A Drishti is a focal point, it relates to the fifth limb of yoga, Pratyahara. It is also 100% necessary when you are practicing yoga in semi-darkness. I had heard of, and used, Drishti before when attempting to calm my mind or balance in some new crazy posture. However, I didn’t know how important they were until I went for Tree Pose in a room lit by candles. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Drishti (a focused gaze) is a means for developing concentrated intention. It is connected both to the fifth limb (the withdrawal of senses) as well as the sixth, Dharana (concentration). Whether you realise it or not, most asana requires, or suggests, the use of Drishti. With Tadasana, we are looking up at our thumbs. In Trikonasana, we look to the extended tips or palm of the hand. This Drishti helps with balance and proper alignment. By ignoring input from other senses and focusing on one point, we are able to control the mind and better calm the body. Rather than thinking about the woman in front of you in her perfect Lululemon outfit, you stare at your hand and remind yourself to get your hips square.
We can take these lessons with us out into the real world. A few months ago, I was chosen as a guest blogger for a website that covers everything from yoga and fitness to food and clothes. I was super excited to be picked for such an undertaking. But even with that, it took me a long time to actually write my first submission. It had to be something new, just for the website. Something that I hadn’t written about before or would write about after. Therein was the problem. I like to write about yoga, doughnuts and recipes with some sprinklings of my family life and my attempts at being a good feminist. If I want to write about it, I do so here. The post I wrote for them was never published – maybe they didn’t like it, maybe it was too derivative of what I do here. My second post, or – my planned second post – was to be about choosing a Drishti.
This is my Drishti. I have to concentrate on my kids, my husband, my job, my friends. Why did I think I could (successfully) write for two blogs? Why was I giving this other blog equal, if not greater importance? This is my blog, why isn’t it worthy of my full attention? Why was I ready to put this to the side for acceptance/affirmation from someone else?
In class, we sit on the mat and block out the rest of the world. At home, I sit with my kids and block out work. It’s so easy to get caught up in the rest of the world. We allow our eyes, and by extension – our hearts and minds, to wander and create distractions that can lead us further away from the task at hand. That task may be a complicated yoga posture or time with your spouse. Either way, allowing the mind to wander, picking up your smartphone in the middle of dinner, is lessening the energy you are giving the person in front of you or the task at hand. In this hyper-connected world, it’s easy to get distracted. When you find yourself walking down the wrong path, or falling out of a yoga pose, don’t give yourself a hard time for it. Acknowledge the mistake, dust yourself off and try again.