Dhāraṇā (from Sanskrit धारणा dhāraṇā) is translated as 'collection orﾠ concentration of the mind (joined with the retention of breath)', or 'the act of holding, bearing, wearing, supporting, maintaining, retaining, keeping back (alsoﾠ in remembrance), a good memory', or 'firmness, steadfastness, . Sanskrit (sa संस्कृता वाक् saṃskṛtā vāk, for short sa संस्कृतम् saṃskṛtam) is a historical . . , certainty'. This term is related to the verbal root dhri to hold, carry, maintain, resolve.
Dhāraṇā is the sixth stage, step or limb of eight elucidated by Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga or Raja Yoga. Patañjali ( Devanāgarī पतञ्जलि (fl 150 BCE or 2nd c Rāja Yoga ("royal Yoga " "royal union" also known as Classical Yoga or simply Yoga) is one of the six orthodox ( Astika) For a detailed account of the Eight Limbs, refer to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. This is an article about the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali For general information on sutras see Sutra.
Dhāraṇā may be translated as "holding", "holding steady", "concentration" or "single focus". The prior limb Pratyahara invoves withdrawing the senses from external phenomena. Pratyahara is the fifth element among the Eight stages of Patanjali 's Ashtanga Yoga. Dhāraṇā builds further upon this by refining it further to ekagrata or ekagra chitta, that is single-pointed concentration and focus, which is in this context cognate with shamata. Samatha ( Pāli) śamatha ( Sanskrit) or orthographically romanized to shamatha and is often translated as 'Calm Abiding' ( Tibetan Maehle (2006: p. 234) defines Dharana as: "The mind thinks about one object and avoids other thoughts; awareness of the object is still interrupted. "
Dhāraṇā is the initial step of deep concentrative meditation, where the object being focused upon is held in the mind without consciousness wavering from it. The difference between Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna, and Samādhi (the three together constituting Samyama) is that in the former, the object of meditation, the meditator, and the act of meditation itself remain separate. Dhyāna in Hinduism See also Dhyana in Hinduism In Hinduism dhyana is considered to be an instrument to gain self knowledge separating maya from Samadhi ( Sanskrit: sa समाधि is a Hindu and Buddhist technical term that usually denotes higher levels of concentrated meditation or Samyama (from Sanskrit संयम saṃ-yama Combined simultaneous practice of Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna & Samādhi. That is, the meditator or the meditator's meta-awareness is conscious of meditating (that is, is conscious of the act of meditation) on an object, and of his or her own self, which is concentrating on the object. In the subsequent stage of Dhāraṇā, as the meditator becomes more advanced, consciousness of the act of meditation disappears, and only the consciousness of being/existing and the object of concentration exist (in the mind).