The eyes are the windows to the brain is a very profound statement that was once made by Guruji Iyengar. This one statement opened my eyes to the way I looked at my own self as well as the world.
We generally associate our eyes with the ability to see the outside world. But, we rarely realize that a lot can be perceived about ourselves through our eyes. An emotional turmoil or anger is easily communicated through our eyes. Calmness and tranquility in the hearts and minds of evolved beings is also expressed through their eyes.
A stern glance by the mother can stop the child from mischief. Eyes indeed do communicate much more than words! The eyes see what is happening around us as well as let others perceive what is happening within us. But the eyes are much more that a two-way doorway of communication.
It is through the eyes that we can control the brain and enhance our powers of concentration. As the eyes express our emotions and state of the brain, we can even ‘alter’ the state of the brain and the emotions through the medium of the eyes. Parents and teachers are working hard to get children to concentrate on their studies. But, it is not always possible to get the child to concentrate.
The child can sit in front of a book for hours but nothing may be observed by the child. ON the other hand, he can be focused and study the same thing in a span of few minutes. Always remember that when the eyes are focused, then the brain is also focused.
Various asanas teach us the art of focusing the eyes and through that the brain. Take the example of Vrikshasana or Virabhadrasana III. Both these asanas involve balacing the body on one leg. If the eyes wander then the individual finds it very difficult to balance in this asasna. He can learn to balance for longer durations of time by keeping the eyes focused at one point.
Developing this ability to focus the eyes through the practice of asnas, teaches one how to converge ones attention to a point. Then, one learns the art of living in the present and not reminiscing about the past or dreaming of the future. Philosophers talk about living in the present but we need to learn the methodology of living in the present. As Guruji says Yoga teaches us to live in the moment and not in the movement of the moment.
Gradually, as the art of focusing is learnt, one naturally becomes more efficient in one’s work and children in their studies. Thus, the quality of learning to focus on the task at hand can be cultivated with the regular practice of yoga.
Concentration (dharana) is also an integral part of ashtanga yoga. Sage Patanjali satates desa bandha chittasya dharana which means that concentration is the fixing of attention on one point or region within the body or outside the body. Asana practice teches us to fix our attention to a point.
One is to develop the art of focusing through the medium of the eyes as described earlier. Secondly, the power of concentration can be developed with the ability to perceive and observe carefully. All and sundry can observe gross things but it requires a special faculty to observe the subtle. This faculty can be cultivated. For example, while practicing even a simple sasana like Tadasana, we need to observe how the feet are placed. Are both the feet kept in line? Is the touch ob both the feet uniform on the floor? If so, is the contact of the inner and outer edges of the feet uniform?
IS the weight of the body distributed uniformly on the entire foot? Mist often, one tends to be more on the frontal part of the foot and the frontal part of the thigh. Such observations develop the power of focus. These observations should be reflected and then acted upon. If we observe that the weight is not uniformly distributed on the front and the back of the foot in the simplest of asana, Tadasana, then one needs to act to get it uniformly distributed.