Accessing the inner gaze
In Yogic science there are points in the body and in the mind called Dristis (inner focal points) that help to guide the focus and energy of the posture to the appropriate places. For example, when doing a back bend like cobra, often the dristi is directed to the area between the eyebrows. This along with the naturally constricted breathing created by the back bend stmulates the pineal and pituitary glands to help balance the hormonal chemistry in the brain. There are many dristis in Yogic science, this is just one.
Dristsis also exist in the mental / behavioural aspect of the practice as well. For example, a series of postures geared toward chest and shoulder opening will sometimes be accompanied by focusing on loving-kindness through mantra repetition, visualization or paying attention to the sensations of the body and emotions while doing the “heart opening” postures. This is another type of inward gaze.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states that one of the most important aspects of Yoga is to develop a relationship with the mind so that is can be pin-point focused on whatever the practitioner wishes and maintained without distraction. This is the essential definition of Drisiti. Imagine focusing your mind like a magnifying glass harnessing the suns energy and directing it single-pointedly toward a combusting, smoking dot on a piece of paper. With the right magnifying glass and right conditions it is even possible to melt steel…now that is some serious energy! In our personal practices we can choose a point of focus and direct our energy to it…with that much attention, growth and insight is sure to happen. One way that I choose a dristi is by asking myself “what am I resisting, and what do I truly want?” I ask this before my practice and then choose. Maybe I am feeling resistance in my heart center, maybe some resistance in my hips and glutes….maybe I have some uncertainty about an upcoming event or am just bursting with affection and hopefulness. Whatever it may be I feel it out, bring it fully into my attention and focus all my energies on it while I practice. When I practice like this there is always an unfolding that I experience in Savasana that leaves me with some insight, a sense of balance and a dissolution of resistance.
May your practice be focused and meaningful, and may you realize the miracle of your own mind.
Namaste, Joshua and Oso.