Seeing and Being Seen in the Practice

Are you looking?

I’ll brag a little and say that focus during practice is not a problem for me. It’s not a problem, but not for the right reasons. When I first began Ashtanga, it was at the start of the degeneration of my spine: a disk was blown, the lumbar vertebrae had sunk and twisted like a dishrag. For me, at the very start of my practice, it was either focus so hard on the breath I couldn’t feel the pain, or just quit and walk away.

So, I focused. I focused so hard, I sometimes felt invisible to myself. I see nothing that happens in the room around me. This can cause problems in and of itself: I’ve torn, sprained, and tweaked without knowing until I get home. I’m learning with drishti, as with all things, there is more to it than just “focus.”

For our upcoming Sadhana Yatra, one of the readings on our list is Diana L. Eck‘s Darsan. The concept of darshan is relatively new to me–it might be to you as well. Here’s Eck’s definition:

Darsan means ‘seeing.’ In the Hindu ritual tradition it refers especially to religious seeing, or the visual perception of the sacred. When Hindus go to temple, they do not commonly say, ‘I am going to worship,’ but rather, ‘I am going for darsan.‘ They go to ‘see’ the image of the deity.

I’ve been trying to understand this idea, not at an intellectual level, but at the level of immediate apprehension that forbids thought. Eck describes darsan not just as seeing, but as being seen by the diety, as “auspicious sight.”

At the front of the room in Jorgen’s shala, there is an alter. Ganesha keeps watch. There are also images of Hanuman, Krishna, and of course, Guruji. It occurred to me that perhaps my invisibility in the room was no longer serving me, that perhaps it was time to allow perception to happen, to recognize it, apprehend it, and let it go–that perhaps that’s what focus really is: The ability to truly see and be seen.

Posted by Bobbie

Published by


Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

3 thoughts on “Seeing and Being Seen in the Practice”

  1. Hi fellow yogi,

    Do you have a story of healing or transformation through yoga that you’d like to share with the world? The Yoga Diaries is now accepting submissions and we’d love to hear stories from all over the world!

    Please spread the word and help us to spread the light.

    The Yoga Diaries

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s