Trataka or Gazing Meditation is a cleansing technique taught in hatha yoga, and is traditionally considered ‘dharana’, the fixing of one’s mind on a single point; it’s used as a preparation for meditation. It’s best to do it in the early morning or late evening before bed. Use a good-size flame and do not strain your eyes while gazing. In the beginning your eyes may begin to water after just a couple minutes, but with practice you will be able to gaze for longer periods of time. Set the intention not to blink, but don’t worry if it happens. Eventually, it will settle down. Beginners should only gaze for 1-2 minutes and for general use 5-10 minutes is sufficient. Follow the steps below to practice Trataka.
1. Light a candle and place it 2 to 3 feet in front of you with the flame at eye-level. The flame needs to remain steady, so ensure the room is free from any breezes.
2. Sit in a comfortable position facing the candle. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself and come into the present moment.
3. Focus your eyes on the flame (not on the candle or the wick) and keep a gentle gaze without blinking for as long as you can. Do your best not to move your body during this time. If thoughts arise in the mind, try your best to just be aware of them and then let them go or ignore them. Try to keep your awareness and focus on the flame.
4. When you aren’t able to keep your eyes open and tears flow, close your eyes. With your eyes closed you will see the after-effect of the flame. Keep the eyes closed and just focus on the internal “flame”.
5. After the flame has faded from your mind’s eye, bring your awareness back to your breath. Then slowly open your eyes and repeat the full gazing routine above two or three more times.
Benefits: Practicing trataka may cleanse tear ducts, improve vision, concentration, memory and will power. It can enhance self-confidence, increase intuitive capabilities, and stabilize thoughts. It’s also said to ease tension, relieve stress and deepen sleep, and may also help reduce anxiety and depression.
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