What are the best yogic practices for a wandering mind? Luckily, yoga is composed of many methods to help people concentrate. We live in a world saturated by images and where visual stimuli abound. It isn’t easy to keep your mind from wandering in such a climate. There are so many things to distract our minds and thoughts and make us lose focus on things that really and truly matter. Also, apart from that, our mind tends to wander, daydream, get lost in fantasy, fret about the future, relive past moments of happiness, etc.
Is Distraction Harmful?
Although these may not seem harmful enough at first, they are because a wandering mind disconnects us from our body and, therefore, from the present moment. Yoga recognizes this problem, and many yogic relaxation practices and techniques are therefore geared towards helping us retain focus, develop a trained mind and achieve a real communion with our body and true inner self. Yogic techniques can be broadly divided into three practices: asana or postures, pranayama or breathing, and drishti or focusing. These techniques, practiced together, will help one gain vital energy, perfect physical health, and a state of bliss and happiness. Yogic practices in the west generally focus more on postures or asana practices. Still, breathing and focusing are just as important in achieving focus and finding inner peace.
Combination of Methods
It is not even that you practice these techniques in separation. Most yoga items will combine all of these techniques. Yoga is, in fact, a practice of holistic self-care. So, even when practicing certain yogic postures, you must control your breathing properly and focus your gaze so your mind does not wander. Let us, for a moment, look at the importance of proper breathing practices and breath awareness. Generally, as we pass through daily life and activities, we do not tend to think about breathing.
Our body has automatically developed breathing function, meaning we do not need to employ conscious awareness for breathing. However, focusing on breathing helps us connect with the present moment. Breath awareness makes us more conscious of our body, which is also our present, the moment of the now. Becoming conscious of our body is also a way of transcending our ego, which separates us from others and, thus, from ourselves. This also shows how yogic practices are closely related to philosophic thoughts and have emerged out of them.
Breath Awareness Meditation
It is said that the average person has around 6,000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of mental noise. A simple breath awareness meditation can help focus the mind and bring much-needed peace and stillness. To practice this meditation, find a comfortable seat and close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths in and out to relax the body. Once you’re settled, begin observing your breath without trying to control it. Notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your nose or mouth. If your mind starts to wander, that’s okay. Gently bring your attention back to your breath. You may also want to count your inhales and exhales until you reach 10. Then start over again at 1. Continue practicing for 5-10 minutes or longer if you’d like. When you’re finished, sit for a minute and notice how focused your mind feels.
Pranayama For the Wandering Mind
Among the best yogic practices for a wandering mind are a variety of pranayama (yogic breathing) techniques. Pranayama is an ancient yogic practice that means “extension of the life force.” Yogic breathing is a powerful tool to calm the mind and body, and has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety and depression. Pranayama is often practiced while seated in a comfortable position with the spine straight. The breath is slow and steady, and the focus is on the breath itself. The practitioner may use a count or mantra to help keep the mind from wandering. Pranayama can be done for any length of time, but even a few minutes can be effective in reducing stress and promoting relaxation.
Similarly, the practice of drishti or focusing is meant to still our mind and keep it from wandering into distractions. These practices help us attain a perfectly trained mind. So, even when faced with difficulties or tempted by various distractions, we can control our minds and thoughts more effectively and continue focusing on things that matter. Drishti is a Sanskrit word that means “vision” or “sight.” In yoga, drishti refers to the focus of the gaze.
How Does it Work?
The practice of drishti helps to focus the mind by training the eyes to stay fixed on one point. When the eyes constantly move, focusing on anything is difficult. The practice of drishti helps to calm the mind by keeping the eyes still. This allows the mind to focus on one thing at a time and prevents it from wandering. Drishti also helps to improve balance and coordination. When the gaze is fixed on one point, it is easier to maintain balance in the body. The practice of drishti can also help to improve coordination by training the eyes and body to work together.
Science Weighs In
On the scientific base of yogic systems, we may mention how yoga relates to SNS and PNS – the two nervous systems in our body. The SNS, or sympathetic nervous system, quickens our breath rate, increases blood pressure and heart rates, and stimulates our nerves. While this may be necessary for situations of challenge and hardship, unnecessary stimulation, triggered by unproductive stimuli, can result in health consequences such as migraines, ulcers, heart disease, etc. PNS, or parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, reduces blood pressure and slows down breath rate.
Results of Yogic Practice
This means that the blood can freely travel to the glandular, digestive, reproductive, and immune systems – organs essential to long-term good health and well-being. Studies show that yogic relaxation practices such as focusing or deep breathing stimulate PNS actions and thus help attain our mind a stillness and our body its healing powers.
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