Above is the first sutra of Chapter 3, Vibhuti Paada of Patanjali Yoga Sutra. Sutra defines the Dharana (धारणा – concentration) that is the 6th limb of Ashtanga Yoga by Maharishi Patanjali.
Meaning of Yoga Sutra
देश बन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा॥१॥
Desha Bhandhashchittasya Dharana
Desha – Native Place
Bandha – Locked or bind
Chittasya – of the chitta (mind stuff)
Dharana (धारणा) – Concentration
Concentration (dharana) is binding the chitta to a place.
Point For Concentration
‘Desha’ or place can be a spot, an object or anything which one wants to concentrate. According to the yoga sutra concentration is being aware of the desha, nothing else. It can be a mantra, a point, an image or mind itself.
Concentrating while eyes are closed is difficult in initial stages as there are more chance to get lost in thoughts or may be sleep overpowers. But when we focus on an object with open eyes, we are fixing the sense organ eye on a spot. Fixing the gaze will improve the awareness and hence less chances of sleep. And gradually with practice one does not need the outer object. One can focus with eyes closed on inner stuff or an object.
Dharana (धारणा) is concentration but dhyana is continuous flow of concentration. Thus it is very important to be able to concentrate mind.
The Wavering Chitta
‘Bhandhashchittasya‘ means binding or holding the chitta. Chitta is mind stuff where waves come and go. These waves (vrittis) don’t let the mind to stabilize. And without stabilizing the mind we won’t be able to proceed for further steps. How one can see what in the surface of pond when water is wavering. For this, water must be calm. So as we have talked about the desha, now we are be able to understand the importance of binding the chitta to a desha.
Prior to Dhyana, Dharana (धारणा) is mentioned. There is a reason behind this why maharishi patanjali gave sutra of dharana before meditation. If mind is wavering then we not be able to sit for long with concentration, thus Dhyana will not happen. Ability to focus is the foundation for meditation.
Dharana – First Step To Move Inside
The ashtanga yoga is categorized into two parts: Bahiranga and Antaranga. Bahiranga yoga is working on the outer or external to reach goal of yoga. It includes 5 limbs out of 8, namely, Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama and Prayahaara. Once one masters the bahiranga, practitioner moves to antaranga yoga which deals with the inner stuff. They are Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Dharana (धारणा) is the first limb among antaranga yoga.
Dharana (धारणा) is the foundation for meditation and hence for samadhi, the ultimate goal. In beginning a practitioner may find it difficult sitting and concentrating. Mind is the internal stuff, so to steady which is inside we are using the outer sources, steady body and fixing gaze. How will one get to know what is inside if he is busy with outer stuff. Our body and senses are usually busy in the world, vishya bhoga. So we need to internalize the senses first in pratyahaara and then we need to hold the mind to one place as its always wandering here and there.
End Of Efforts
Eventually concentrating on the outer object to object inside with closed eyes, is the way. And once dharana (धारणा) gets matured into unbreakable flow, meditation happens automatically. Meditation is not something one can do. It happens. Doing is limited to first 6 limbs of ashtanga yoga. After that, effortlessness works on its own and hence dhyana and samadhi happens.
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