The Ajna Chakra is our command center and often referred to as the third eye chakra. This chakra relates to our ability to see clearly. Where our eyes go our attention follows. We are constantly bombarded by ads, noises, people, cars, buses, and everything within your periphery. We might not even realize that our attention is being dragged in many directions, but generally unless we are making a conscious effort to be one pointedly focused then we are probably letting our eyes wander.
If we have our eyes darting in many directions our attention is split and unable to focus. When I am writing this blog post, or generally when I work on my laptop I have 6 programs running at the same time – people trying to chat with me, and every little while checking my email. So in order to stay focused it is important to be aware of what task you are working on, and what other things are not necessary to be in your visual arena.
When our eyes and minds are overly stimulated we can cloud our intuition and wisdom. Drishti is a sanskrit term for a gazing technique that develops concentration, and teaches you to see the world as it really is. We can practice drishti during our asana practice. Rather than allowing your eyes to roam around the room control and direct your eyes to one point, and then your attention will follow and you are practicing drishti.
As visual creatures we can be easily distracted and taking class in a large group or one-on-one can give your eyes many chances to roam. Skimpy clothing, odd outfits, dirty floors, loud breathers, loud talkers, and music are some of the many distractions you may encounter when you are trying to be present with your yoga practice. Our eyes take in everything we see and assimilate it, and when we are constantly distracted our ability to see the world clearly is clouded by unnecessary data.
The drishti is not a forced gaze, but a soft gaze where your attention is guided to that one point. You could easily be staring off into space and still not be aware of what is happening so take care to notice when the mind wanders. This practice of drishti teaches us the skills for consistent ekagraha or single pointed focus. Being able to come to a single pointed focus reduces stress, calms the mind and the body.
One way to practice bringing your mind to a one pointed focus is through candle gazing meditation. Where the eyes go the mind follows, so as you bring your eyes to fix on one point your mind also fixes on one point. Light a candle in front of you and allow your eyes to have a soft gaze on the candle flame, with your attention guided to that one point allow the breath to flow evening in and our your nose. Try this meditation for 5 min the first time and then gradually extend your time over the next few weeks.