Tratak means to gaze steadily without blinking the eyes. This is one of the premeditative tools which are performed with eyes. Hatha Yoga Pradipika defines it as one of the Shatkarmas.
Placement of the candle
Right alignment of the candle is critical to avoid any neck strain, back strain or any other kind of discomfort or distraction. Hence, place the candle at eye level and an arm’s length or two to three feet away in front of you. The candle should be placed in such a way that the flame is at eye level when you sit on the floor.
Alignment in case of any eye defect
Position the candle in such a way that you can get a clear image of the object and there is no double or blurred image during practice.
It is preferable that one does not use glasses during practice, as regular practice of candle gazing will help get rid of the dependence on spectacles in future. However, in case, it becomes absolutely necessary to use it then one should use that. An example – a short sighted person would need glasses for moon gazing.
You need a dark room to practice candle gazing. The room should be devoid of dirt, insects, any distracting sounds or smells. It should not be too airy as it is important that the candle flame be steady and not flicker at all.
- Assume a comfortable sitting position
- Keep your spine neutral; rest of your body should be relaxed
- Close your eyes and take few deep breaths to relax your body and mind. Concentrated deep breaths will allow you empty your mind of any diverting thought
- Softly open your eyes and begin to gaze at the tip of the flame
- Do not over strain your eyes by forcefully keeping them wide open
- Try not to blink your eyes or move your eyeballs. However, if it is a must then you must.
- Continue gazing at the flame for 2-3 minutes with complete awareness. With regular practice, you can increase the timing to 5 minutes
- In the process, if you feel that your eyes are filling with tears, allow it to roll down your cheeks. This signifies the endpoint of practice
- Then close your eyes and try to see the image of the candle flame in between your eyebrows
- The after image might be unsteady, try to steady it (movement of the after image is an indication of the movement of thoughts in your mind)
- Once the after image begins to fade, open your eyes and again gaze at the flame especially at the tip of the flame. The ultimate purpose is to lengthen the timing of inner gazing as much as possible
- Again, move from outer tratak to inner tratak once you are done with the second round.
- As the duration of practice increases, it becomes easier to get a clear picture of the after image immediately upon closing the eyes. This image is also visualized for a longer period of time.
- It is recommended that you wash your face and eyes after tratak
Candle gazing is static tratak which works directly on developing concentration.
Best time for practice
- Early morning or late at night before retiring for the day
- After asanas and pranayamas as tratak is a premeditative tool that starts preparing you for meditation
Duration of practice
- Regular Practice for at least 15 minutes daily will yield great results
Relaxed eyes during the practice makes it easier to master tratak.
Tratak benefits not only the eyes, but a whole range of physiological and mental functions. It is therapeutic in cases of depression, insomnia, allergies, anxiety, postural problems, poor concentration and memory. It helps develop stronger will power.
A meditative tool
The description from Gherand Samhita (I:53) indicates that the tratak is closely associated with the training of the nervous system. It reduces mental tension and unleashes some of the dormant potentials of the mind and prepares you for meditation. Regular practice of Tratak reduces the number of thoughts in one’s mind, develops one- pointedness and, thereby, calms the mind. Regular practice of tratak facilitates practice of Shambhavi mudra, which leads to the process of Dharana.
Acts as a catharsis
Acting as a catharsis, Tratak is capable of releasing you of repressed or suppressed desires and emotions which might have had a firm hold on your sub conscience. It helps purify your mind off emotional baggage, brings calmness and lightness to your being and brings you a step closer to inner peace.
Tratak is one of the most highly recommended practices for insomniacs. It should be practiced before going to bed. Results could be experienced within a month of practice.
People with weak eyesight or weak eye muscles can greatly benefit with regular practice of Tratak.
A preparatory tool for Hypnotherapists
Hypnotherapists need to practice tratak daily to excel in their field. The control they exert over their own mind with Tratak helps them associate with and calm their patients down.
Works on Neural Network
It has been found that it helps neutralizing tendencies like anger, short temper, suspicion, irritation and resentment is done for one month. Anxiety is also controlled. Tratak is a very important practice to remove impurities or blockages in the neural network and to prepare the individual for meditation.
- One suffering from hypertension should perform shavasana before performing Tratak
- Do not rub your eyes immediately after tratak
- Do not read or watch any form of screen immediately after tratak
- Do not repeat tratak more than thrice in one sitting.