• 04/06/2022

What is Trataka Meditation?


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There are so many methods of meditation, and Trataka meditation is among them. Even though you might have an image in your mind of what meditation is, there are so many ways to meditate. You can try all the different types to see what works best for you. Of course, everyone is different, and no two meditation practices will be completely the same. If you want more out of your meditation practice, here are a few things to know about Trataka meditation.

What Does Trataka Mean?

The practice of Trataka meditation involves focusing on one specific object or focus point rather than an internal idea. Many people use it as a purification or focus technique, especially in the context of yogic meditation. It’s mostly about connecting to the focus within you and working on the feeling of stillness. The translation of the word itself means to look or gaze, so you can take it fairly literally. 

The Origin

The origins of Trataka meditation can be traced back to yogic and tantric philosophy. The use of a single fixed point or small object is often found in tantric meditation and texts, while the practice is often incorporated into yogic practices as well. The name of Trataka meditation comes from the Sanskrit. Therefore, it has its place both with yogic and tantric philosophy. 

What Is Trataka Meditation?

Tratak is one of the six purification methods or shatkarmas of Hatha yoga. During ancient times, people believed that one must undergo a purification process before practicing yoga to free the mind from disturbances. An example is pouring saline water into the left nostril and removing it from the right nostril. 

One of the less intimidating methods is Trataka, which involves fixing the vision on a particular object, like a candle, a black dot on a wall or Shiva Linga —  a cylindrical object that symbolizes the god Shiva. 

Trataka meditation is the practice of gazing at a fixed point or object, usually involving a candle. It doesn’t need to be a candle, but there are a few reasons candles work best for this kind of thing. While some practitioners think of Trataka meditation and candle meditation as perfect for beginners, others feel that sitting in open-eyed meditation for prolonged periods requires concentration and stillness that comes from years of practice. Regardless, it’s all about finding your inner focus through an external focus. 

Is It Just Gazing at Candles?

Trataka meditation isn’t simply just gazing at candles. Even though it is often referred to as candle-gazing meditation, that is just a part of it. Gazing is coupled with inner work. The practice leverages the connection between the eye and the mind to calm one’s thoughts. 

The human eye can see between 30 to 60 frames per second of moving visual cues, delivering an overwhelming amount of information to the brain for analysis. With one single visual stimulus, the brain gets an overwhelming load of data.

Instead of seeing only a rabbit, the brain also expends mental energy to analyze and determine the color of the animal, its size, movement and other relevant points. 

When gazing at candles, the brain is forced to focus on one object. It’s not different from typical breathing meditation. In fact, you can also substitute the breath and the act of counting when doing Trataka meditation. The goal is the same for all forms of meditation — quiet the mind. 

The Benefits

Meditation can be highly beneficial to your mental and physical wellness. If you’re curious about the specific merits of Trataka meditation, it’s been known to open up your third eye and calm your entire system with a sense of warmth and comfort. If you believe in balancing chakras, this can be great for the upper chakras and the third eye. 

Other benefits of practicing Trataka are: 

1. It purifies the eyes and strengthens the eye muscles.

The gazing part is similar to an exercise for the optic muscles. Many practitioners claim their vision has improved with regular practice. 

2. It enhances the mind-vision concentration power. 

You’ll find you can focus on a single visual cue for an extended time without agitating the brain. It’s particularly useful for children who tend to get mentally stimulated by anything they see, with their attention span decreasing. 

3. It regulates sleep patterns. 

On a daily basis, you optically observe countless unnecessary things that translate to mental data. These distractions can contribute to sleep problems when the brain is overfed with stimuli. Practicing Trataka meditation helps rein in your thought process, making it easy to sleep at night.

4. It boosts intuitive skills and willpower. 

Practitioners believe if you practice Trataka frequently, you develop your intuitive skills and your willpower expands. 

How to Do It

The technique for Trataka meditation is mostly what it sounds like — all you need is a candle and something to light it, and you can get started on your meditation. If you’d like a bit more direction, you can dim the lights throughout the rest of your space so the candle you’re looking at is brighter and easier to focus on. This can also create a calmer and more relaxed environment if you’re using this as a way to wind down. 

A word of caution — it’s not advisable for children and adults with vision conditions to do this type of meditation as it puts stress on the eyes. That aside, follow these steps to begin your practice. 

1. Find a comfortable seated position.

2. Light your candle and as you do it, set an intention. 

3. Fix your gaze and attention on the flame. 

4. Watch it move around and flicker. Focus all of your mental energy on it. 

5. You may find yourself being distracted by stray thoughts — it’s normal. Bring your focus back to the flame.

6. If you want something more concrete, try inhaling and exhaling with the flame’s movement. You can set a timer for your meditation, put on some light music or go by your own internal clock.

Feel free to experiment with any medium in Trataka meditation. Some people may prefer a black dot on a white wall or paper or a religious image. 

Quiet the Mind With Trataka Meditation

You can practice meditation in many ways, and gazing at a candle or flame is a great way to explore new possibilities. No matter your meditation experience, you can try this one out and see how it works for you. 

Many meditation practitioners develop an affinity with specific mediums, like water, flame or breath. You may find this meditation technique easier to do than the others, so feel free to try it. 

Updated in November 2023

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