SIXTH LIMB: Dhāraṇā

Updated: Apr 15, 2019


Enso (formally spelled ensō) is a sacred symbol in Zen Buddhism meaning circle, or sometimes, circle of togetherness. It is traditionally drawn using only one brushstroke as a meditative practice in letting go of the mind and allowing the body to create, as the singular brushstroke allows for no modifications. While at first glance, the enso symbol appears no more than a misshapen circle, it symbolizes many things: the beauty in imperfection, the art of letting go of expectations, the circle of life, and connection. The enso is a manifestation of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of our innermost self. It symbolizes strength, elegance, and one-mindedness.

Dhāraṇā may be translated as “holding”, “holding steady”, “concentration” or “single focus”. In this state, you, the subject, are focusing on an object or action.

We learn to bring our attention to one point, and train our minds to stay there. The point of concentration can be external, as in asana, or it can be internal as in meditation. On the mat we experience Dharana quite often, during these moments we lose track of time, when our minds become so absorbed in the physical experience of the posture that we are no longer connected to everyday concerns. In Dharana, the past and the future have dissolved and we are simply existing in the now. In the clarity of a focused mind, we find the timeless place where we connect to spirit. In this sense, Dharana is our pathway to spirit.


From the book “Meditations from the Mat” by Rolf Gates.


Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of Gods will, the moment we begin to see the truth, justice, and love of as the real and internal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surround us.

Right below the surface of life is an ocean of spirit. Dharana penetrates everyday life and brings us in direct contact with this ocean. Whether we are sitting in meditation or working intently in a flower bed, the experience of sustained attention is peace. Freed from a sense-imposed sense of separateness, we experience a visceral sense of belonging in a universe held together by love. Over time, this sense of being in love in a universe of love becomes the rock upon which our spiritual lives are built. It gives us the ability to withstand the rigours of the life we are meant to live. It is the calming abiding centre from which all right action finds its source, and from it springs the acts of loving kindness that define our adult life.


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