Dharana & Dhyana: The Sixth & Seventh Limbs of Yoga

Concentration & Absorption  

Dharana is translated as “concentration/contemplation” or “a maintained and prolonged focused attention on a single point.” The point of focus may be external (as in Asana) or internal (Meditation).  This deep connected concentration dissolved the past and the future and is the expression of presence. Dharana is often described as calling your mind back to be in the present moment.  It is difficult to reel the mind back in, and it takes practice. But those fleeting movements of stillness and ease cultivate Dharana. 

Dhyana is translated as “absorption/meditation” or when Dharana is maintained and the seer and seen are no longer separate.  Dharana, Dhyana, and Pratyahara are deeply connected; as concentration becomes pure and focused, the senses naturally draw inward and disappear into the self, and the lines between outer/inner, seer/object blur.   

In Dhyana, psychological and chronological time come to a standstill as the mind observes it own behavior.  The intensity of attention in the field of consciousness neither alters nor wavers, remaining as stable, smooth, and constant as oil pouring from a jug. Maintaining the same intensity of awareness, the attentive awareness moves form one-pointed concentration to no-pointed attentiveness… in Dhyana the emphasis is on the maintenance of a  steady and profound contemplative observation. - B.K.S. Iyengar