Trataka is one of six Kriyas (cleansing techniques) mentioned in the ancient text of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is commonly known as concentrated gazing, steady gazing, or intense concentration and forms a stepping stone between the physical and the spiritual.
Trataka is also a simple but powerful practice of concentration (dharana) which is the first of three stages in our meditation practice. In trataka, an object is gazed at until its subtle form manifests behind the closed eyelids. It can be practiced on several objects, but the most popular and effective is trataka on a flame. The flame produces the best after-image which helps to visualise the flame even when eyes are closed.
Our eyeballs are constantly moving either in large movements or small tremors. Even when asleep, the eyes move in the form of REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The aim of trataka is to still the movement. When the same object is constantly gazed at, the brain becomes accustomed and stops registering the object. Alpha waves are increased which indicates that particular areas of the brain have ceased functioning and concentration is heightened.
During the practice of trataka the breathing must be slow, rhythmic and deep. This will bring steadiness to the breathing process, making the body and mind steady.
At a physical level, trataka strengthens the eye muscles by exercising them to focus upon a fixed point.
Trataka relieves eye ailments such as eye strain and headache, myopia, astigmatism and even early stages of cataract. The eyes become clear and bright. Trataka benefits not only the eyes but a whole range of physiological and mental functions. It is therapeutic in depression, insomnia allergy, anxiety, postural problems, poor concentration and memory. The benefits of a one-pointed mind are strong willpower, improved memory and increased
Epileptics should not practise trataka on a candle flameas a flickering light may trigger a fit. A totally steady object should be used instead such as a pebble or black dot.
- This method of internal cleansing should be carried out with the guidance of a yoga teacher.
- Candle gazing must be with a steady flame, so that it does not flicker and dance.
- The ability to keep the eyes open continually should be developed gradually and without strain.
- This practice clears accumulated complexes, problems and suppressed thoughts from the mind so that one can witness what is emerging. This could be phychologically disturbing if the problems imerge too rapidly. Stop the practice if this is the case.
- A black dot should be used as the focal point, instead of a candle flame if there is eyestrain, myopia, astigmatism and early symptoms of cataract.
- Stick to an object of choice for gazing so that it becomes a familiar practice.
- Gazing at the sun should be avoided because the eye membranes are too delicate.
- Those wearing contact lenses may need to remove them.
"As a lamp in a windless place does not waver, so the transcendentalist, whose mind is controlled, remains always steady in his meditation on the transcendent Self". The Bhagavad Gita
Please come and join us to experience trataka and other forms of meditation and pranayama in the Barn.
Monday morning - 12pm to 1pm
Tuesday evening - 6:45pm to 7:45pm
The Tuesday evening meditation flows into our weekly Kirtan group which you are welcome to join.