Trataka or Candle Gazing
A few weeks ago I wrote about Trataka Meditation (candle flame gazing) in our weekly Monday Meditation Musing (you can sign up here .. its free) and in light (pun intended) of our new candles now being available .. I wanted to share this wonderful practice with you.
Trataka comes from the yoga tradition and the beauty and simplicity of this practice is probably the reason why it is so widely known. It is very effective in exercising our concentration muscle, but also great for calming the mind and leading us to place of deeper silence within.
By focusing on one object (in this case a candle flame) we are able to release/let go or disconnect from the external world. On a physical level this practice is also noted as being good for strengthening the eye muscles as the exercise asks us to gently hold focus upon a single point, providing a very calming effect on the eyes.
You can practice Trataka on many different objects, the flame is the most popular as it produces a very clear after-image; when we close our eyes and ‘hold’ the image in our mind and is therefore easier to visualize once our eyes are closed.
If you have ever gazed into the arms of an open fire .. then you will understand the slightly hypnotic and engaging focus this can be. All you really need however is a beautiful candle and a little care around fire and where you place your candle – I have an altar at just the right eye-height and also have the candle placed on a wooden placemat.
*Darken the room and light your candle ensuring it is about 3 feet away and at eye level.
*Sit up in a comfortable and relaxed position, a chair is ideal.
*Rest your hands in whatever position feels right, keeping the back relatively straight and the body still.
*Take a few moments to settle.
*To start, close your eyes and simply rest with the breath .. observing the inhalation and exhalation, enjoying the gentle rise and fall, the ebb and flow.
*After a few minutes of settling, open your eyes and rest your gaze steadily on the candle flame.
*Rest here as long as comfortable.
*If the eyes tire or start to produce tears, close them and then open your inner awareness to the image of the candle present in the mind (visualize).
In the yoga tradition you hold the image of the flame between the eyebrows, at the centre of the forehead (the trigger point of the Third Eye Chakra).
*Keep your focus gently on the image. Our level of concentration determines how long we can retain the image, and if we lose our focus or become distracted we gently note the distraction and bring the mind back to the image of the candle again.
*Once the image has faded completely, open your eyes and begin again to focus on the candle flame.
*Do not strain the eyes, just allow the eyes to take in the image of the candle in a gentle and easy openness.
*Continue this cycle for 5-10minutes (to start) and over time you can increase this to a 20 minute practice.
At the end of Trataka simply rest a while in stillness .. this is the best part!
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
Happiness never decreases by being shared”