I'm going to kick off a little series here to help illuminate some of the "mystical" words that you might come across in the world of yoga. They're just Sanskrit, but the words often have a much deeper meaning than a simple English translation can provide. So let's get this party started!
I just spent the last four hours trying to finagle the look of this here old blog. Four. Hours. And the time just flew by. I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed by something that I had such one-pointed concentration for so long. The ability to focus so acutely on one thing is the first step in successful meditation, and is called dharana(one of the eight limbs of yoga ) in Sanskrit. In today's world, where we all feel the impulse to constantly be reaching for our phones, looking at our Facebook feed, and checking our email, the ability to concentrate is increasingly more difficult and rare. Lucky for us, though, it's also something we can practice. The brain is a muscle, and just like we exercise our bodies during an asana (yoga posture) practice, we can also work on improving our dharana. The next time you have a few minutes to spare while waiting for an oil change or something, and you feel the urge to reach for your phone for the 100th time that day, don't. Try this instead.
Sit where you can see outside if you're not there already. Pick four objects at roughly equal distances from you, starting at your feet and ending at the farthest distance you can see. Look at each for 60 seconds or so, really concentrating on the object. Think about where the object came from, how it got there. What it might feel like. Its purpose. Then move to the next object, going further away from you. When you get to the fourth object, reverse the order until you're back at your feet. There, now your brain is stronger! So much more productive than checking to see who's eating what for dinner or needs something in Mafia Wars.
Sunset near Great Basin National Park. Ahhhhh.
When was the last time you were able to focus and just lose all sense of time? Bet you didn't even know you were practicing yoga... ;)