Focus-Pocus: Balancing With Your Drishti
The Vata energy this spring has felt particularly frenetic so far. Vata is an Ayurvedic term for imbalance of air/wind within the body and our environment. March was more like Godzilla than a lion and its exit was about as gentle as Lindsay Lohan driving home on a Saturday night. From the unruly weather to the astrological antics, I’ve been craving grounding time..literally. The whole point of my hike these days is to reach the spot in the rolling, green hills and plop down amidst the wildflowers. It’s a welcomed opportunity to get down low, root in and simply gaze. Finding time to practice balancing poses on my yoga mat has also been helpful. Rooting the one standing leg down in Half Moon pose while my cat attacks my toes helps me perfect the concentrated focus of my drishti.
I first heard the word drishti ten years ago in a grueling ninety minute power yoga class. The instructor padded through the room as groovy, downtempo sitar music piped through the speakers. She reminded dozens of us to remember our drishti, our gaze, our focal point as we lumbered through balancing on one leg and eventually contorting into a human upside-down L by grasping our right toe with our right fingers, escorting it out to the side. I found the instructor’s advice helpful as I wavered between my internal panic shouting “You’ve GOT to be joking!” and my ego taunting, “You’re up front sister, so make it look good.” Feeling my standing foot rooting into the floor, I softened my eyes, as if I were a wise old rishi and peered right into Ganesha’s belly button who was painted on the front wall.
The drishti serves us in our daily lives both on and off the mat. This soft gaze isn’t a daydream, nor is it a laser-like focus. It’s as if we’re focused on something from a faraway vantage. Some might call this the witness, some call it detachment. I call it stepping back from the window. Our sixth chakra is the energetic center located between our eyes at the frontal lobe of the brain. Often called the ‘third eye’ it is the place of insight and clarity. We get ‘downloads’ of information through the Crown chakra and the a-ha! arrives at the sixth chakra. I speak about the sixth chakra being like a large picture window with a gorgeous expansive view. So often our energetic noses are pressed right up against that window fogging it up. In other words our internal focus is so externalized that we clog up the clarity and are left with a tension headache in the center of our foreheads. The drishti helps us to soften, step back and take in the entire view.
When we overthink something, we mistrust and disengage with the intuitive and rely heavily on the rational. The rational is more linear thinking, so when we orient ourselves with it more than the intuitive we also feel more discomfort in the chaotic nature of the universe. In this discomfort, exists a constant swirl of reasoning to the point we rationalize ourselves into a state of separation. We spend more time reasoning rather than gaining insight on the broader perspective. We’ve got to step back from the window. Aligning the rational with the intuitive helps us to release our hold on the ‘supposed to be’ and soften into ‘what is’. It’s in this place where we find solace, peace and even compassion for where we and others live on the unified path.
Because energy follows focus, the drishti is essential in establishing a clear path out of whatever shenanigans life brings us. The drishti helps me from pulling my hair out in rush hour traffic. It helps me turn the other cheek from the taunting jelly beans in my daughter’s Easter basket. It’s greatly assisted in opening me to a deeper level of energy healing as I look beyond this dimension of reality. It’s also a powerful tool when I simply don’t have the answers to something horribly tragic.
The practice of drishti is uncomplicated if we allow it. Simply envision yourself at the forefront of your forehead, nose pressed up against the window. Now, soften your eyes take three steps back from the window. Expand and notice the periphery. Doing so will help to calm the mind and restore your energy. Since energy follows focus, solutions may even reveal themselves effortlessly.
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