Trataka is a Hatha Yoga method to develop concentration. Trataka is a simple, yet powerful practice and is one of the six purification methods or Shatkarmas, taught in Hatha Yoga. The technique has to do with gazing or fixing the eyes on one point, either on an object or on a candle flame.
The practice of Trataka is based on the scientific fact, that the movement of the eyeballs can reflect our thinking process. When we concentrate, our thoughts are focused on a particular subject due to which, the stray thoughts become less or may even vanish. At the same time, the eyeballs become steadier. There is a connection between our eyeball movement and our mental state. This can be easily demonstrated on an EEG machine.
The same principle is used in the practice of Trataka. If we forcefully fix our gaze on a particular point, we can induce a steady concentrated mind. Our thoughts will become less and the turbulent mind can be brought under control.
There are many types of Trataka. Practitioners use many different objects for doing steady gazing. Flame of a candle, a black dot on the wall, the crystal ball, the Shiva Linga, the early morning sun, the full moon, picture of a deity, etc. can be used depending on one’s choice. The most commonly followed technique is gazing on a candle flame.
How to practice Trataka (Fixed Gazing) on a candle flame?
Sit straight in a relaxed way either on the floor or on a chair.
Keep a burning candle at a distance of one or two feet from the eyes.
Use a stand of appropriate height, to make sure the candle is at the same level as the eyes, so that you can gaze straight at the flame without tilting the head upwards or downwards.
Make the body steady and gaze at the bright spot of the flame just above the wick. Avoid looking at the top of the flame as the flame may flicker and you will lose concentration. Look either at the bright red spot just above the wick or the red dot of at the top of the wick itself. That is more likely to be steady than the rest of the flame.
Gaze at the flame without blinking the eyes. With practice, one can go from few seconds to few minutes without blinking. As you practice, you will see that you will be aware of only the flame. Rest of the field, including the body will go into oblivion. You will lose body consciousness and will feel that you are one with the flame.
When the eyes get tired, slowly close the eyes and relax. Sometimes, the eyes may water. Keep it closed till the strain is relieved. When the eyes are closed, try to see the image of the flame in the space in front of the forehead. Witness this internal flame as long as it appears.
Slowly open the eyes. You may blink a few times to relieve any strain.
Repeat this process few times according to your interest.
Benefits of Trataka (Fixed Gazing)
Trataka is good for the eyes. It strengthens the muscles surrounding the eyes and helps to get rid of mild eye problems like short sightedness.
Trataka removes insomnia. Practicing this few minutes before sleep can improve the quality of sleep.
Trataka removes distractions in the mind. It can make the mind calm and steady, thereby increasing the power of concentration.