What is Dharana
The sixth limb of yoga - Dharana is the practice of holding one-pointed focus. It doesn't come naturally to us with 60-100 thousand thoughts a day, to hold one - just one - can feel like a real challenge. This is some intense training of the mind.
It takes practice and often creates frustration and resistance at the beginning that can feel counterproductive to what you are trying to achieve. In this space, we have to relax, release judgment, be graceful, and kind towards ourselves. We put so much effort into our lives whereas this is a practice that requires no effort which can feel almost impossible.
Just like going to the gym to work out your physical body, the below practices are a workout for your mind. Similar to the physical benefits of working out these practices can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and develop strength.
A few ways to practice are:
Setting an intention - it can be a word or a feeling
Focus on the breath - a pattern that comes easily to you
Repetition of sound - aloud or in the mind
Candle gazing - a personal favourite
It is a merging of oneself into these spaces into the intention, the breath, the sound, the essence of the candle. In the moments where this is achieved we feel moments of union. We lose the sense of self. This is not a part of our physical experience, it is an expansion of our consciousness. It's Dharana.