Raja Yoga – Part 12: Dharana

We are from the Same Source! (Photo by Kalidas)

We are from that, the same Source! (Photo by Kalidas)

We had been discussing the fifth limb of Raja Yoga, pratyahara in the last post. We understood how to control the mind and thereby control the senses by the processes described in last five steps.  These were bahiranga(external) practices. Next three steps in Raja Yoga viz. dharana, dhyana  and samadhi are called antaranga(internal) practices.

Let us explore the sixth step of Raja Yoga,  Dharana.   The word dharana  literally means: holding, fixing or wearing. In the context of Raja Yoga, it means fixing of the mind in one place.  Our great Guru Shri Patanjali Maharishi defines dharana in a sutra as:

Deshabandhah chittasya dharana | – Yoga Sutras 3.1

Fixing the mind in one place is dharana.Very short and easy! Let us understand in detail.

After mastering  earlier steps of Raja Yoga to control our mind and senses,  our mind has become completely  peaceful and serene. Now what to do with the controlled mind? Where should we need to fix it? That is what dharana deals with.  We need to fix the mind in any one of the following internal places: navel, heart, crown of the head, tip of the tongue or nose and between of the eye brows. We should practice just turning the mind’s attention in a chosen place.

What should we do with  external objects or things? Commentator of Yoga Sutras, Shri Vyasa Maharishi clarifies:

….bahye va vishaye chittasya vrittimatrena bandhah |

In dealing with external things or objects, mind should be connected only with knowing and acknowledging it.

What does this mean? The mind should only know the external things and just acknowledge it. It should not go into analysis mode, e.g. judging good or bad and get entangled in an infinite thought process.

So, what is the overall practical technique of dharana?

We need to bring our attention to a chosen place like e.g. tip of the nose. Anything happens externally just know it, acknowledge it and bring back the attention to the tip of the nose again. That is all! With continuous practice, our mind will be trained to get fixed in one place.

This is a great technique to focus the mind. But, kids! do not try this at home!  Just joking! Usual warning applies here too: This powerful practice must be done under the supervision of a Guru (master).

We learned how to focus the mind at this stage. What should we do next? We will address it in the upcoming article.

Next post: Raja Yoga- Part 13 on Dhyana. Stay tuned!

Sarvasyarti hare Devi Narayani namostu te |

Our salutations to Devi Narayani, who eliminates all our problems!

Om Namah Shivaya ||

– Kalidas

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