August 9, 2018
‘Trataka’ means to see or gaze continuously as mentioned in Hatha yoga pradipika chapter 2 shloka 31
निरीक्षेन्निश्चल -दृशा सूक्ष्म-लक्ष्यं समाहितः ।
अश्रु-सम्पात-पर्यन्तमाचार्यैस्त्राटकं स्मृतम्॥ ३१॥
which means, “Looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until tears are shed is known as trataka by the acharyas”.
The same has been mentioned in Gheranda Samhita Chapter 1 Shloka 53
निमेषोन्मेषकं त्यक्त्वा सूक्ष्मलक्ष्यं निरीक्षयेत् । यावदधुन पतति त्राटकं प्रोच्यते बुधैः ॥ ५३ ॥
which means, “Gaze steadily without winking at any small object, until tears begin to flow. This is called trataka by the wise”.
It is a way of concentrating the mind at one point, a practice which needs to be taken up before meditation. When one keeps on observing a point without blinking the chaos of mind starts settling. The only thought left is that you are observing a point, without any judgement. Time flies while you are immersed in trataka.
Trataka can be done on anything such as yantra, mandala, full moon, setting sun, star, a point, rose, mountain, sea etc.,. With practice you can even do trataka on nothingness. The most preferred object for trataka is candle flame. Candle flame attracts the attention as it is bright, effective when done in a dark room preferably during early mornings or late evenings.
- Select a room or space with less light and air must be still, the idea is to avoid the flickering of candle flame.
- Sit in any comfortable position (On the floor, if you can) and once you are settled, avoid physical adjustment or movements as it disturbs mind from concentrating.
- Adjust the height of candle flame in such a way that the flame is in line with the eye and don’t place it too close to the eyes.
- Start observing the middle portion of the candle flame above the wick.
- As you gaze the candle flame, keep concentrating on the breath.
- At some point, you will be able to only observe the non-flickering candle flame and nothing else.
- Your eyes may irritate and tears will start dropping. In such cases close your eyes, let the tear roll over the face.
- When you close your eyes, you will be able to see the after image of the candle flame, keep observing it. Do not allow it to escape, once you feel the after image is vanishing, with the closed eyes start observing the eyebrow centre. The image will again appear.
- Once with the closed eyes you see that the negative after image has totally vanished, gently open your eyes and concentrate on the candle flame.
- Repeat the procedure, Increase the duration of sitting gradually.
With practice trataka can be practised from one to one and half hour.
In the above method, two kinds of Trataka are mentioned. The one with eyes opened is Bahiranga Trataka (External) and the other with closed eyes is Antaranga Trataka (Internal). One can even practice Japa along with Trataka.
Trataka unlocks the inherent energy of the mind and channelizes it to the dormant areas of consciousness. Arousal of clairvoyance as mentioned in Gheranda Samhita chapter 1 shloka 54
एवमभ्यासयोगेन शाम्भवी जायते ध्रुवम् ।
नेत्ररोगा विनश्यन्ति दिव्यदृष्टिः प्रजायते ॥ ५४ ॥
which means,”By practising this yoga, Shambhavi siddhis are obtained: and certainly all diseases of the eye are destroyed and clairvoyance is induced”.
And other capacities such as telepathy, telekinesis, psychic healing,etc. can develop. Not only that, further results of one pointedness of mind are strong willpower, improved memory and concentrative ability. Physiologically, trataka relieves eye ailments such as eyestrain and headache, myopia, astigmatism and even early stages of cataract as mentioned in Hatha yoga pradipika chapter 2 shloka 32
मोचनं नेत्र-रोगाणां तन्दाद्रीणां कपाटकम्। यत्नतस्त्राटकं गोप्यं यथा हाटक-पेटकम्॥ ३२ II
which means, “Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway creating these problems. It should be carefully kept secret like a goldencasket”)
The eyes become clear and bright, able to see the reality beyond appearances.
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Sw Muktibodananda, Yoga Publiction Trust, Munger,Bihar, India.
- The Gheranda Samhita, Translated by Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra Vasu. Sri Satguru Publications, Shakti Nagar Delhi 110007.