The practice of Drishti is a gazing technique that develops concentration—and teaches you to see the world as it really is. We are predominantly visual Beings and where our eyes are directed, our attention follows. Our attention is the most valuable thing we have, and the visible world can be an addictive, overstimulating, and spiritually debilitating lure.
When we get caught up in the outer appearance of things, our prana (life force energy) flows out of us as we scan the stimulating sights. Allowing the eyes to wander creates distractions that lead us further away from a state of clarity and focus. To counteract these habits, the redirection and stabilization of our attention is one of the fundamental principles in yoga practice. When we collect and redirect the focus, first of the eyes and then of the attention, we are using the yogic technique called Drishti.
On a simple level, the implementation of the Drishti practice uses a specific gazing direction for the eyes to control attention. In every asana, the prescribed Drishti assists concentration, aids movement, and helps orient the pranic (energetic) body. The practice of softly in yet intently gazing at one point can be employed at any point in your Asana practice: In Upward-Facing Dog pose, for instance, we gaze at the nose tip: Nasagrai Drishti. In meditation and in Fish Pose, we gaze toward the Ajna Chakra, the third eye Drishti, and in Warrior 1 pose, we use Urdhva Drishti, gazing up to infinity.
The full meaning of Drishti isn't limited to its value in yoga’s physical postures In Sanskrit, Drishti can also mean a vision, a point of view, or intelligence and wisdom. The use of Drishti in asana serves both as a training technique and as a metaphor for focusing consciousness toward a vision of oneness. Drishti organizes our perceptual apparatus to recognize and overcome the limits of "normal" vision. Our eyes can only see objects in front of us that reflect the visible spectrum of light, but yogis seek to view an inner reality not normally visible.
We become aware of how our brains only let us see what we want to see—a projection of our own limited ideas. Often our opinions, prejudices, and habits prevent us from seeing unity. Drishti is a technique for looking for the Divine everywhere—and thus for seeing correctly the world around us. Used in this way, Drishti becomes a technique for removing the ignorance that obscures this true vision, a technique that allows us to see God in everything.
Like all yogic practices, Drishti uses the blessed gifts of a human body and mind as a starting place for connecting to our full potential—the wellspring that is the source of both body and mind. When we clear our vision of the covering of habits, opinions, ideas, and their projections about what is real and what is false, we gaze beyond outer differences toward the absolute Truth.