Trataka in Sanskrit means to “look or gaze”. In Hathaa yoga we use it as a crea to cleanse and strengthen the eyes and it is a meditation which involves staring at a single point such as a flower, black dot or a candle flame. It is said to activate the energy of the “third eye” and increase your intuition, improve memory and concentration.
It is a practice used to concentrate the mind on one visual point which then activates the energy level of the brain. Your attention is focussed internally whilst staring externally at a candle flame or a dot. When this happens the energy of the body moves upwards into the brain, this allows the mind to empty itself of all thoughts and feelings apart from those which may arise spontaneously in the moment.
BENEFITS OF TRATAKA
Trataka is brillant for the eyes as it helps to strengthen the muscles surrounding the eyes and alleviates mild eye problems. It helps to mitigate insomnia and it helps to greatly improve your mental and nervous stability. It allows your breathing to slow which also affects your heart rate. Tearing clears the frontal lobe of the brain of the chemicals responsible for negative feelings. It also enhances concentration by removing distractions. It allows you to feel energised, motivated and reinvigorated.
It also feeds your pineal gland with light and heat energy. The pineal gland is situated at the back of the head behind your eyes and it is the only one of your body’s glands which is receptive to light. The pineal gland is often referred to as the “Third Eye”.
The more you calm your mind by gazing at the candle, the greater the sense of peace you will feel in your everyday life. The greater the sense of peace you feel, the more ease you will experience in any situation that may arise, so Trataka strengthens you from the inside, helping you to overcome any situation in your life.
We have all done Trataka even if you didn’t realise this was what you were doing. Have you ever sat in front of an open fire and just let yourself gaze into the fire? That is Trataka.
I personally love this form of meditation. It allows me to focus all of my attention on the candle flame as I do so, everything and everyone fades away into the distance. This allows me to travel deeply into the meditation.
HOW DO YOU CANDLE GAZE?
It is best to do this meditation either early morning or late in the evening. If the light is too bright outside I would suggest closing curtains to help darken the room.
Remove all distractions, phones, TV’s etc., turned off.
Wrap yourself in a shawl or a blanket to keep yourself warm or ensure that the room you are in is warm and ventilated.
Keep the candle you are gazing upon at eye level about a foot / foot and a half away from you. Ensure it is not close to anything flammable and remember to extinguish the flame when you have completed the meditation.
Allow yourself to come into a comfortable seated position either in a chair or on the floor, please place a cushion or bolster beneath you for comfort especially if the floor is your chosen seated position. You need to be able to sit comfortable for a number of minutes with your spine nice and elongated. Do not allow your head to fall forward, keep your ears aligned over your shoulders where possible.
When you are ready to begin take a couple of deep breaths and sigh out the exhale. Allow yourself to feel your support beneath you whether it is a chair, cushion or the floor.
Gently let your gaze land softly on the flame. Notice the colours you can see within the flame, the light and the shadows. Notice how the light is brightest just down from the tip of the flame. Notice how it moves, dances, expands and contracts. Allow your breathing to flow freely.
Try not to blink whilst you are allowing your gaze to linger on the flame. Tears may come, let them and allow them to fall, they are cleansing out your eyes. Continue to hold your gaze without straining. If you blink, just allow your attention to return back to the flame. Observe the fire of the flame, the intensity, the energy. Know that this light exists deep within you also. Give it the freedom to shine brightly.
When tears fall from both eyes, gently close your eyes and turn them upwards to the centre of your forehead just above your eyebrows, the third eye. You will see the image of the flame where you place your attention here. Keep your eyes closed for as long as the image exists. Open your eyes when it fades and allow yourself to lay down into savasana. Let your body relax for a couple of minutes.
A candle flame shines light into the dark and that light shines outwards from the centre of the flame. This power and clarity exists within you also. Find your centre allow your light to shine and let it bring clarity and peace to your current situation.
Namaste and Om shanti