Trataka is one of the most direct, simple yet at the same time effective meditation techniques. The word trataka means 'steady gazing'. The practice of trataka involves gazing at a point or object without blinking the eyes. It is a method of focussing the eyes and in turn the mind on one point to the exclusion of all others. The object for gaze can be either internal or external. Trataka is described in numerous yogic scriptures, although it is usually known by different names and varies according to traditions.
Methods of trataka meditation practice:
• 1. Outer trataka:This can be practised on almost any object. The most useful purpose of outer trataka, however, is to train the eyes so that they can gaze at an object for a long time without flickering the eyelids, so that one can gain a clear inner after-image for the purpose of inner trataka.
• 2. Outer and inner trataka combined:One first of all gazes at an external point or object for some time, then closes the eyes and gazes at the after-image of the same object. The method of outer and inner trataka combined is especially useful for those people who have great difficulty in creating an innerimage at will, without an external counterpart. Those people who can easily create a steady and distinct inner-image without the assistance of an outer material object can practise inner trataka alone.
• 3. Inner trataka alone:This form of trataka is most conducive to introspection and exploration of the mind, for there is no contact with the outside world as there is with the other two modes. If the mind is disturbed and you practise inner trataka, you will generally find that the ever wandering mind quickly forgets the inner image and becomes sidetracked onto other thoughts. As a result you will fail to gain the most benefits from the practice. Under these conditions it is far better to practise outer trataka or outer trataka combined with inner trataka, for the clarity and more tangible nature of the outer object will be more likely to hold the attention of the mind to the exclusion of other thoughts.
Choice of object for meditation practiceYour choice of object can be almost anything. You must decide what is suitable for yourself. Following are the some objects one can use for this meditation: • A candle flame • Aum symbol • The moon • Nose tip • Eyebrow centre • A cross • A star • Shivalingam • Yantra or mandala • The rising sun (not the midday sun) • A flower - such as a rose or lotus • Black dot on a white sheet of paper
Posture for the trataka meditation practiceTrataka should be practised while sitting in the most comfortable, yet steady position possible. Any sitting position can be taken, even sitting in a chair.
Technique for trataka meditationThe method is divided into two parts: outer trataka on the candle and then inner trataka on the after-image.
Those who wish can merely do outer trataka, while others can do both, one after the other. The choice is yours.
Light the candle and place it on a small bench or table so that the flame is at eye level when you sit on the floor.
Sit on the floor and adjust your position so that the candle is at an arm's length from your eves and directly in front of you. Adjust your position so you are comfortable with the spine erect. Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
Let your entire body become like a statue.
Make the resolve that you will not move your body throughout the whole practice; if you do then you will immediately distract your awareness away from the practice.
Preparation is important, so totally absorb yourself in your body; try to think of nothing else.
When you are ready, open your eyes. Gaze intently at the flame, directing your attention particularly to the top of the wick. Don't look at anything else but the flame and wick. Try not to blink your eyelids or move your eyeballs.
Don't strain the eyes. If you must blink, then blink. With practice you will find that you will be able to gaze without blinking for a long period of time.
The important factor is that you relax your eyes as much as possible; if they are tense then try to relax them. It is tension of the eyes that causes them to flicker.
Many people try too hard not to blink, which creates tension and makes it even more difficult to control this blinking movement. Don't try so hard and you will find that the eyes automatically cease to flicker. Keep your awareness on the candle flame and wick.
Centre your awareness in this way so that you lose awareness of your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the practice in hand.
Initially continue this gazing for about 2 or 3 minutes.
Then close your eyes.
see a clear impression made by the light on the retina of the eye. Likewise, try to visualize the after-image of the candle flame in front of your closed eyes.
If you don't see an after-image don't worry; all that is required is practice; for the meantime, merely try to create and visualize the flame.
Try to be totally aware only of the after-image.
If any psychic visions, extraneous thoughts or other experiences arise, merely act as a witness. Don't react to them in any way; just let them come and watch them with disinterest. Continue in this manner as long as the afterimage is clear.
When the image begins to fade, open your eyes and again gaze at the candle flame and wick.
Focus your awareness on the external flame, nothing else.
Continue this outer gazing for about 2 or 3 minutes, again without blinking or flickering the eyes if possible.
Then once again close the eyes and gaze at the inner image, for as long as it is sharp and distinct.
Continue to repeat inner trataka and outer trataka, one after the other for as long as you have time available.
Then just before you finish close the eyes and watch the dark space in front of your closed eyes.
Watch any activities that may occur there, taking care to remain a witness only, without any involvement.
Be aware of any thoughts that arise.
Practise this for a few minutes.
Then open your eyes and blow out the candle.
Benefits of trataka meditation practice• Trataka develops the power of concentration enormously, which is of immense use in everyday life. • Helps to lead to peace of mind. • Helps to obtain meditational experience and unleashing some of the dormant potential of the mind. • Trataka helps to improve our memory by calming the mind. • Helps to release insomnia and nervous tension. • People with weak eyesight and weak eye muscles will gain much benefit from Trataka.
Keep practising Trataka meditation before going to bed.