The following is an extract from a page written by my yoga master, Master Mani. I must say that he is the most dedicated and unassuming gentleman that I have known. Only if there are many people who is as selfless and unselfish as him, this world would be such a great place, filled with peace, harmony and joy all round.
This is what Master Mani wrote about the first practice of the Dharana series. “Dharana” means “Meditation”.
Kaya Sthairyam is a practice of concentration on the steadiness of the body. In Sanskrit, the word, “kaya” means “body” and “sthairyam” means “steadiness“. Because of the inter-relation between the body and the mind, when the body becomes steady and still, the mind follows suit. Therefore, each of the body is absolutely steady and immobile should the actual dharana practice begin.
It is also important that the mind remains one-pointed only while the body is still. As soon as any part of the body moves, the mind also moves, Thus, the concentration is broken and once broken, it cannot be attained again in the same sitting. During pratyahara practices, one can move the body. One can shift position, one can even get up and then come back to the practice. In dharana, however, one cannot move a finger, bat an eyelid or even swallow without breaking concentration. Before attempting the practices of dharana, kaya sthairyam must first be mastered. One should be able to sit without moving any part of the body for at least half an hour, then one will be ready to begin the practices o dharana.
In the initial stage of kays sthairyam, the body should be comfortable and relaxed in the meditation posture. Later on, as immobility develops, the physical awareness will gradually subside as awareness of stillness increases. At this time, the concentration is shifted from the body to the natural breath. So that the mind still has focus. Ultimately, the awareness of the breath also subsides so that there is oly awareness. A that time, one is ready to begin dharana.
With awareness, that is steady, still and unhampered by the body, one must begin to concentrate on the object of meditation. If dharana is attempted with an unsteady body and fluctuating mind, no benefits will result from the practice even if one perform it for a hundred years. The only result will be tension, frustration, and a broken mind. Therefore, give one’s attention to the preparatory practices in the beginning. Master Kaya Sthairaym and thereafter, one will be able to proceed with the practices of dharana without obstacles.”