We refer to specific focused gazing points as Drishtis.  In the discipline of yoga, these points are to call your attention and direct the energy lines of your pose but also to help you firmly reject the calls that are coming in from the rest of your life.  It is important to reflect on the instruction to adhere to very well defined focal points.  This creates repercussions in the turn of the head, the release of the neck, the direction of the energy lines and importantly what you think about.  It is not to push your other thoughts away, but rather to choose what you attend to and what is just outside your peripheral vision.  The suggestion comes from the eyes but is for the benefit of the mind.

You may find your gaze on the practitioner next to you or at your unmanaged pedicure, but the benefit of a soft single pointed gaze is found not in your capacity to analyze what is in your view.  It is really to use the nature of narrowing your attention to expand the space around the concrete distractions of living a life.  Drishti also refers to your point of view or your cache of wisdom.  There are specific instructions for each asana(pose) as to where to take your gaze, but I like to remember that the life-asana you live in can have your unique drishti.  This refers to how you focus your time and attention as the options and distractions grow out of proportion to your capacity to be all-discerning.  It is true as you tune into one thing, something else falls out of view.  Akin to ripe fruit falling from a tree; if not attended to in time it may fall and become rotten or snatched by another.  Maybe it wasn’t your fruit anyway.  Maybe someone else needed it more.  We need, despite the frustration of it, to learn to focus our attention so that we can have enough of it to make any particular experience meaningful.  To overdue the metaphor, we can look at a tree full of ripe fruit and it is beautiful in its entirety but to benefit from the fruit of it, you need to pick a piece that is ripe for you.  Then the rest is not wasted to you, but is just not for you.

To incorporate that idea in an understanding of the traditional use of the 9 Drishtis of Ashtanga, is to embrace pratyahara, turning inward for self-exploration.  Choosing wisely and choosing certainly without regret.  Among many of the seeming contradictions in yoga is the idea that fixing on a specific outward gaze assists in the practice of turning inward.

The most revered Drishti is to gaze upward to the sky off into the infinite, but throughout history, critical epiphanies and shark tank winners have come from staring directly at the navel for indefinite periods of time.  Take this at face value.


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