Dharana is practised for stopping the modifications of the mind.
Concentration is holding the mind to one form or object steadily for a long time.
Kshipta, Mudha, Vikshepa, Ekagra and Niruddha are the five Yogic Bhumikas. The Chitta or mind manifests in five different forms. In the Kshipta state, the rays of the mind are scattered on various objects. It is restless and jumps from one object to another. In the Mudha state, the mind is dull and forgetful. Vikshipta is the gathering mind. It is occasionally steady and at other times distracted. By practice of concentration the mind struggles to gather itself. In the Ekagra state, it is one-pointed. There is only one idea present in the mind. The mind is under control in the Niruddha state.
There is externalising or objectifying power in the mind. This leads to Bahirmukha-Vritti. The mind is drawn towards objects. Through constant Sadhana (spiritual practice) the mind must be checked from externalising. It must be made to move towards Brahman, its original home.
There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point. You are born to concentrate the mind on God after collecting the mental rays that are dissipated on various objects. That is your important duty. You forget the duty on account of Moha for family, children, money, power, position, name and fame.
Mind is compared to quicksilver, because its rays are scattered over various objects. It is compared to a monkey, because it jumps from one object to another. It is compared to moving air, because it is Chanchala. It is compared to a rutting, furious elephant, because of its passionate impetuosity.
Mind is known by the name 'Great Bird,' because it jumps from one object to another just as a bird jumps from one twig to another, from one tree to another. Raja Yoga teaches us how to concentrate the mind and then how to ransack the innermost recesses of our minds.
Concentration is opposed to sensuous desires, bliss to flurry and worry, sustained thinking to perplexity, applied thinking to sloth and torpor, rapture to ill-will.
So long as the thoughts of one are not thoroughly destroyed through persistent practice, he should ever be concentrating his mind on one truth at a time. Through such unremitting practice, one-pointedness will accrue to the mind and instantly all the hosts of thoughts will vanish.
To remove this (tossing and various other obstacles which stand in the way of one-pointedness of mind), the practice of concentration on one thing alone should be made.
Mind is directly or indirectly attached to some pleasing or favourite ideas. When you are in Kashmir, when you are enjoying the picturesque scenery of Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Cheshmashai and Anantanag, your mind will be suddenly upset by shock if you receive a telegram which brings the unhappy tidings of the untimely demise of your only son. The scenery will no longer interest you. You have lost the charm for the scenery. There is ejection of attention. There is depression. It is concentration and attention that gives you pleasure in sight-seeing.
"Having made Atman as the lower Arani (sacrificial wood) and the Pranava as the upper Arani, one should see God in secret through the practice of churning which is Dhyana (meditation)."-Dhyanabindu Upanishad.
Place a picture of Lord Jesus in front of you. Sit in your favourite meditative pose. Concentrate gently with open eyes on the picture till tears trickle down your cheeks. Rotate the mind on the cross on the chest, long hair, beautiful beard, round eyes, and the various other limbs of His body and fine spiritual aura emanating from His head, and so on. Think of His divine attributes such as love, magnanimity, mercy and forbearance.
It is easy to concentrate the mind on external objects. The mind has a natural tendency to go outwards. Desire is a mode of the emotive mind. It has got a power of externalising the mind.
Fix the mind on Atman. Fix the mind on the All-pervading pure Intelligence and Self-luminous effulgence (Svayamjyotis). Stand firm in Brahman. Then you will become "Brahma- Samstha" (established in Brahman).
Practise concentration of mind. Fix the mind on one object, on one idea. Withdraw the mind again and again when it runs away from the Lakshya and fix it there. Do not allow the mind to create hundreds of thought-forms. Introspect and watch the mind carefully. Live alone. Avoid company. Do not mix. This is important. Do not allow the mind to dissipate its energy in vain on vain thoughts, vain worry, vain imagination and vain fear and forebodings. Make it hold on to one thought-form for half an hour by incessant practice. Make the mind to shape itself into one shape and try to keep the shape for hours together through constant and incessant practice.
In trying to concentrate your mind or project a thought even, you will find that you require naturally to form images in your mind. You cannot help it.
Do not wrestle with the mind during meditation. It is a serious mistake. Many neophytes commit this grave error. That is the reason why they get easily tired soon. They get headache and they have to get up very often to pass urine during the course of meditation owing to the irritation set up in the micturition centre in the spinal cord. Sit comfortably in Padma, Siddha, Sukha or Svastika Asana. Keep the head, neck and trunk in one straight line. Relax the muscles, nerves and brain. Calm the objective mind. Close the eyes. Get up at 4 a.m. (Brahma Muhurta). Do not struggle with the mind. Keep it calm and relaxed.
By manipulating the mind you will be able to bring it under your control, make it work as you like and compel it to concentrate its powers as you desire.
In trained Yogis you cannot say where Pratyahara (abstraction) ends and Dharana (concentration) begins, where Dharana ends and Dhyana (meditation) begins, where Dhyana ends and Samadhi (superconscious state) begins. The moment they sit in the Asana, all the processes occur simultaneously with electric or lightning speed, and they enter Samadhi at their conscious will. In the neophytes, Pratyahara first takes place. Then Dharana begins. Then Dhyana slowly commences. Before Samadhi manifests, their minds, getting impatient and tired, drop down. Constant and intense Sadhana with light but nutritious food will bring about sanguine success in getting Samadhi.
Just as a very skilful archer in shooting at a bird is aware of the way in which he takes his steps, holds the bow, the bow-string and the arrow at the time when he pierces the bird, thus "standing in this position, holding thus the bow, thus the bow-string, and thus the arrow, I pierce the bird" and ever afterwards would not fail to fulfil these conditions that he might pierce the bird, even so the aspirant should note the conditions such as suitable food, thus "eating this kind of food, following such a person in such a dwelling in this mode, at this time, I attain to this meditation and Samadhi."
As a clever cook in serving his master, notes the kind of food that his master relishes and henceforward serves it and gets gain, so the aspirant too notes the condition such as nourishment, etc., at the moment of attaining meditation and Samadhi and in fulfilling them gets ecstasy again and again.
A Hatha Yogi tries to concentrate his mind by having his breath controlled through Pranayama, while the Raja Yogi tries to concentrate his mind by Chitta-Vritti-Nirodha (restraining the various modifications of the Chitta) by not allowing the mind to assume various shapes of objects. He does not care for control of breath. But his breath becomes necessarily controlled when his mind is controlled. Hatha Yoga is a branch of Raja Yoga.
Worldly pleasures intensify the desire for enjoying greater pleasures. Hence the mind of worldlings is very restless. There is no satisfaction and mental peace. Mind can never be satisfied, whatever amount of pleasure you may store up for it. The more it enjoys the pleasures, the more it wants them. So people are exceedingly troubled and bothered by their own minds. They are tired of their minds. Hence in order to remove these botherations and troubles the Rishis thought it best to deprive the mind of all sensual pleasures. When the mind has been concentrated or made extinct, it cannot pinch one to seek for further pleasure, and all botherations and troubles are removed for ever and the person attains real peace.
The rays of the mind are scattered in the case of worldly-minded persons. There is dissipation of mental energy in various directions. For purpose of concentration, these scattered rays have to be gathered by Vairagya and Abhyasa, and then the mind must be turned towards God.
The powers of the mind are like rays of light dissipated. The rays of the mind are drawn towards various objects. You will have to gather them patiently through Vairagya and Abhyasa, through Tyaga (renunciation) and Tapas and then march boldly with indefatigable energy towards God or Brahman. When the mental rays are concentrated, illumination begins.
Remove the Rajas and Tamas that envelop the Sattva of the mind by Pranayama, Japa, Vichara and Bhakti. Then the mind becomes fit for concentration.
Know that you are progressing in Yoga and that the Sattva is increasing when you are always cheerful, when the mind is even and concentrated.