A yogic dharana of focusing your gaze on something steady like candle flame and preparing us for meditation.
Half of our brain is dedicated to visual processing. That’s a staggering 50% dedicated to sight and vision sight and vision. The reptilian brain (the old brain) thinks the eyes should carry a huge responsibility – to continuously perform restless scans of our environment for the sake of safety and survival. In simple words, our eyes are constantly moving with microscopic jerks (micro saccades) to feed the brain with images that fall on our retina.
The eyes need to work incessantly so that our brain has a constant stream of data of all the objects in our field of vision. It uses this data as a survival mechanism. This process was of the utmost important for the survival and success of our species. (and nowadays we feed it with SO much more than just letting the eyes ‘keep us safe😉)
SO…..turning down the optic nerve, and removing peripheral vision can be profound (and is very safe)
HOW TO DO:
- Contact lenses for some people can make this harder to do. Remove if desired.
- Darkness. Lights off. We sat completely around the room with lighted candles. All lights off as well as music. One Dharana at a time (hence why music was not used – always best to no overload the sensory inputs)
- Room should not have a draft – as iot causes the flame to flicker too much
- Get comfortable – movement does hinder the process – get as comfy as you can!!
- Candle FLAME needs to be close to top of candle – its helpful. Flame should be about chin level (we sued bolsters and blocks). Light the candle!
- Our eyelids will be partially closed since the wick is down a little – we then just come to a stare of the flame
a. Avoid blinking (it resets the process – simply just keep trying if you do!)
b. Notice everything about the flame – the way it dances, the color, maybe feel the heat – get as involved as you can.
c. Do for as long as you can or set your timer for 12-15 minutes
d. Then close your eyes (removing the dharana) and ………………………………………………….?
• Before you start.: Close your eyes and practice deep, rhythmic breathing for a few minutes. Your breath should be calm, even, and steady
• Concentrate on the brightest part of the flame – usually towards the tip. Do not engage any thoughts that arise in the mind.
• When you close your eyes, you will ll see an “after-image” of the flame. Concentrate on that image, visualizing the flame to be just the way it was when your eyes were open. This part of the practice is called Antaranga (Internal Gazing).
• The after-image disperses within a few seconds. It will disappear faster if you tense up your muscles or mind. It is meant to fade – let it do so gracefully.
At the end we did a dedication practice were each of us created a dedicated and some Anjali mudra movements as we all joined in to offer blessings to each persons beloved dedication.
Note on internal gazing practice: This is the kriya that a yoga practitioner does during hatha yoga poses – closing the eyes – looking between the eyebrows. This practice over time starts to activate a gland (pineal) and that gland creates a little glow/light.