Dharana

Dharana: Concentration is the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place. — yoga sutras

Concentration is sometimes identified with “one-pointedness” (ekagrata), but this is not quite correct, for the latter simply represents the arrest of the mental flow, while concentration implies a fixation of the mind in order to gain understanding; as such, dharana is a creative act.” — Georg Feuerstein.

Dharana means ‘to bind, to focus, to hold the mind at one point’. It comes from the word dhri, which means ‘foundation’ or ‘basis’. The foundation of the mind must be stable. Right now none of us has that stable base. Just as the earth shakes during an earthquake, in the same way we are also shaking like that much of the time. The practice of dharana comes when we have become steady, stable and unshakeable. We are unshakeable because we understand ourselves. We understand our mind, our emotions and our thoughts. We have come to terms with them so we are unshakeable. Whatever faces us and whatever situation arises we can manage it without being affected. Dharana is a higher stage, not just in meditation but in life. —Swami Satyadharma Saraswati

I was a bit annoyed at many of the definitions of dharana as focusing on one thing — that just didn’t feel right to me. I like this definition of being able to focus the mind at a stable point – it seems to fit better what I feel and observe when I am in my yoga practice.

“There is a part of each of us that would like to miss the point — a part of each of us that wants to believe that there will be no magic, no mystery, that our own life is not blessed and sacred, that our days are not a miracle, and that we are not connected to all living beings as a leaf is to a tree. In response to this predicament, we have created yoga.” — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat