Sixth limb of yoga – Dharana


“Concentration is the secret of strength.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have been on a hiatus as I moved across country 900 miles to a new home and a new job.  So somehow it seems fitting that we delve into Dharana.  Dharana is loosely translated as concentration or fixed attention.  Recently, with the move, my attention and concentration has been scattered and at times fixed.  Scattered on so many things that need to be done, and fixed or focused on getting things done.  Sometimes I have felt as if I were digging a tunnel through a mountain with a spoon other times I have been so focused that I felt like I was on a mission from God.  I just realized that I would get done what I could and it would come together.  I focused on the next thing, and the next thing until I had the tasks completed.

At times while packing and when moving, and even when unpacking, I had a feeling of being overwhelmed.  I plowed ahead, working on things most days until I just literally ran out of steam and fell into bed.   The concentration on one thing at a time helped to get all done that was needed.

This concentration on moving has caused me to look at things that I hadn’t in a long time, and make decisions about what is important to keep and what can be tossed or donated.  I had to focus on what was needed to take and what could be left behind.  As I concentrated on moving ahead with my life and the changes I realized that if I focus my attention on one thing at a time, all the others fall away.  The task at hand became the preeminent object of my attention.

This focus is also something that I’ve noted when diving into a good book and becoming so absorbed all else falls away.   It is the moment when a musician becomes one with the music they are playing, or when an athlete gets into what they call the “zone”.  It all comes together.

Dharana is one of the last three limbs  sometimes called antaratma sadhana or the innermost quest.  It is ironic that sometimes the external changes, like moving, can spur us on to this innermost quest.  In our hectic, multitasking lives it is good to slow down and focus on one thing at a time.

One day, one thing at a time – it will get you farther than you think.  Focus and develop concentration on the task at hand, this is the first step to the innermost quest.

“Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.”  Alan Watts

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