Within a yoga practice Drishti is generally defined as your gaze or a focal point. It helps focus the eyes on one spot so the mind can relax and let go of all the other potential disturbances for the eyes. It is a method of Pratyahara or the practice of drawing the senses within. Our five senses give us our own experience of the world, yet they can be very distracting. The senses continually pull us outward. And one of our practices, Drishti, helps us to turn that focus inward. In this way, our yoga practice can become a moving meditation if the eyes are steady.
This month, we are going to shift our focus (pun intended) to something even bigger than just where our eyes are focusing while we are on our mats. Let’s take a broader look and see where our focus is at in our lives? What do we spend our time focusing on – Facebook, the media, protests, anger, separation?
Our world is a mess right now. So much chaos going on. What are you focusing on? Are you getting sucked into the chaos and the hatred going on? It is easy to! Watching an hour of news a day can rile up the senses and emotions. Facebook can be so charged! Do you feel like you are better than the people the media is focusing on or do you sympathize with them so much that you feel everything they feel?
When we put most of our focus on the anger, hatred, chaos, bigotry, sexism and inequalities we start to believe that that is the only way. That those things are factual and you start to believe the exaggerations. Maybe you resonate because of something that has happened to you or someone you know in the past. In general, we start to limit our view of the world and break ourselves up into opposing groups. We lose the higher perspective that we are all connected.
What happens if you turn the news off? Check facebook only a couple times a week? Shift where we are spending our time and energy? Our minds are tricky things. They like to stay in the chaos, anxiety, worries and loop through the things we could have done better from our day. If you aren’t sure that the things our minds repeat make a difference then try saying the word “war” 10,000 times in a day, every day for a week. Do you think this would have an impact? Where the mind goes, energy flows.
Can you start shifting your focus to see good things in this world? Have you noticed the amazing sunsets we’ve been having lately? Yes, they are because of smoke in the air, but that doesn’t make them any less beautiful unless your mind tells you to. The trees are beginning to shift into fall colors, there are still wonderful flowers blooming. Even just looking up at the sky with the clouds can lift my spirits. When you are looking at your life and your choices, ask yourself if this activity or thing will make you feel better or worse. Will you feel more aligned with your highest self or with your ego self? Does it serve others or just you? Take positive actions and you will begin to overcome the negativity of the world.
When we want to change our focus, unfortunately it doesn’t just happen in a flash. It takes dedication and attention to the matter. Setting aside 15-30 minutes every day (ideally at the same time to make it an even stronger habit) for mediation or mantra is a great start! Getting your body to sit down in one spot is the majority of the work. The mind is a wonderful distractor of doing good things for ourselves. It can come up with a list a mile long of things you should be doing instead of taking 15 minutes out of your day to focus on the light within.
Once you do sit down, take a couple minutes to just breathe deeply and mindfully. Use the drishti of the eyes to focus on something uplifting like a flower, an image of a saint, a candle, or focus the mind on the inner light of love in the heart. A mantra can be another useful tool to change your focus. Mantras are power packed phrases that call to an aspect of God within you. It brings this aspect of your own divinity to the surface so you can feel it and be it. Some mantras to consider:
- Om mani padme hum (helps you see the jewel of your true self within)
- Om nama shivaya (connects you to all of nature and ignites transformation)
- Om gum ganapataye namaha (helps you overcome obstacles)
- Om dum durgayae namaha (a mantra for protection)
To close this special time offer love and gratitude. Find something to be grateful for and feel that you are love. Love is your true nature. If we focus on this aspect of who we truly are every day, we will start to feel it seep into the rest of our lives. Our relationships will improve. We will handle stress and anxiety better and we will be able to maintain our own sense of calm amidst any storm.