Inner Drishti

DSC_0386 (2)About five days ago, I woke up with mild vertigo*. I get vertigo occasionally. Sixteen years ago while I was swimming in the ocean, a wave crashed down on my head, and I hit my head on something. Ever since then, I am vulnerable to getting vertigo. A head cold or stress can set it in motion.

If you have ever had vertigo, you know that the room can spin around. It can be scary. When I have dizziness, I use a drishti to anchor my gaze. A drishti is a focal point. I stare at one spot or object. I do not let my eyes off the object or spot. According to Wikipedia, a drishti, or focused gaze, is a means for developing concentrated intention. It relates to the fifth limb of yoga (pratyahara) concerning sense withdrawal, as well as the sixth limb dharana relating to concentration.

When I teach yoga, I instruct my students to use a drishti; especially for balance poses. I say to my students, “Steady eyes…steady pose.” And when I have vertigo, I must use a drishti. It is the only thing that keeps me from spinning around and around.

This past week when I had vertigo, I thought about what if I need to close my eyes. For example, if I am resting or sleeping or even during an emergency situation. So this week I practiced using an inner drishti. And when I did use the inner drishti, I found comfort and stability. I felt like I could manage my vertigo symptoms and it eased my fear of vertigo.

My inner drishti is a red rose. I picture in my mind the beautiful rose, like the photo above. I remember my time walking through the Wilson Rose Garden at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. I steady my eyes on the rose. I can see its delicate petals. I remember its fragrant smell.

I encourage everyone to pick an inner drishti. Practice using it. Maybe when you do the tree pose or some other balance pose, you can close your eyes and practice your inner drishti. Or practice using it before you go to sleep. Pick one image. It must be something beautiful, something you love. It should also be something you can see in nature or real life. Why? Because I think it will connect your brain with a positive memory, and this will trigger a pleasant sensation.

You have a powerful mind. You can use your inner drishti as a tool to calm your mind, increase concentration, and reduce fear.

Namaste, world.

*Suggestions if you have vertigo: get the over-the-counter medication called Bonine, receive physical therapy, wear Sea Bands (acupressure bands).






Tips for Aging Well & Living Longer


Most of my patients are in their late eighties, nineties, and I have one patient who is 101 years old. Some of these patients lived full, healthy lives. How did they age so well? Here are some helpful tips on how to age well and live longer:


  • Strong family support. I love it when my patients have tons of pictures on their walls. People who have strong family support live longer and healthier.
  • Positive attitude. I have one patient who is 94-years-old. She has severe restless leg syndrome. I told her that I’ve experienced restless leg syndrome and that it’s terrible. But she said, “There can be worse things. There’s nothing that I can’t handle.” Wow! What a positive attitude! She chose to reflect strength and perseverance instead of self-pity and negativity. I am so impressed by her!
  • Perseverance. People who search for their own answers persevere. They are strong advocates for themselves.
  • Help people. Some of my dying patients wished that they would have helped people more. Helping others fosters a sense of purpose in life, and this can help us live longer.


  • Exercise (mainly walk, lift weights, and stretch).
  • Put lotion on your feet every night. As we age, our feet become dryer. I had one patient who was in his late eighties, but his feet looked like they were in their thirties. He was a professor and a pastor, and he put lotion on his feet every night. Also, our feet have very important reflexology points. So there’s a double benefit to putting lotion on your feet.
  • Drink a lot of water. As we age, we become less thirsty but our need for hydration increases.
  • Eat well and take vitamins. I have one patient who is 87-years-old, and he took vitamins and herbal medicines his whole life. He told me that he thinks they kept him going all these years.


  • Play an instrument. A lot of my patients who lived a long life played an instrument.
  • Do crossword puzzles or games to stimulate your brain.
  • Do art or crafts. Creativity creates new brain cells.
  • “Go with the flow.” My patient who is 101-years-old goes with the flow. She is patient with life.
  • Share your feelings with someone that you trust. Tension creates high blood pressure and stress. Stress is the leading cause of disease (“dis-ease”). Expressing your feelings relieves tension.
  • Have a sense of humor. Some of my patients laugh at life. They do not take life seriously. Having a sense of humor adds playfulness to life. Playing can help us age well.


  • Most people who live longer have a religion and a faith-based community. I think it’s the community that sustains us. Most of my patients believe in God.
  • Pray or meditate. It is important to trust yourself and trust the divine.
  • See life as an adventure. Make sure that you do all that you want to do in your life. Then when your life comes to an end, you will be ready.

Namaste, world.

Gina M. Gafford is a Certified Massage Therapist (specializing in Hospice Massage), Registered Yoga Teacher, and Amateur Photographer. Gina has her master’s degree in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine University.