Seeing More Clearly
Drishti: the point at which we direct our gaze while performing asana.
Humans are a highly visual species. Most of us rely primarily on vision to gather information about the world around us. We are easily stimulated and distracted by the sights we see. In asana practice, it is therefore useful to have a definitive point at which to direct our eyes lest we fall over or become distracted by the stimuli around us. When distracted, we lose our balance, bandhas, breath, and intention. We lose a layer of protection against injury and the spiritual focus of our time on the mat.
It makes perfect sense to have a prescribed gazing point for each asana as a practical and spiritual tool for maintaining focus.
But today it hit me that I could use that idea elsewhere in my life. Have you ever driven across town only to realize that you've reached your destination but you have no memory of your trip? That happened to me this afternoon while running errands, and I realized it was because I lost my drishti. Well, whatever the equivalent is for driving. Driving is just one example. I can think of many times I've not been fully focused and present during an important task.
Drishti, of course, means much more than the physical point you stare at. At its root, it's about focusing on what's crucial and blocking out what isn't. You could be staring at the correct point, but still not be focused on it. Just like I can be driving down the road and not ramming into things, but still not be fully present with the task. It's about perspective and intention.
It's about illumination.
It is a mindfulness technique that harnesses the power of the human gaze. A drishti taken properly directs our mind's eye to the deepest, simplest meaning of the task at hand.
Damn. This yoga stuff just keeps getting deeper. When they say asana practice is simply life practice, they mean it.
Get your ass on your mat. You've got work to do.
Till next week,