Drishti: Readings

Drishti Has Little To Do with Physical Sight

Drishti is a point of gaze or focus, yet it has little to do with our physical sight. The real “looking” is directed internally. We may fix our physical sight upon an external object or a specific point on our body, yet truly the drishti is meant to direct our attention to the subtle aspects of our practice… The drishti is a device designed to balance our internal and external practice. – David Swenson

No Yoga is Happening

I remember being in the yoga shala in Mysore and allowing my mind to wander so I could see what was going on around me. I was interested in what my teacher was doing with other students, what poses other students were doing at different levels of proficiency, what kind of clothes people were wearing, what type of yoga mats were most popular, and who was waiting in line to practice next. I focused least on the inner body. It was the epitome of an untrained mind… It took me at least four trips to India before I really understood that no drishti means a weak mind, and a weak mind means no yoga is happening. – Kino MacGregor

As Gaze Becomes One-Pointed

Soon you’ll discover that there are a variety of sensory impressions—the quality of the stretch, the strength or weakness of the muscles involved, the quality of your postural alignment, the sense of spaciousness within the body—that you may not have otherwise noticed. All of these sensations emerge as your gaze becomes one-pointed. Gradually you’ll begin to witness the dialogue of your mind—simply watching distracting thoughts as they come and go—as you begin to settle into a peaceful meditative version of the pose. Now that’s what you came to class for, isn’t it? – Jennifer Allen Logosso 

Energy Follows the Gaze of the Eyes

Drishti directs the flow of energy (prana) through the body during asana and activates different areas of the brain during meditation. The yogis realized that energy follows the gaze of the eyes. That was one reason the eyes are closed in meditation and pranayama—to re-direct the outward moving energy of the eyes internally. When it is necessary to keep the eyes open, as during the practice of asana, there is a recommended drishti or gaze for every posture… The different positions of the eyes… create a pressure with the optic nerve that affects different areas of the brain. For example, gazing at the chin area affects the emotional area of the brain while focusing at the brow point stimulates intuition.  Mehtab 

Practice Asana Blindfolded

To realize how much of our energy is taken up by our eyes and the visual world, it can be interesting to experiment and perform some strenuous asanas with a blindfold. Without any visual information to process, our eyes “relax,” thus releasing energy that then becomes available to the posture. – Christina Brown

Instinctual Looking vs Peaceful Seeing

If you have ever practiced next to someone who is not practicing drishti correctly, it can often interfere with your own practice. You become aware of them [observing] who just came in, where the teacher is, something out the window, or (worst case) at you. It’s a human thing. They are looking, and like a meerkat, you have to look, too… There goes your focus, and your system’s all in an uproar: Where’s the emergency? What are we looking for? Where’s the lion? But when drishti is plugged in, and the whole room is invisible, that’s when Ashtanga happens. Nothing stands out, nothing is thought, and there is peace. Drishti works because it presents us with the opportunity to overcome what we see, and see everything. – The Confluence Countdown

David Life on Drishti as a Technique for Removing Ignorance

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 normally visible. We become aware of how our brains only let us see what we want to see—a projection of our own limited ideas… Drishti is a technique for looking for the Divine everywhere—and thus for seeing correctly the world around us. Used in this way, drishti becomes a technique for removing the ignorance that obscures this true vision, a technique that allows us to see God in everything… The bhakti yogi uses drishti in a slightly different way, constantly turning a loving, longing gaze toward God. Through imagination the vision of the Divine appears in the form of Krishna, and the whole world becomes prasad (holy nourishment). In both cases, drishti provides a kind of enhanced yogic vision that allows us to see past outer differences (asat, in Sanskrit) to inner essence or Truth (sat). – David Life