It is the sixth stage of classical Patanjali Yoga. Dharna is the concentration on a single point, or total attention on what is to be done at a particular moment, the mind remaining unmoved and unruffled. It stimulates the inner awareness to integrate the ever-flowing intelligence and to release all tensions. In fact without concentration nothing can be achieved. Without concentration on divinity, which shapes and control the universe, one cannot unlock the divinity within, oneself or become a universal man.
The mind should be the willing servant of the self. But it is only a very rare man or woman who possesses sufficient natural self-discipline for achieving this. It is usual for most of us that mind is either a helpless slave or tyrannical master. Without adequate orientation, we are all time affected with worldly abuses. Some of us let ourselves be buffeted by emotional storms or are forever being distracted by external stimuli, with the result that single -minded pursuit of what is truly important to us is all but impossible.
Others tend to veer to the other extreme; in an effort to set up defenses against external or emotional distraction, we become creatures of the mind exclusively, denying natural impulses. Thus in one way or other our very efforts at self-discipline defeat us, consuming energy that could more conveniently be put to constructive and creative use. These basic failures of human nature are as old as human nature itself. The yogis, wisely aware of them, long ago devised a method for dealing with the problem, and this is the basis of the practice of Dharna.
In the process of concentration one must concentrate on ‘something’ since obviously there can be no such thing as concentration in a mental vacuum. One should focus one’s attention on some image or object while determinedly shutting out everything else. Thereafter with one’s mind made to dwell closely and steadily on that object or image alone, one can ultimately achieve perfection. It goes without saying that to concentrate properly one must keep serene, which means emptying the mind of irritation, worry and distraction, not permitting any of these emotions to take hold of our mind and interfere with our desired activity or goal.
This too becomes a matter of practice. At first as one dies to concentrate on the object of one’s choice, one will find the immediate preconceptions of daily life crowding the menial faculty and hammering for admittance. The way to deal with them is deliberately to shut them out. One should learn to watch one’s thoughts dispassionately and objectively as though one may be an interested spectator, but should not permit oneself to identify with them. Then, when they begin to wander, one should shepherd them back where they wanted to be.
Dull and unispired as this will seem at first — for day-dreaming and wool-gathering are a more attractive pastime than concentrating on, say the flame of a candle — the practice will soon yield rewards. It will be surprising how quickly a little mechanical exercise will enable the person to discipline his mind that when he is called on to focus on something important, something vital, it will no longer be tempted to wander at ail.