What is Drishti? Using your eyes to direct your energy and mental focus.

What is Drishti?  Using your eyes to direct your energy and mental focus.

In yoga practice, we often use our eyes to focus on a particular point in order to create stillness and balance in the mind and the body.  Drishti is a Sanskrit word for sight, a gaze, aim, or attention.   We use our eyes to find our drishti in order to focus the mind.  Each and every time you can hold your focus on a particular point you are cultivating a deep level of concentration.  This is a skill that we can strengthen to help us not only in yoga but in any athletic endeavor, relationship (think eye contact in a conversation), or to tune into ourselves to view our experiences from our own truth and wisdom.   Personally, I am most drawn to people who can maintain eye contact in a conversation without getting distracted by other things going on.  It makes me feel more connected and trusting in them. 

I typically cue my students to find their drishti when a yoga pose requires them to find greater balance.  For example, Tree pose and Warrior 2 are enhanced when we can steady the mind and feel grounded on the mat.  There is immediate feedback of an overactive and distracted mind if we lose our balance easily in our poses.  The eyes are most likely darting around to other things outside of inner body awareness. Our eyes are a window to what is happening in the mind.

Drishti transcends what’s seen of the outside world, to illuminate the world within.    Insight Timer Blog

Creating a focal point draws us into the moment, calming the mind’s tendency to be scattered.   Drishti tunes out external distractions and intentionally directs our energy to what matters.  Think of a tight rope walker or a ballerina turning in a pirouette.  Their gaze is crucial to the outcome of their performance.   When I am mountain biking, it’s so important to hold my drishti on the path a few feet in front of where I want my bike to go and NOT on the obstacles along the sides.  Where your gaze goes is where your tire will go so I prefer not to look at the tree I am trying to avoid. 😉  

I used the concept of Drishti recently when teaching mental skills to a tennis team in order to enhance their level of concentration and intentionally direct attention on each shot.  After all, if your eyes are all over the place when playing tennis, it is very difficult to focus on the ball and place it where you would like it to go! 

A full mind is an empty racquet, an empty club, lacrosse stick…you fill in your sport here. 

If your mind is concerned about who is watching you play, trying to avoid an obstacle or opponent, or focused on the outcome of the game, this means your concentration is clouded with distractions.  In golf, if your trying to avoid the water obstacle and this is what you’re looking at, guess what, you will probably hit right at the water! Where do you want the ball to go? Your eyes will lead the way.   Drishti creates a clear view of your target by shifting the energy away from what is outside of your control to the inner strength and wisdom that is within.  The mind is then focused and directed toward powerful and positive results. 

Drishti is yet another useful tool to stay centered and grounded when life draws us off-kilter.  In a world filled with mixed messages and infinite amounts of commotion, our inner knowing, and guidance are our north star. 

The world is as we see it so finding stillness and clarity in the mind allows us to move through it with greater ease and wonderful outcomes.