Drishtis [Gazing techniques]

 

Introduction

Drishti [Sanskrit दृष्टि] means vision, eyesight, sight, faculty of seeing and seeing. It includes the notions of 'mind's eye', consideration, point of view, or intelligence and wisdom. The use of drishti in asana serves both as a training technique and as a metaphor for focusing consciousness toward a vision of oneness. Drishti organizes our perceptual organisation to recognize and overcome the limits of "normal" vision. Yoga possess numerous gazing techniques, most of them grouped in the Drishti category.

Physiological aspects

These techniques are a precious training since they have health, visual and focusing benefits.

Several research studies suggest that Drishti techniques may have positive influence on the eye, including possible improvements of curtains conditions and delaying of visual degradation processes. See for example Gopinathan et all, A clinical study to evaluate the efficacy of Trataka Yoga Kriya and eye exercises (non-pharmocological methods) in the management of Timira (Ammetropia and Presbyopia). Clinical Research 2012. For further research, see NCBI.

Types

Dakshina. The eyes are turned to the extreme right while gazing along a horizontal straight line going through the level of the eyes.
Ethymology: dakshina [दक्षिन, dakṣina], right, south, related to south
Vama. The eyes are turned to the extreme left while gazing along a horizontal straight line going through the level of the eyes.
Ethymology: vama [वाम, vāma], opposite, actign in the opoosite way or differently, being or situated on the left side.
Bhoochari [nothing-ness gazing]. "Gazing into nothing". The gaze is straight on a point (bindu) in space, following the horizontal line, with eyelids falling dawn.
Ethymology: /
Madhya [mid-brow gazing]. The eyes are straight and turned medially one towards the other.
Ethymology: bhru-madhya-drishti; bhru [भ्रू bhrū], eyebrow and madhya [मध्य center, middle].
Shambhavi [gazing at the eyebrow center]. With half-closed eyes, turn the eyes upwards and inwards towards the space between the eyebrows (ajna chakra). When performed correctly the two curved eyebrows will form a V-shaped image at the root of the nose. Synonym: Brumadhya.
Ethymology: Possibly sambhavi ( sāmbhavī) साम्भवी.; possibility, probability?
Nasagra [nosetip gazing]. Turn the eyes downwards and inwards so they gaze at the tip of the nose. Synonyms: nasikagra drishti or agochari mudra
Ethymology: nasagra (nāsāgra) नासाग्र, tip of the nose; nasikagra (nasikāgra, nāsikāgra) नसिकाग्र, point of the nose; agochari, possibly relatated to agocara अगोचर, inaccessible, imperceptible to the senses.

 

Techniques

Sitting in a classical position with straight spine, the head stays motionless. Breathing is slow and includes the abdominal area. Mantras: in-"So", out-"Ham".

Each exercise is executed for at least one minute and can be repeated two to three times, followed by the other exercises.

Practical example: Tratakam Drishti [Gazing on candle flame]

Tratakam derives from trataka [trāṭaka, त्राटक], a method of fixing the eye on one object. Here the object is a candle. The candle is set up on a support so that it is at the level of the eyes when sitting in a comfortable posture.

The distance between the candle and the eyes is at most 30 cm. Respiration is short and subtle so that it does not disturb the verticality of the flame.

Then, the gaze on the candle is such that the vision of it is doubled and two flames instead of one are seen. This continues until the vision is stable and the two flames remain distinct.

Then, while maintaining the stability of the doubling, one fixes the left flame, while focusing on its brightest part for about two minutes. The exercise is then continued with the right flame.

Then, the focus is brought on the space between the two flames until a third flame is perceived by remanence, alone in the middle, in the space remaining free. Remain focus on this illusion; perceive it with all sense, in silence and immobility.

Then, close the eyes and hold the remanence of the flame in the inner eye, until it vanishes.

Finally, move the prana in the spine, breath in fully and hold at full-lungs. During that retention, open the eyes, spread your hands in front of you, and friction with energy the palms of your hands one with the other to induce warmth. When warmth appears and is at its peak, stop, exhale and bring the palms of the hands softly on each eye, with eyelids closed. Continue breathing gently and perceive the energy at the level of the eyes in the warmth, vibration and rest.

Lastly, assume savasana and integrate the experience.