The first Sutra in Patanjali's third book says:
Desabandhas Cittasya Dharana
Here’s what those words mean:
Desabandhas — binding to one place
Cittasya — of the mind
Dharana — concentration
Dharana concerns the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.
When the mind is caught up with one thing or attached to one place, it is in dharana. This is the beginning of meditation. Concentration is the beginning of meditation and meditation is the culmination of concentration; they are more or less inseparable.
Here’s a real-life example of what I mean. Last week I was in the Lake District. Cumbria has been on my list for years and it’s crazy that it took me so long to visit such a beautiful part of the country. But better late than never!
We spent the first couple of days in a hotel looking out over Lake Windermere and it was quite difficult to stop ourselves just losing ourselves in the view from our room. The colours were bright and everything seemed so defined, so peaceful.
Or so we thought!
I’d been expecting walkers, dogs, families, mud and rain, but not the hordes of extreme tourists! What do I mean by “extreme”? I’m talking about coach-loads of people running — literally running — from one view or attraction to the next, taking photos, selfies, videos, chattering non-stop and complaining about not being able to find a seat in the tea shop!!
What struck me was not only the total disregard for anyone but themselves they showed, but the fact that they didn't seem to really see anything!
Smartphones mean that we’re always able to capture an image instantly, then move on. I’ve read that there are currently around two billion smartphones being used around the world and based on the ultra-conservative assumption that we each upload about two photos a day to various Internet platforms, that means we take four billion photos a day! What are people trying to capture? Markers of memories, or just web-browser bookmarks for our lives?
Yoga teaches us to have more appreciation of what’s going on right now.
Here’s a relevant quote from my go-to book:
"True reality can only be found in the ‘now’. It does not exist in our thought stream, in the past or future, in our hypothetical conversations, self talk, distractions or chronic doings. As long as we fail to fully live in the present moment we fail to experience true reality."
Bhava Ram, The Eight Limbs of Yoga
We’re missing something in our lives — me as much as anyone — and need to be able to stop and appreciate what’s right under our noses.