Trataka – Steady gazing

Trataka - Steady gazingCandle Gazing

  • Trataka is a wonderful meditation and cleansing technique to help still, center and purify the mind.
  • To put it briefly, trataka it is the Sanskrit word that signifies "steady gazing."
  • In this practice the gaze is fixed on an object for some time and then that object is visualized clearly with the eyes closed, as an inner image.
  • Trataka can be practiced on several objects - a flower, a leaf, a metal object, the moon, just to name a few, my favorite is on a candle flame.
  • This is because the flame is the most capitulating and produces the best after-image.
  • There is two forms of trataka inner and outer gazing.
  • The desired effect is to focus the mind on an object and hold the awareness of that image after the eyes are closed.

The Practice

  • Place a lighted candle an arm's length away at eye level.
  • Sit in a comfortable posture with the spine upright and the arms and shoulders relaxed. You can assume any meditative posture which you can maintain without any movement for the duration of the Trataka practice.
  • Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close the eyes and settle into stillness.
  • When ready, open the eyes and gaze at the top of the wick.
  • Keeping the eyes open consciously relax the eye muscles so there is no strain.
  • Keep your vision focused and steady on the flame without blinking, for as long as it is comfortable to you.
  • If thoughts come up in the mind, just become aware of them and then ignore them. Try to maintain your awareness and focus on the flame.
  • Continue to gaze at the flame until you need to release, then close the eyes and take the awareness to the minds eye and watch.
  • See any lingering effect, perhaps an after-image of the flame, maybe colours, patterns, maybe vastness, just watch.
  • Then when ready, open the eyes again and gaze to the flame.
  • Remain in the practice for as long as desired, to end the practice gradually externalize by noticing the subtle sensations and moving to the more gross sensation. Reconnect to the body and the day, ensure you are fully grounded, alert and aware.
  • Practice palming by rubbing the hands together vigorously to create heat, then place the hands over the closed eyes. Gently massage the eyes, massage the face and release the hands.

Contraindications

  • Eyestrain, astigmatism or early symptoms of cataract, use a black dot instead of a candle flame.
  • Glaucoma

Benefits

  • Cleansing and calms the mind.
  • Rapidly relaxes the entire mind and body.
  • Used to improve the internal and external optic function.
  • Improves the concentration, memory and understanding capacity.
  • Calms one Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally.

Practice note

  • Eyes can be splashed and washed with cold water immediately after the trataka practice to stimulate the blood supply in the eye regions.
  • Start with Trataka lasting for about one minute. Gradually, with regular and systematic practice, the eyes and concentration will strengthen allowing you to increase the duration.
  • If the mind insists on wandering, give the mind permission to flow, watching and digesting without judgment what thoughts transpire. Overtime, the mental practice will improve, thoughts will arise less.