35: Naval Gazing

drishtiSometimes when I teach I ask students to be more aware of where their focus is. Maybe to not look at themselves or those around them. In yoga this is called drishti. Drishti can be traced back to the sanskrit word Drs  which means ‘to see’.

When we move through this life we interpret out world through our vision. Our eyes are the sensory gateway to our minds. What we see is reflected in what think. More importantly how we see will affect our thoughts, our emotions and our actions. When we look at something we may start to judge or interpret that in our minds, we will file our vision as good or bad or needing more attention. It seems very difficult to just observe and not add some story to what we see.

When we practice drishti which is single pointed focus during our asana practice we are directing our attention in focused way to some point, be that the nose, the fingers, the sky. When we direct our attention like this especially when our body is going through what might be some challenging moments we are training ourselves to practice strength and steadiness of the mind regardless of the circumstances, this in turn develops a deeper inner practice. If the eyes are wandering so is the mind, and as Jois says’ no drishti, no yoga happening’.

If you have a clear calm mind which is focused and engaged on drishti during your practice you will  start to strip away the reactive patterns, layers of ego and pain in your heart. By concentrating on a single point you will be less distracted.

Here are some gazing points.

Between the eyebrows

Gazing upwards

Navel Gazing

Gazing towards Fingers or Toes

Gazing towards the thumb

Gazing to the left or right.

Practice for today: The point where your mind rests will determine your success along the path today. Try practicing drishti even if it is to rest your eyes from the computer screen. See how this brings calmness and clarity to your day.

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