I am currently in the process of purchasing a new car. Because of this, my focus has shifted to researching and looking at different types of cars as I move throughout my day. I've noticed how my attention has shifted on my morning stroller walks from what usually catches its attention to the cars that pass by and sit in my neighbor's driveways. I usually couldn't care less about cars...it's just not my thing. Yet since I am in the process of purchasing one, they have consumed my mind more and I notice that some of the cars I have been researching and "discovering" more recently have been right under my nose this entire time. They were always there, parked in my neighbor's driveways, but I was just not paying attention to them. This has reminded me of the concept "where attention goes energy flows," which is essentially drishti.
"The Sanskrit word drishti is commonly translated as “view,” “gaze,” or “point of focus.”
It is a specific point to lock your eyes or inner vision on to that is used most commonly during meditation or while holding a yoga posture. The ancient yogis discovered that where our eyes are directed our attention naturally follows, and that the quality of our gazing is directly reflected in the quality of our mental thoughts.
There are two main categories of focal points. A bahya drishti is an external gazing point that is used in externally oriented yoga practices. An antara drishti is an internal gazing point that is used in contemplative and meditative practices to encourage pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses)." - Yoga Basics
Although my car story is a very basic example of this, it has made me contemplate ways I can use drishti more in my daily life, in addition to my yoga practice.
How to Practice Drishti
In Ashtanga yoga, each pose is associated with a drishti point. Here are some examples of drishti points that are commonly used during an asana yoga practice.
Bhrumadhye Drishti: gaze between the eyebrows
Urdhva Drishti: gaze upwards
Nasagre Drishti: gaze at the tip of the nose
Nābhicakre Drishti: gaze toward the navel
Angusthamadhye Drishti: gaze at the thumb(s)
Hastagrahe Drishti: gaze at the tips of the fingers
Padayoragre Drishti: gaze at the tips of the toes
Parshva Drishti: gaze to the far right or far left (sometimes counted as two)
My favorite way to incorporate drishti in my practice is gazing past my finger tips in Warrior II, or whatever shoulder I am turning towards in twists. While poses and breathwork are physical ways to channel prana, or life force energy, drishti is a way to channel prana with the mind as well. You can think of finding a drishti point as the cherry on top of each pose.
Mentally, drishti can be utilized during meditation by finding a focal point. This can be inward or outward. Some examples of this include focusing on an object, point, or something that is not moving if the eyes are open. With closed eyes, you can also imagine an object or single point, as well as visualization.
We can incorporate drishti into our lives by focusing our attention so that we are not swayed in multiple directions, remaining grounded and centered with a clear vision. This can bring us into a flow state, also known as being "in the zone," where we are completely dialed in to whatever it is that we are doing.
As a mom, I have been using the practice of drishti to seek connection in everyday tasks with my daughter. No matter how challenging or mundane whatever we are doing is, connection is my intention and main focus. This has allowed me to be more present and playful with my daughter, creative in finding ways to connect, and helps us both to enjoy whatever it is we are doing more.
An example of this for us has been diaper changes. What once was a task I would try to do as quickly as possible while managing a wrestling toddler, has become a designated time to sing songs together and a way that we can connect and share each other's presence. Other examples of this could be finding joy, gratitude, peace, or simply focusing on the breath throughout the day. Practicing drishti allows us to focus on whatever it is that is important, hone our attention in a chaotic world, and bring us into a flow state, which is essentially presence.
When we are focused, we are present. From here, everything else flows.
What are some ways that you practice drishti on and off the mat?
With love and gratitude,