Dharana means concentration. The idea of dharana is to focus your mind on one object, place or idea so that it quiets and calms the mind. It is the 6th of the Eight Limbs of Yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.
How do we relate and apply this in our modern lives?
As we grow up, unavoidably there would be a lot more responsibilities, duties and happenings going on around us. Work, family, relationships, health, financial and not to mention the constant development of one’s personal growth. Given the multiple things that we have to juggle on a day-to-day basis, I find that I tend to multitask and as time goes, my attention span becomes shorter and I turn to be more impatient. My brain is also constantly running with thoughts that I can’t seemed to tame, at least not for a long period of time. Thoughts would seep out unexpectedly and by the time the consciousness is back, then only I would realise that I have been distracted. The mind seems to run on its own even while I am asleep, as sometimes I could even recall my dreams quite vividly.
Hence I started applying Dharana, where I would focus my mind on a mantra and chant the mantra internally in my mind. This has been a challenging practice for me.
But this is where Tapas (which is under Niyama, the 2nd of the Eight Limbs of Yoga) also comes into place as well. One would have to practice discipline and austerity and persevere through the initial stage before a habit is formed. Personally, I also find that reading helps me to concentrate better. When I am reading, I will fully concentrate on the book and this have helped me in my younger days to sharpen my concentration. However, it started becoming worse only when I started working. Guess I have to go back to cultivating a stronger reading habit as well!