Last week we introduced the sixth limb of yoga — Dharana — focus. Concentration seems simple on the surface but as yoga goes it’s more about letting everything else fall away.
Grab a candle. A real one is better than a battery operated one, but both will work fine. You could also use a looped video of a flickering candle flame.
Find a place where you can sit upright comfortably. Grab any pillows or blankets you need to support your practice.
Dim the lights and shut the shades to a level that is comfortable. The darker, typically, the better.
If time is of the essence, set a timer for 20 minutes. If time is not an issue, sit as long as you would like.
Set up your candle at a comfortable distance from where you’re sitting. Set it up on a table, chair, or stool to make it eye level or just slightly below eye level. If using a real flame, make sure it’s stable and all fire hazards are away.
When you’re ready, sit comfortably, blink a few times, relax the shoulders, and bring your focus to the flame.
Notice the colors of the flame, how it dances, and the shapes it makes.
You may have thoughts that wander in. In that moment, acknowledge that you’ve had a thought and bring your attention back to the flame. This bouncing back and forth between thought and the flame will soon come to an end.
Continue to stare at the flame and keep your eyes open, trying not to blink excessively.
Overtime, notice how the flame becomes the only part of your focus, and then becomes the only thing you see, maybe it even becomes part of you.
When you are ready, blink your eyes several times and slowly make your way out of your seat. If you feel compelled, take a moment to write down what you noticed and felt in your journal.
This meditation is a great way to practice the sixth limb of yoga and deepen your level of concentration. Come back next week when we talk about the seventh limb of yoga.