Dharana is concentration.
Concentration is our main faculty we use when learning or reading and when we are in a receptive listening mode. We use this faculty called dharana to help us focus upon important personal interests in everyday life. We also use it to deliberately programme our own mind and so develop its ’grooves’ of opinions and attitudes as well as conditioning our responses to external surroundings and conditions.
Developing concentration through yoga techniques aims to achieve pin-point concentration or ekagrata upon any particular selected focus. It is believed that if we can concentrate, we can succeed in using mental powers to the full. Concentration is mind power.
It is obvious that if you keep your thoughts upon success, you will most likely succeed.
If you concentrate upon failure you will do doubt succeed in failing. If you concentrate upon power, you
will become powerful.
If you concentrate upon love, you will become loving and so on.
Each of us attracts circumstances by the power of our mind’s concentration.
A definite aim will ensure that concentrated thought will bear fruit. So you must take care that the direction of your mind’s power is truly in accordance with your own welfare and deeper spiritual interests as well of that of others. This requires a choice of desired human traits, characteristics, talents, virtues, and ambitions we wish to incorporate in our ideal self image. We must seek to become the person we wish to be if we are to make the most of the years of life experience we have available. This is our first exercise in dharana – creating our plan for our own character building.
Stillness of the mind is a necessary preparation to allow concentrated and purposeful thought. It may seem to be a simple aim, to still the mind, but in fact this is usually very difficult. Our thoughts are notoriously difficult to control with their general hyper-activity often likened to a monkey in continual movement. However, with practise, we can learn to subdue this activity.
Concentration is then used as the tool to programme our mind. There are certain methods and techniques employed for this purpose. Conscious effort of thought is required to build mental ‘muscle-power’ or strong mindedness, just as effort is needed to build physical fitness. There are any interesting mental exercises to strengthen the mind employed in yoga as well as in other schools of mind training. It is usual that only a chela or serious student who has formulated a clear spiritual purpose is given the key to deeper concentration.
Concentration can also be used as a tuning-in device similar to tuning the radio. This analogy holds true in meditation when we wish attunement to ‘receive’ inspiration or intuitive guidance.
Mind power is also built up through dharana for use in meditation when it can be directed towards a higher sphere much as a rocket fuel supplies energy for lift off.