Then 52: Lesson Forty Six – What Happens if You REALLY Concentrate?

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butterflyblueskyFor him who has no concentration, there is no tranquility.

The Bhagavad Gita

How scattered we are. Most of our lives, we seem to skitter from one task to another, from one plan to another, and from one thought to another.  And then, before we know it, another year has passed,  and we are still marking our lives by time and place, by goals met or not met, and by exterior measurements.  But what is happening inside, at the core of our being?  Have we spent even a small amount of time in considering what is transcendent and eternal?  Have we made any progress at all in feeling rested, calm, peaceful, tranquil?  Has the idea of finding true happiness and contentedness occurred to us?  What, I wonder, are we waiting for?

Dharana, the sixth of the eight limbs of the Yoga Sutras, offers us guidance and inspiration.  It helps us to develop concentration that can change our lives.

LESSON FORTY SIX

CONCENTRATION – DHARANA

I am not sure how it happened to me.  Many years ago, I had an experience some call shaktipat, a spontaneous opening into Truth and a spark of enlightenment.  I didn’t expect it and had little idea what it meant.  Of course, I had been studying yoga and teaching for some time, but this was way beyond anything I could have anticipated.  My life changed in seconds.  Somehow I was spontaneously drawn to certain behavioral changes.  One of them could have been identified as dharana, I began to focus on the mantra Om Namah Shivaya.  It was not just present during meditation.  I chanted it either out loud or quietly almost every waking moment.  And I continued to do this for months.  If I was in a place where I could not chant it out loud, I had my mala (like rosary) beads I could inconspicuously move through my fingers, knowing that the mantra flowed with each touch.  I was steeped in concentration, and miracles began to unfold around me.  Things like time and space could alter. Wow, I would think to myself with wonder.

Certainly, you don’t have to choose something in sanskrit or anything else that is not familiar to you.  Not at all.  You could choose to focus on an image, like a rose or a statue, or you could give concentration to a word, like peace or love or God.  Whatever you choose, you must try to block out everything else.  This is, in fact, a kind of precursor to a good meditation practice, but you don’t have to see it that way.  Just let it be, preferably in the morning before too much is happening, a delineated time, say ten minutes or more, when you give attention to nothing, nothing! else.  This shows you how to discipline your mind, to ward off extraneous thoughts, and creates a sense of great power.  If you can “hold steady” during this time, you can also do it at other times.  It is a reserve for when you might really need this strength.

Some say the mind is like a ‘drunken monkey,” reeling us around, flitting from limb to limb, and crazy making.  but once you know how to concentrate, you are merely the observer of the monkey.  The monkey might still be there, it just does not define you.  I can observe myself sometimes caught in the monkey trap.  But I have learned to be kind and forgiving and compassionate when this happens.  I also know it is temporary and what really matters is planted deeply and unshakably within me. Om Namah Shivaya.

One of my students, years ago, told me that her children got used to her saying or chanting Om Namah Shivaya.  At some point, she recounted, she hit a bad patch and got very upset about something going on around her.  She was visibly upset, at which point her daughter ran up to her, and with insistence, said, “Oh, Mama, Om Namah Shivaya.  Om Namah Shivaya.”  It was the band-aid to bring everything back to normal,.

Some ideas:

  • Think of something that will soothe you, that you can spend time focusing on for periods of time everyday. Some word or words, an object, a painting, anything will do. At first, you can experiment until you find your concentration object.  Try it out.
  • Once you have chosen it, choose a time, block it out, when you will do your practice of dharana. Then stay with it.  Be patient.  Trust in it.
  • Don’t expect an overnight miracle (though it could happen).  It will likely require weeks or even months to notice pattern changes in your life.
  • Return to your concentration object throughout the day.  Let it be your natural tendency to go back to it, perhaps cued by something you have chosen — on every hour, whenever the phone rings, when you see something around you.

One of the most highly respected thinkers and spiritual teachers of our time is the late Ramana Maharshi.  He said:

The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration

on a single thought are the measures to gauge spiritual success.

With concentration, you will meet your True Self and abide in Love and Light.

With love and namaste, Deanne

For more, go to http://www.deannemincer.com

About deannemincer

Deanne Mincer has been a long time student of religious and spiritual studies. For many years, she was a practitioner of yoga and in the late 1980's she was drawn to share her enthusiasm by becoming a yoga teacher. Her certification, from the Himalayan Institute, was a comprehensive two year program including the study of anatomy, diet, nutrition, Ayurvedic medical practices, the methods of teaching hatha yoga, the science of breath and the study of raja (the royal path of yoga) philosophy. She has taught yoga, meditation, and spiritual classes for more than twenty years. In the mid 1990's she became a follower of Siddha Yoga where she experienced a spiritual awakening called shaktipat and her teachings took on a new and freshly informed understanding. As Deanne continued her studies, she learned level one in Reiki and also sutdied with Henry Grayson, Ph.D. where she refined her work with muscle testing and the complex of energy healing methods Dr. Grayson has developed for use with his patients. Dr. Grayson's work is illuminated in his books, Mindful Loving and Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind. Deanne teaches group and private classes in yoga as well as stress reduction programs and meditation in many forms (sitting, walking, whirling, meditation in action, and "sleeping" meditation called yoga nidra). She has developed methods of using yoga in treating those with life threatening diseases as in the programs she designed for Gilda's Club and Friends in Deed in New York City. She was a consulting producer on an alternative health program for CNBC's Alive and Wellness, and she has demonstrated yoga on network television. Deanne created the audio DC, Inner Light Yoga with Deanne Mincer and she has spoken widely and demonstrated meditation in many venues. Deanne is an enthusiastic and joyful teacher. She is known for the keen interest she takes in her students' physical and spiritual development. She stresses that each student should work at their own pace in a non-competitive and caring environment. You can read some of the comments her students have shared in the Tesimonials Section of this site. Her teaching is grounded in her own steadfast spiritual awareness - that each of us is a being of eternal light and love and that we can all come to knowing this truth for ourselves. She is eager to help guide you on this joyful path of body, mind, breath and spirit.

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