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Swami Sivananda maharaj-Concentration explained(wonderfully)

Yogasara-Upanishad Mantra - 11 (continued)

Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external.
Notes and Commentary
When hatha yogis concentrate their minds on the six supports (the sad-chakras), they concentrate their minds on the respective presiding deities also, viz., Ganesha, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra Ishvara and Sadashiva. Control the breath through pranayama. Subdue the senses through pratyahara. And then fix the mind either on a form or the formless Brahman. According to hatha yogic school, a yogi who can suspend his breath by kumbhak for 20 minutes can have very good dharana. He will have a very tranquil mind. Pranayama steadies the mind, removes vikshepa (distraction) and increases the power of concentration. Those who practise khecari mudra by cutting the frenum lingue and lengthening the tongue and fixing it in the hole in the palate by taking upwards will have good dharana.
Those who practise concentration evolve quickly. They can do any work with scientific accuracy and great efficiency. What others do in six hours can be done by one who has concentration within half an hour. What others can read in six hours, can be read by one who does concentration within half an hour. Concentration purifies and calms the surging emotions, strengthens the current of thought and clarifies the ideas. Concentration helps a man in his material progress also. He will turn out a very good amount of work in his office or business house. What was cloudy and hazy before becomes clear and definite. What was difficult before becomes easy now and what was complex, bewildering and confusing before comes easily within the mental grasp. You can achieve anything through concentration. Nothing is impossible for a man who practises regular concentration. It is very difficult to practise concentration when one is hungry and when one is suffering from an acute disease. He who practises concentration will possess very good health and very clear mental vision.
If you read with concentration the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana or the eleventh skanda of Bhagavatam several times, you will get new ideas each time. Through concentration you will get penetrative insight. Subtle, esoteric meanings will flash out in the field of mental consciousness. You will understand inner depths of philosophical significance. When you concentrate on any object do not wrestle with the mind. Avoid tension anywhere in the body or mind. Think gently of the object in a continuous manner. Do not allow the mind to wander away.
Dharana (concentration) is fixing the mind on an idea or a point or object either internal or external.
Notes and Commentary
Retire into a quiet room; sit on padmasana. Close your eyes. See what happens when you concentrate on an apple. You may think of its colour, shape, size and its different parts such as skin, pulp, seeds, etc. You may think of the places (Australia or Kashmir) wherefrom it is imported. You may think of its acidic or sweet taste and its effects on the digestive system and blood. Through law of association ideas of some other fruits also may try to enter. The mind may entertain some other extraneous ideas. It may begin to wander about. It may think of meeting a friend at the railway station at 4 p.m. It may think of purchasing a towel or a tin of tea and biscuits. It may ponder over some unpleasant happening that occurred the previous day. You must try to have a definite line of thought. There must not be any break in the line of thinking. You must not allow other thoughts which are not connected with the object on hand to enter. You will have to struggle hard to get success in this direction. The mind will try its level best to run in the old grooves and to take its old familiar road or old beaten path. The attempt is somewhat like going uphill. You will rejoice when you get even some success in concentration. Just as law of gravitation, cohesion, etc., operate in the physical plane, so also definite laws of thought such as law of association, law of relativity, law of continuity, etc., operate in the mental plane or thought-world. Those who practise concentration should thoroughly understand these laws. When the mind thinks of an object, it may think of its qualities and its parts also. When it thinks of a cause, it may think of its effects also.
If emotions disturb you during concentration, do not mind them. They will pass away soon. If you try to drive them, you will have to tax your will-force. Have an indifferent attitude. The vedantin uses the formulae: "I don't care. Get out. I am a sakshi (witness of the mental modifications)" to drive the emotions. The devotee simply prays and help comes from God.
Train the mind in concentration on various subjects, gross and subtle, and of various sizes, small, medium, and big. In course of time a firm habit of concentration will be formed. The moment you sit for concentration the mood will come at once quite easily. When you read a book, you must read it with concentration. There is no use skipping over the pages in a hurried manner. Read one page in the Gita. Close the book. Concentrate on what you have read. Find out parallel lines in Mahabharata, Upanishads and Bhagavatam. Compare and contrast.

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