The Sanskrit word Dharana literally means to concentrate or to deeply focus ones attention. It is the practice of intentionally channeling ones thoughts on a certain thing. Whether you are focusing on an important object at work, or you are focusing on every step you take during a run, by concentrating deeply you can reach new levels of awareness in anything you do.
The word Dharana means both the practice of deep concentration and it also is the state of being in which you attain deep concentration. Ideally, dharana should be performed at every moment of the day. It’s synonymous with the adage “being in the moment”. It is being deeply immersed in the moment…in whatever you are doing, thinking, saying or feeling in the moment.
Dharana can be practiced within any context. When you are speaking to another person, focus on the words that you use and the tone of voice that you use. When the other person is speaking to you concentrate on what he/she is saying. When you are eating attune your attention to the sight, texture, taste of the food. Immerse yourself fully when you are playing. When you practice pranayama, or deep breathing, focus your attention on the breath and feel the breaths’ depth, rhythm, texture and other nuances. When practicing hatha yoga, maintain your concentration on your movement and linking your movement with pranayama.
You may also have a certain injury that you are trying to heal through yoga. Allow the intention of healing yourself to be your dharana, your focus. Perhaps you have a part of your body that needs more flexibility or strength. That too can become your dharana within your yoga practice.
Dharana can bring a richness to one’s life. It will make the moment more complete and full. It brings a certain sense of importance to whatever one is doing. When you are only doing this and only concentrating on this, then nothing else exists at the moment.
Meditation, pranayama, and hatha yoga should be practiced to increase deeper levels of focus and concentration. Furthermore, by focusing your mind within these techniques, you can reach new levels of awareness. Dharana can help to enrich your meditation, pranayama and yoga experiences.