This simple technique is an excellent introduction to the Art and science of meditation. People of all ages and stress levels can immediately feel the benefits. Students can use this before studying to improve their concentration.
What is Tratac or candle Gazing Meditation?
It’s secret lies in that you gaze at an object that captures your attention. Perhaps you have had the experience of being totally absorbed , taken out side your self as it were by a magnificent sunset or a full moon, stopped and held in the moment by something of exquisite beauty and in a that moment you enter the timeless, catching a glimpse of eternity.This Candle Gazing technique if practiced regularly can hone and develop your concentration to the ‘enth’ degree.As it brings the mind to a place of stillness,distractions dissolve away, mind becomes focused on the flame. The candle gazing Meditation also improves memory bringing the mind to supreme awareness.
Translating as to gase or look Trataka the concentrated technique of gazing at a candle is a firm favorite of my Yoga students who attend the night classes. I use it as one way to introduce Meditation into the classes. Remember if you are only doing Asana or the physical aspects of yoga you are not experiencing the full magic and richness of the science and Art of yoga.
- Light a candle and place it on a small table around 3 to 4 feet in front of you.
- 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.
- Make sure that the flame is at the level of your eyes. Also, make sure that you are facing the candle directly without having to turn the neck even slightly.
- It is important that the flame remains steady during the concentration routine. So, make sure that there no breeze around of any kind to disturb the flame. If needed, turn off any fans or air conditioner in the room.
- Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close the eyes and watch your breath as you inhale and exhale for about five to seven breaths. This will allow the breath to settle down and bring you into the present moment.
- Now, gaze at the flame intently and keep your gaze on it without getting distracted towards outer disturbances and thoughts.
- Keep your vision focused and steady on the flame without blinking, for as long as it is comfortable to you. Try to avoid any kind of body movement during the entire practice.
- Keep your gaze anchored on some part of the flame, rather than the candle or wick. 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 cannot keep your eyes open and tears start flowing. Once this happens, close your eyes.
- When you close the eyes, you may be able to visualize an after-image of the flame with closed eyes. Try to bring this image at the point between the eyebrows at the center of the forehead (the third eye location).
- The depth and level of your concentration will determine how clear the after-image is. If you cannot visualize the after-image of the flame with closed eyes, or it wavers constantly or looses clarity, then re-apply your concentration to restore the position of the after-image.
- When the image begins to fade out completely, bring your awareness back to your breathing and begin to watch the flow of breath at the tip of the nose for about 7 to 8 breaths.
- You can open your eyes at this point and repeat the full gazing routine as given above one more time.
Benefits of Trataka
Shloka 2.32 of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika states “Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway to these problems”. Some of the benefits associated with Trataka are:
- Improves eyesight and vision.
- Improves concentration, intelligence and memory.
- Excellent method as preparation for mantra meditation.
- Enhances self-confidence, patience and willpower.
- Develops greater work efficiency and productivity.
- Calms the mind and provides inner peace and silence.
- Brings greater clarity in mind and improves decision-making ability.
- Helps to overcome mental, behavioral and emotional ailments.
- Provides stress relief and deep relaxation.
- Deepens the sleep and cures sleep related disorders such as headache, insomnia, nightmares, etc.
- According to Gherand Samhita (shloka 5.54), Trataka promotes clairvoyance or perception of subtle manifestations.
Tips for Trataka Concentration
- Trataka is best practiced on an empty stomach during early-morning hours or late evening hours just before going to bed. If you practice it during the daytime, make sure that the room is dark so that focusing on the flame is easier.
- Try getting a decent sized flame by adjusting the size of the wick. It will help in achieving a better after-image of the flame and it will be easier to visualize it with improved concentration.
- Do not strain your eyes while gazing on the flame. The eyes adjust naturally in due course of time and it becomes easier to concentrate and gaze on the flame for longer periods of time.
- As I mentioned earlier, because Trataka develops deep focus and concentration, it is used as a very effective pre-meditation stage. At the end of the Trataka routine, you may continue with your own mantra meditation.
This technique was used by the ancients priestesses in Egypt, gazing into a bowl of still-water. Other cultures gaze at the full moon.
Two divisions of Trataka are offered Bahiranga outer gazing and Antranga inward gaze.
The technique of outer gazing further develops your spiritual powers.
The physical side effects are an improvement or correction for short sightedness.
It has the wonderful effect of calming your mind, removing anxiety, by bringing a stilling of the mind so that a wondrous relaxation steals over your whole body.
Shanti Gowans in her book ”Calm the Mind ”tells us This training in one pointedness of the mind is the first step in learning not to cling. The goal of meditation is to free awareness from its identification with your senses and thoughts.So freed your awareness, permeates every thing but clings to nothing. Sooo… practice one-pointedness (Trataka gazing)and the exclusion of all other considerations, even when these considerations happen to be enticing.
Shanti also says The eyes are doorways to the mind,and intimately related to it. when the eyes are fixed and unmoving, th e mind also becomes the same and the thinking process automatically ceases as concentration increases and deepens.
How does it work?
Sit with a straight spine, position the candle close to you. ( If you are teaching in a class sit students in a circle around the candle level with their gaze.Students with contact lenses need to close their eyes after about 20 seconds. So a s not to burn the retina through the lens.)
As the candle flame stills so will your breath and mind. Gaze for a few minutes at the flame, at the golden glow above the wick.Rest your eyes on the golden white light,now blow out the flame, close your eyes and await the image that will appear on the inside of your eyelids. do not worry if nothing appears, sit with the no – image, the blank screen of your mind.
We are not all visual people, but practicing this technique will improve that sense.After a while the image will fail.
To lift this technique to another level.
Take your mind back to the time when the candle was newly lit. See it again in your mind’s eye. The candle, the black wick, the brilliant golden white light surrounded by a subtle halo or aura. Picture this halo as expanding, your soft breathing is feeding the expansion so now your point of focus is the candle flame. Hold this until it fades. Slowly come back into the room. Calm and Blessed. Peace.
Have you ever candle gazed? If so, what were your results? Comment below!