Before sitting in any meditation, it is helpful to be physically comfortable. In Tratak, or gazing meditation, you’ll be sitting in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. The item that is your focus point, usually a candle, will be at eye-level and within arm distance. If sitting on the floor, consider using a folded yoga mat, zafu or zabuton for cushioned comfort and set your focus point on a table or chair in front of you at the proper height.
For beginners, start by practicing for 1 or 2 minutes only (set a timer so you won’t need to change your gaze to look at a clock) and then work up to 10 minutes over time.
It also feels very nice after a round of gazing to close your eyes and rub the palms of your hands together rapidly warming the hands. Then place your palms over your eyes and feel the heat radiate around your eyes and face.
During our waking hours, our minds are usually filled with thoughts, good and bad. The mind has a tendency to stay in a state of disturbance and we have a propensity for being distracted easily. This leaves us feeling scattered and fragmented and unable to cope with situations that need focus. We are constantly being bombarded by thoughts and may feel out of control. It comes as no surprise that, with all the thoughts that invade the mind, our minds drift and wander and cannot stay still for longer than a few moments. As a result, we experience stress, memory loss and lack of concentration. We are unable to feel and experience the PRESENT MOMENT.
We can enhance our power of concentration and strengthen our memory by an ancient meditation technique called Tratak. Its benefits bring an end to the mind’s distractions, enhances our ability to concentrate, increases the power of memory and brings the mind into a state of supreme awareness, attention and focus.
WHAT IS TRATAK
Tratak is an ideal meditation technique. With continuous practice, you will witness an increase in your alertness, confidence level, stability in thoughts, and an ability to control situations that were previously difficult. You may also notice an improvement in your eyesight. Tratak is very helpful in improving mental clarity and capacity. People of all ages will benefit, especially students who need to concentrate on their studies. Children in India are started with this meditation technique at an early age, but this method should not be practiced by children that are not supervised. Regular meditation techniques may be difficult to master if you are extremely stressed, worried or agitated. But Tratak is different in that you gaze at a focal point, usually a candle flame, that captures your sight. The eyes control the thought process, and focusing on a candle flame that is steady has tremendous and powerful benefits. Changes in our consciousness level occur through gazing steadily at the glowing flame. To attain a deep state of meditation, the level of energy in the mind must be elevated and single-pointed. Concentration is the first stage of meditation. Tratak induces and magnifies this single pointedness.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The light emitted from a flame is taken in by the eyes and generates energy. The lens of the eye concentrates the light and heat energy of the flame onto the retina, and conducts the light and energy through the optical nerves to the lobes at the rear of the brain. This energy that has entered through the eyes now increases energy in the Pineal gland and increases and improves its function. The Pineal gland is located at the back of the head and feeds on light and heat energy. It is the only gland receptive to light, even though it is encased in bone. The Pineal gland is known as the “Third Eye” and converts light into the electromagnetic energy responsible for the entire body’s glandular system. Flooding the Pineal gland with light stimulates its development and functioning. This allows the opening of the “Third Eye” and the ensuing feeling of bliss.
Hindu scriptures say that the practice of Tratak develops the faculties of greater intuition and that the past, present and future all begin to appear with equal clarity.
Practicing Nadi Sodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) just before gazing at the flame greatly enhances the effectiveness of this meditation technique.
Light a candle or ghee lamp in your meditation room or wherever you are comfortable. Sit in an upright position in a chair, or on the floor cross legged, or in Padmasana (Full Lotus Pose) to ensure that the spine stays erect and that inner energy can flow easily through the subtle channels of the body.
It is recommended that the flame be kept about twelve to twenty-four inches from the face, and at eye level. Begin by taking a few deep breaths. Focus your eyes on the flame and keep your gaze without blinking for as long as you can. You may start to feel tears develop in the eyes. Producing tears is said to have many beneficial effects. Keep your eyes focused. Gaze gently at the flame, not the candle or ghee lamp. Let your vision stay with the flame. If thoughts arise, simply acknowledge them and let them go.
When tears flow, close your eyes. You will see the after-effect of the flame. Keep the eyes closed and see the “flame” glow with closed eyes. Focus on the flame’s “image” with closed eyes and notice how it may be changing. It may glow very brightly and then grow dim, only to glow brightly again. It may change colors and size. Bring your attention to the space between and just above the eyebrows to the Ajna Chakra, the third eye. You may feel deep peace and distance from your body. Allow that feeling to permeate your entire being.
After the flame has diminished from your mind’s eye, slowly open your eyes. Do not look at the flame. It is recommended that you face any direction but south when opening the eyes. It is also recommended that you gaze at the greenery of a living plant or flower for a moment. Since Tratak increases the heat and light energy in the eyes, you may want to use a drop of rosewater (or a similar natural eye drop) in each eye to refresh the eyes. Ideal times for Tratak are sunrise and sunset or the hour midway between sunset and sunrise.
When Pineal function is restored to its peak, the body begins to respond with new balance as nerve energy begins to flow evenly through both halves of the brain, body and spinal cord. The upward rush of energy creates a feeling of bliss. The opening of the Pineal gland takes time and does not happen overnight. Regular and persistent practice of Tratak will bring greater awareness of the visual realm, a relaxed state of mind, enhanced brain wave function, and a deeper knowledge of the Self, all leading to the path to Enlightenment.