Dristi – Our Point of Focus
There is a saying in mountain biking – at least I’ve heard there is one because I’ve never been on a mountain bike in my life. The saying is, “Where you look, that’s where you’ll go.” The idea is that if you look at the big boulder in front of you that is what you will run into.
I try to use this expression in yoga as well. It is all too easy to look at the floor when you are doing balancing poses in class. Students don’t want to look up because it is harder. But looking up, looking straight ahead is where you need to challenge yourself. It is where you need to look in order to work your mind/body connection. And it is true, that if you are doing dancer and you are looking at the floor, the floor is where you will end up. Furthermore, looking down means collapsing your spine a bit. By looking forward, you are keeping a long, neutral spine. At least in poses like tree.
It is so easy to take short cuts in yoga. Looking at the floor in balancing poses is one of them. But if you look at the floor, you will never fly off the ground. Where you look is so important, there is even a name for it: Drishti. Drishti is the yogic term for where your point of focus is for your eyes. Sometimes it is straight ahead. Sometimes it is up at your hands.
But Drishti is also a metaphor for life.
When you have the focus, when you have the concentration to find a drishti point and stay with it, it is the same thing as being in the present moment. And the present moment is where we need to be for many, many reasons.
But I focus on healing (see the continuing trend…). So, I believe that healing can only happen in the present moment. Sure you look at the past for clues, but you don’t live there. It is not your drishti. And sure, you look to the future to plan, but you cannot live there. The future is not your drishti. The only place you can truly be in control is the now.
So, let’s look a little bit more at why focusing your drishti on the now is so important.
If you can’t accept the now, you will never change. Because the now is ground zero. The now is start. But I think the more important ground zero is looking at yourself right now and learning to love THAT person. You need to look at the positives right now and learn to love THAT life. Now, that love doesn’t have to be head over heels. I think it is unrealistic to be head over heels in love with your life 24/7. And if that is what you are looking for, I think you will be very disappointed. But, I believe if you can look at what you love about yourself now, if you can look at what you love about your life now, it is easier to heal. If you hate yourself, there is very little motivation to change, grow and heal. If you hate yourself in the now you will feel as if you aren’t worth the effort. If you hate your self in the now, if you hate your life, there is a feeling of, “Why Bother? It doesn’t matter.” Or, in other words, apathy. Which is really just numbing out from the self-hatred.
I’ve been in this place. It is a dark and yucky place. A place where you are just existing, not living. Accepting the now is acknowledging the reality of your situation. Sometimes, you look at ground zero and decide where you are isn’t where you want to be. And sometimes, this realization can be used as motivation. I have had those ground zero moments.
There is another negative side to not having your drishti in the here and now. If our dristi is focused on the past, all we can think about is the bad things in the past, or the good things that we no longer have. And if our drishti is in the future, all we think about is “I’ll be happy when I lose 20 lbs. I’ll be happy when I get a boyfriend. I’ll be happy when I’m out of debt. I’ll be happy when…” It’s hard to make any of those things happen if your drishti is in the future.
Instead, if your dristi is in the present, the past doesn’t matter as much. If your drishti is in the present, you are happy in the now and whatever growth you make for the future will bring even more happiness.
So, maybe for today, or the next couple of days, try to live in the present day. When you find yourself thinking about the past, return to your life today and think of something good about it. When you find yourself thinking about the future, again, return your life to today. Even if turning your life to today is, “What can I do today to make a difference in my future.” It’s all about today. You can’t do anything, experience anything in the future. You can’t do anything about the past either. But you can control who you are today.
What do you find yourself focusing on in the past? In the future? How is it taking away from your present? What can you do today that will make today a better day? What are you grateful for today? What do you love about yourself today?
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