A Focused Gaze by Christopher Temple

Drishti -a focused gaze, inward or external. It is a means for developing concentrated intention within one’s practice; physical or meditative.

Recently I have been exchanging ideas with some fellow yogis about the physical practice of yoga. We were discussing how frustrating it can be to deal with an injury or some trouble spot in the body. Unless you are not human, there is a good chance that you too have experienced a cranky shoulder or an achy lower back or some other physical challenge that makes it hard for you to enjoy a deep, rich, focused practice. It is easy to treat this discomfort with judgement rather than embracing it as part of the journey, or even to try to ignore it as we painstakingly more from posture to posture within the practice. It can unground us, if we let it, making it seemingly impossible to focus our energies toward the task at hand; being present.

Within the practice of yoga, we try to focus our concentration towards a single point, a drishti, which is usually something along the lines of the breath, a particular part of the body depending on the pose, or even an energetic intention towards someone or something in one’s life. The idea behind this is that by creating this internal or external focus we quiet the busyness of the mind. ‘yogash chitta vritti nirodhah’ the cessation of the mind stuff is yoga (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)

What if, in our dealing with this struggle, the universe is presenting us with its own idea of what we should focus upon. I’ve been told sometimes we spend a lot of time searching for tools that have already been handed to us. What if this pain, the very thing that we think is a distraction, is the very thing that is going to deepen our connection to ourselves, to this moment and ultimately to the joy of life. This pain, or dis-ease could be the drishti for our next practice rather then the distraction. We can use this trial; this challenge, as the tool for us to celebrate our humanity and to rejoice in the human struggle. In humility we can ask for the grace to move forward through life with this challenge or maybe just to move to the next pose and embrace the fact that we cannot go on without this grace. How we accept our challenges is the difference between suffering or living in true freedom. The choice is always ours.

Namaste Mother Flowers,

Chris Temple

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