Drishti is the Sanskrit term used for focused gaze. It is an external gazing point that helps the mind to concentrate. It can also be used inside, as a point of focus for meditation technique.
Drishti is in direct relationship with balance and balancing poses. If the gaze is not focused, the mind is not focused and balancing on the feet, one foot or hands will be more difficult. In order to help balance the gaze is shifted forward on a spot on the floor that doesn’t move. If the mind is calm and the breath is moving the balance will inevitably come.
In asana practice drishti is focused on different parts of the body not only to refine the posture but to direct the vital life force energy or prana to these points.
Drishti and example asanas
1. nasAgrai – nose tip- flat back, cobra- up dog
2. bhroomadhya – third eye- floor bow- camel
3. nAbii cakra – Navel- down dog
4. hastAgrai – Hand- warrior A/B, Triangle
5. pAayoragrai – toes- standing head to feet, seated forward fold
6. pArshva – side- extended angle- twists
7. angushta madhya – thumbs as in the start of surya namaskAra
8. urdhva – up to the sky
Drishti incorporates principles from the 8-limb path
It relates to the fifth limb of yoga (pratyahara)- sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb dharana- concentration.
Is withdrawal of the senses. It is the connection to the five sense organs—sight, touch, taste, hearing and smell—then learning how to move beyond them. It is like a turtle drawing its limbs into it's shell. The turtle’s shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. A practice of turning the attention deeper within. Ahara means food, or anything we take into ourselves from the outside, prati, against or away. Pratyahara control of ahara, or gaining mastery over external influences, by turning within.
• Bubble protection meditation
• Shambhavi mudra
Is defined as Concentration. The nature of mind is that it wanders. Dharana is the practice of eka graha, one pointed focus. To concentrate your attention on one technique, to prepare the mind for meditation. Drishii helps the mind concentrate. The practice of dharana is to learn how to shift the external gaze to internal presence. To dissolve the external world (pratyahara) while the external gaze is focused on one spot. Drishti should be soft, hazy, out of focus, to not overwork the eyes.
• Exercise the eye muscles
• Blood flow to the optic nerves
• Align the neck and head in asana.
Drishti and intention
Drishti can be the heightened focus, the single point, on a higher intention (sankalpa) or feeling. It can direct your mind or heart’s intention to a spiritual focus or God.