the sixth limb of Pantanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga. After we’ve withdrawn our senses through Pratyahara, Dharana – contemplation, or an easeful awareness – is the next stage as our consciousness becomes more completely focused inward.
Instead of being an actual practice, Dharana is the first of three internal states that bloom from practicing the five limbs we’ve discussed previously. In this way, all of the doing is able to begin its transition into being.
In Dharana we focus the mind in one specific direction. The mind needs to have conditions conducive for this intense focus, and deep contemplation and reflection can help set the stage. To steady the mind, it must focus on a stable entity. The purpose of this object is solely as an aid for focus. Sinking into Dharana prepares the mind and body for deeper meditation, which we will cover next week.
- DEVOTION. Devotion and dedication to our yoga practice is necessary to reach the stage of Dharana and to continue to dive deeper into our true selves. These are qualities we can develop in other areas of our lives as well. The more we practice it, the easier it becomes to apply steady and consistent dedication to our practice of yoga.
Challenge: What Can You Re-commit To? (Positively Positive)
- PRESENCE. The concept of Dharana being an “easeful awareness” infers we have to be aware. We have to be conscious, observant, and present. Developing the ability to be truly present is one that gets easier with practice. The more present we are in our lives, the easier it is to settle into easeful states of peace and acceptance.
The Skill of Presence (Elephant Journal)
- PATIENCE. Since Dharana is a state and not a practice, it requires us to patiently observe and allow for the natural evolving into the next state. It cannot be forced or rushed to reach an outcome. This is the same approach we should take to our asana practice. As our bodies naturally begin to open, poses will come within our reach.
Patience is the Key to Happiness (Huffington Post)
- CONTEMPLATION. Dharana is often translated as “concentration.” While this is a true definition, in our English language it conveys an idea of forcefulness. We see this approach in many areas of our society, and it’s not one we want to bring to our practice of yoga. Contemplation encourages a more natural and easeful approach to this stage of internal development, as these last three steps of yoga cannot be rushed. Nature is an exceptional teacher in this regard, allowing space and time for every stage of growing, opening, and closing.
10 Ways to Embrace the Power of Silence (MindBodyGreen)
- GAZE. The point we focus on in Dharana can be whatever we choose, but it should be uplifting and inspiring. This will allow our hearts to open and embrace it completely. We can start with a drishti, or gazing point, such as a candle or mandala. When we turn the focus inward, however, choose something that resonates with you and stick with it. Only by using the same technique regularly will you be able to deepen the state of Dharana and of being.
We’ve reached Week 6 on our exploration through Pantanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga! If you want to catch up on the last five weeks, you can find them here: