Dharana in the modern world

Turning Chaos into Clarity
Welcome Spring 2023!

Spring is in the air, and with it, the promise of new beginnings, warmer, longer days, fresh energy, and vibrant colours. I love the Spring vibe so much, even with its hay fever toll .

In this season of renewal and growth, we'll dive into the sixth limb of yoga – Dharana, the art of concentration. In today's busy world, cultivating this skill is not just valuable; it's a necessity.

“Energy flows where your attention goes”

In this month of September, I will take you on a journey to master the power of concentration as our community intention so that you can be really discerning on how and where you direct your attention.

With a laser-like focus, your effectiveness will double, your energy levels will increase exponentially and your joy will grow in ways you can’t even measure.

yellow flower field during sunset

Focusing in the Digital Age

I remember when I was at school and someone was easily distracted, teachers would tell them that they had the attention span of a goldfish. According to recent research this lovely creature can concentrate for around 9 seconds..

Well, that same research shows that our ability to concentrate has dwindled to a mere 8 seconds and that it worsens significantly in younger generations. It is clear that in this era, where we are bombarded by information, it is more important than ever to reclaim our focus.

A Multigenerational Challenge

person holding babys hand

In this era of endless distractions, the inability to concentrate has become a universal dilemma affecting people of all ages. Whether you're a digital Gen Z, a multitasking Millennial, a cool Gen Xer (like me), or a wise Baby Boomer, the struggle to maintain focus in our rapidly changing world unites us all.

The generational gap is not in the challenge itself but in how we each navigate it. So let’s explore the timeless practice of Dharana, a timeless solution that transcends generational boundaries, providing clarity and purpose to everyone seeking a more mindful life in a chaotic world.

The Path of Dharana

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Dharana is the sixth of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. It is the stage where we bring our undivided attention to an external object for a certain period of time. Dharana is a previous and necessary step for Dhyana (Meditation) and Samadhi (Oneness).

Our lives are inundated with distractions, and it's affecting our ability to concentrate. A recent poll shows that 95% of respondents struggle to truly focus for longer than a couple of minutes. Can you relate?

The Concentration Crossroads: Insights from Two Generations

I have the privilege to be part of a wonderful intergenerational community of visionaries around the world called the Elite Mentorship Forum. EMF is Peter Sage’s alumni of his world renowned 6-months transformational program. One of the modules we do in EMF is Powerful Concentration (which coincidentally? is Module 6). 

So, in my quest to understand the power of concentration and its impact I spoke with two EMF graduates from totally different backgrounds, generations and cultures to learn how improving their concentration skills have impacted their lives…

From hectic mum to present woman: Sarah's Journey...
woman in white shirt holding black ipad

My friend Sarah is 42yo, she lives in Western Australia and, like many of us, found herself extremely busy. She juggled a demanding career, motherhood, family responsibilities, and constant addiction to her smartphone.

The result? A scattered mind, an unbearable sense of unease which was having a toll on her mental health and family dynamics.

After working deeply on herself in the Elite Mentorship Forum and incorporating yoga and meditation in her life. These are her three non negotiable concentration-boosting tips:

  • Morning Mindfulness: She begins her day with a few minutes of silent reflection or meditation.
  • Digital Detox: Allocate specific times to check emails and social media, and stick to them.
  • Yoga Practice: Incorporate asanas and pranayama techniques to enhance your focus.

Viktor's Path of his Memory Trail

Viktor is a retiree in Bulgaria who discovered the transformative power of concentration in his EMF journey. He was constantly worried about his family “legacy” of Alzheimer and ageing dementia that he felt like an unavoidable curse.

Module 6 was by far one of his favourites, so much so that he made the practice of concentration his priority, bringing inner peace, surrendering to life, boosting his memory and creating mental clarity.

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Yoga's Role in Mastering Dharana

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The practice of Dharana requires devotional discipline. We can only grow what we cultivate daily and our yoga practice is a beautiful opportunity to direct our loving awareness to what matters,  in every movement, with every breath. 

Dru Yoga principles like breath awareness, visualisation techniques, mudras and mantra, makes easier to attain a state of focused concentration on and off the mat.

Here are my own favourite practices to increase concentration:

  • Tratak: Gaze at a candle for a few moments. Close your eyes and keep the image of the flame between your eyebrows for as long as possible. When the image of the flame is dissipating, open your eyes to gaze at the candle again. Repeat as many times as you need.
  • Flower Awareness: Place a fresh flower in a vase in front of you, at eye level. Gaze softly at the flower for at least 5 minutes. Notice the colours, the patterns, the size, the shape. Let yourself be immersed in the beauty of the flower.
  • Cloud (or star) gazing: Lay down on your mat outside and look at the sky. Watch the clouds or stars above and let your soul be infused with immensity and joy.
  • Ajna Centering: Close your eyes and in every breath bring your attention to the space between your eyebrows (your Ajna centre). Imagine a shiny multifaceted jewel spreading light to your forehead.
  • Word counting: Take a book and with your index finger, count the number of words until you get to a 100 without interruptions. Then increase to 200, 300 and so on. It sounds easy but is quite challenging!
Concentration: Your new super power

white and brown owl flying

Concentration is an essential skill that cascades into numerous aspects of our lives, including the relationship with ourselves, with our loved ones and with time. When you master concentration, you can become twice as effective, raise your frequency, and optimise your energy like never before. It truly becomes a super power.

As we wrap up this month's theme of Dharana, remember that the art of concentration is a lifelong practice. In a world filled with distractions, our yoga and self growth practices provide us with the tools to regain our clarity, purpose, and peace again and again.

I would love to hear your thoughts and insights. If you want to improve your concentration and focus, join me on my weekly yoga classes or join my next EMF group which is starting early November. I also have a couple of spots available for the Spring Retreat but registration closes this Friday, so be focused and book before they are gone.

"The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun. When they are concentrated, they illumine." 

– Swami Vivekananda
Dancing with Impermanence
Finding peace in the ever-changing flow of life