Trataka (त्राटक) is a Sanskrit word, and means "to gaze". This meditation technique requires you to have an unwavering gaze on a single point, often the focal point is a candle flame. If you have ever focused on an open fire or flame and felt your mind clear then you have tapped into this practice.
Our vision is tightly connected to our mind, our eyes are the fastest muscle in our body, and can function at 100% at any given moment, constantly sending visual messages to our brain. Practicing certain eye movement exercises (much like breathing exercises) have been proven to help manage anxiety, stress & PTSD (if you'd like to learn more research EMDR therapy). Now, with screens constantly in front of us, our eyes are often restless, unable to focus on one thing, continuously shortening our attention span & creating a restless mind.
If we can still our eyes, we can also still our mind. By practicing Trataka, over time you begin to quieten the mind, gain clarity and rid yourself of the distractions around you.
How to Practice Trataka:
1. Find a comfortable seated position and ensure your candle is placed safely at eye level. Practicing in a dark room will deepen this ritual practice.
2. Light your candle, and begin to focus on the flame while trying not to blink.
3. Allow your face and body to soften, breathe.
4. Close your eyes when they begin to water.
5. Find the afterimage of the flame in your minds eye (bring your awareness to the ajna chakra, the centre of your brow).
6. Continue to focus on this image, when you are ready or when the flame disappears begin to slowly open your eyes and take a few deep breaths.