I once believed that a “drishti” was an imaginary spot on the horizon – or, in an indoor studio, on the wall – that I should pick at random and look at with utmost ferocity so as not to fall out of complicated balance poses. Like Dancer, that gorgeous silhouette where I hold my leg upward, curving behind me, with one foot planted on the ground as my other hand stretches out toward … well, my drishti.
Since the first time I practiced yoga, in a Caribbean studio above Lalita Juice Bar, I knew that my mat would be my way home. That warm, sunshiney, salt-breeze and banana tree –scented evening was the first time I met Jonathan (later, simply “Jona”), the first time I learned to move with my breath, and the beginning of an intentionally-lived life. I ate a pork chop after practice, much to Jonathan’s shock and horror, and knew I’d be a yogi through the end of my days.
Heartbreaks, mistakes, accomplishments, travels, journeys, love-death-life . . . a journey began on that island, and took me off of it. My demons nearly swallowed my whole. I conquered them. New ones sprang up to take their place. I named them. Sometimes, I wonder if I’ve tamed them.
Now, seven years later, I am taking my next big yoga “hop-or-step forward.” So much has changed. I don’t eat pork chops anymore, for one thing. Jona, my dear friend, mentor, and Guide, has moved on to a nonphysical plane. Instead of sunshiney, open-air studios, I often practice in my own living room as snow falls outside during the long New Hampshire winter. And my eleven-month-old baby Jasper slobbers, crawls, and yanks on my mat as I breathe into my poses.
On my first night of yoga teacher training, I learned that a drishti is actually an energetic, internal focal point. And it’s a specific point. (Technically, there are 9 drishti, but I won’t get into that here.) Sure, it helps with balance. And, in the beginning stages of developing a yoga practice, it may well be an “imaginary dot on the wall.” But really, it is so – SO MUCH – more than that.
Maureen, my yoga-teacher teacher, described finding drishti as “turning your focus inward,” and explained that it’s sort of the same as, or happens during that moment, of BE-ing the pose, rather than doing the pose. When she got into a beautiful Tree – you know, the one where one leg makes a triangle on the other leg and both hands stretch toward the sky – I could feel-see the threads of energy waving around her, shimmering almost, and then they straightened out, taut, vibrating with prana – life force – as she became the pose, for an instant.
My hands heated up, responding to her energy. All of us felt something in that room. One of my fellow yogis, in awe of the transformation that had already begun, exclaimed, “I can’t wait to meet myself in December!” Another described her intention to transform grief into light so that she may “become a beacon for others.”
Magic happens when imagination becomes focused intention, and its power magnifies exponentially when multiplied by two or more people. There are fourteen women starting on this journey with me. That’s a lot of magic.
Drishti isn’t random. It isn’t a desperate, ferocious frown-stare into an imaginary “don’t fall dot.” It’s intention, focused, on purpose, to become that which we were always meant to be. It’s taking that hop-or-step forward, to the front of my mat, and riding the wave of my very own breath as I surrender to those threads of power, confident that their shimmery delicacy is weaving the tapestry of my life. And this time, I am the weaver. I am the thread. I am the breath. I am the Dancer.