The first stage of meditation is concentration, or ‘dharana’. One of the most direct, simple and effective methods of establishing concentration is Trataka (‘steady gazing’).
Trataka involves focussing the eyes (and in turn the mind) on one point. Steadiness of the gaze is directly related to steadiness and concentration of mind and by steadying the eyes you are automatically relaxing and concentrating the mind.
Benefits of Trataka
- Trataka is an excellent practice for relieving anxiety, mental tension and depression.
- It is very effective for insomnia. For dealing with insomnia practice trataka for 10 – 15 minutes just before going to sleep.
- Peace of mind. Trataka steadies the mind, calming the ups & downs, moods and fluctuations of the mind.
- Improves memory & concentration.
- People with weak eyesight and eye muscles will benefit from regular practice of trataka.
How to Practice Trataka
- Place the object at eye level, arm’s length away from you.
- Close the eyes and sit comfortably; practice Kaya Sthairyam (Body Stillness).
- Open the eyes and gaze steadily at the object – if using a candle, gaze at the tip of the
- Relax the eyes as much as possible. Try to keep the eyes open but if you need to blink then do so.
- After a minute or two close the eyes and gaze at the after image in the space front of the closed eyes. Keep it steady.
- If there is no an after image try to visualise the object in front of the closed eyes.
- When the after image begins to fade bring it back.
- When the image has disappeared completely open your eyes and repeat the
Glasses & Contact Lenses
- If possible do not wear glasses or contact lenses with Trataka. But if you need them to see the object clearly then you should do so.
- There should be no double vision and no blurring of the
- If you wear contact lenses with trataka you will need to blink during the practice so that the lenses do not dry out.
- For epilepsy do not practice trataka on a candle flame; instead choose a totally steady object or image to gaze at.
- In cases of eyestrain, myopia and astigmatism a black dot or similar can be used instead of a candle flame.
Objects of Trataka
- The object you gaze at can be almost anything; for example, you can use a candle flame, a black dot on white paper, a symbol, a star, a rock in a river, a flower etc.
- A candle flame is an excellent object for trataka. It has an almost magnetic effect on the eyes and produces a clear after image for Inner Trataka.
- You will make the best progress if you use the same object for trataka every time you practice.
Duration & Time of Practice
- To gain noticeable benefits practice for 10 minutes or more every day.
- You can practice at any time, but first thing in the morning and last thing at night are best.
- For the best results practice every day for a set period of time, up to a maximum of 2 months.
Trataka can be seen as a stepping stone between Hatha Yoga (physically orientated practices) and Raja Yoga (the mental practices which lead to higher awareness).
It is also a simple but very effective technique for relaxation and for calming and steadying the mind.
If we use trataka as a sadhana and practice regularly and consistently it can have a profound effect on our lives.
Trataka is an excellent method for clearing accumulated complexes, problems and supressed thoughts from the mind, enabling the practitioner to witness what is surfacing.
It is possible for these problems to manifest too quickly and be disturbing. If this happens stop the practice and consult your Yoga teacher.
from General, posted December 2015