The Magic Of Watching the Container: Dharana

Cynthia told me that she was going out to plant bulbs on a cool November morning. In doing so, she would loosen up the soil, dig holes of a specific depth and space the bulbs an exact distance from one another, careful not to disturb the sleeping perennials. She goes through this time-intensive ritual all to insure a glorious display of tulips, lilies and hyacinths next spring and summer. And although she is a practiced master gardener, there is always an element of fate regarding when the bulbs will bloom and how the garden will look.

Coincidentally my teacher Genny Kapuler has been discussing the Kanda or the bulb buried at the base of the spine where Kundalini sits dormant waiting to be awakened. And I’ve been thinking about the lotus. The lotus also grows from a bulb that sits in the mud between earth and water.

My practice of dharana, or concentration, is a lot like waiting for those bulbs to flower.

Whether I watch my breath or repeat a bija mantra I focus my thoughts on the item that holds the possibility. I attempt to observe it fully in its own right and try not to imagine the result of its opening.

This is difficult, our minds want to follow a story line…will my flower be red or yellow? Will it be fragrant? Will it linger for a week or two or will it be in its full grandeur for only a day?

In practicing dharana, I hold the space for the splendor of dhyana. One can be scrutinized and mulled over. It is singular. The result of this attention is to get to a destination that is diffuse and all encompassing. But, I am not sure how long that will take, what it will feel like or whether it will even happen in this lifetime.

Like many things in yogic philosophy, it requires faith. Not faith in a God or divine intervention but faith in the cyclical nature of all things. That a seed will be planted and if nourished properly and with care it will take a different form. Knowing that it will relinquish itself and the process of planting, cultivating and flourishing will begin all over again.

The potential of your lotus, your Kundalini and your light all lie in the bulb. Watch and wait.

Brette Popper, Brette is the Founder and Publisher of YogaCity NYC

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