Trataka & MeditationTechniques ·
Trataka means to look or to gaze. Trataka is one of the Shatkarma, a block of yoga techniques focused on purifying the body. Other techniques in this set include neti, sutra neti, shankhaprakshalana, agnisar kriya, kunjal kriya, vastra dhauti and others.
Trataka involves gazing at any personal object of choice or a candle flame without blinking yards. The aim is to focus the mind and curb it’s scattering tendencies, making it singularly pointed and awakening inner vision. All the attention power of the mind is channeled into one continuous stream. This should be an effortless process without strain. Once this has been achieved the latent potential within the mind is able to emerge spontaneously.
Once you have chosen your focal device, it is important you do not change it. For this article I will focus on using a candle to illustrate the practice.
Light a candle and place it on a small table so that the flame is exactly at eye level when sitting comfortably in meditation posture. Make sure your spine and head are erect.
Make sure that the candle is at arm’s-length away from the body. Close your eyes and relax the whole body, especially the eyes. Do this for a few minutes and then keeping the body absolutely still throughout the practice, open your eyes and gaze steadily at the tip of the wick (not the tip of the flame).
The flame may flicker slightly but the tip of the wick is always steady. Try not to blink or move your eyeballs in anyway. Do not strain your eyes as this will cause tension. Awareness should not be completely centered on the wick so that your body awareness becomes lost. Instead be aware of yourself, your mind, as well as the wick. If your mind begins to wander, gently bring it back to your gaze on the wick.
After vision seeing
After a minute or two as a beginner, when the eyes become tired, they may begin to water, close them gently. Observe the after image of the flame in the space behind your closed eyes. When the image can no longer be observed gently open the eyes and resume your gaze at the tip of the wick once more.
Repeat the candle gazing procedure. Close the eyes once more and observe the image. Do this three or four times after completing the final round. Practice palming (cupping your hands over your eyes, blocking out all light) for a couple of minutes before opening your eyes. This completes the practice. Engage your normal meditation practice after.
Length of time
Beginners should gaze for one or two minutes to get used to it. After a while you can build it up to 10-15 minutes. This will have an effect on your spiritual vision, assist with general health or potentially rectify eye defects. Having a therapist or teacher on hand would be useful if you want to extend Trataka for longer periods of time. Doing trataka 10-15 minutes before going to sleep at night is said to assist people suffering from insomnia and mental tension.
Trataka is also an excellent method for cleansing energies, problems and suppressed thoughts from the mind and body. This process enables the meditator to witness what is surfacing. It is also possible that these problems may manifest quickly which may feel a little cathartic. If this occurs you can use the process to transform or if too cathartic, stop the practice and seek advice from someone experienced with yogic practices and emotions coming to the surface.
Epileptics should not practice trataka on a candle flame but choose a steady object to gaze at.
Trataka must be practiced on a steady flame so there should be no draft in the vicinity. Always avoid any eye strain. The ability to keep the eyes open without blinking should be developed gradually with consistent practice.
It is said that when doing trataka your eyes may shed tears which also include toxins being excreted. You should let this process happen.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati: Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha Dr. Sagan, Samuel: Awakening the Third Eye