Our attention is the most valuable thing we have, and the visible world can be an addictive, over stimulating and spiritually debilitating lure. There are billions of dollars spent in marketing on visual image and the value of our attention. In Yoga, we use drishti (yogic gaze) to redirect our eyes and our focus.
In traditional Ashtanga practice, drishti is an important part of the practice. Our attention follows our eyes. When we intentionally direct our eyes, we also redirect our focus. There are 9 specific drishti points in Ashtanga Yoga. In every asana, the prescribed drishti assists in concentration, aids movement and helps orient the pranic body.
Drishti organizes our perceptual apparatus to recognize and overcome the limits of normal vision. Our eyes can only see objects in front of us that reflect the visible spectrum of light, but yogis seek to view an inner reality not visible to the naked eye. We see what we want to see – a projection of our own limited ideas.
Drishti is a technique for looking for the divine everywhere – thus for seeing correctly the world around us – removing ignorance that obscures this true vision. In candle gazing, eyes are held open until tears form. Not only this gives the eyes a wash, it overrides the unconscious urges – the urge to blink.
In the practice, it is a soft gaze, to send our attention beyond outer appearance to inner essence. By fixing the gaze on an unmoving point, we can assume the characteristics of that point – stable and balanced.
Yogic gaze emerges from an intense desire to achieve the highest goal of united consciousness, rather than from egoistic motives that create separation, limitation, judgment and suffering.