In the previous articles we talked about why past life meditation in necessary and the Buddhist practice of past life meditation called Jivamala meditation. Today we will talk about Trataka. Trataka, which literally means “to gaze”, is a method of meditation that involves staring at a single point such as a small object, black dot or candle flame.
What is Candle Gazing Meditation?
Trataka is one of the six cleansing techniques mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the classical text on the practices of Hatha Yoga. In is defined as,
“Looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until the eyes begin to tear, is called Trataka by the great teachers.”
Importance of the Colour of the Flame
Each candle color disperses different forms of energy during the meditation process. If there is a particular quality that you would like to enhance in yourself such as your intuition, then you could choose a green coloured candle to open your insightfulness.
Colour has a great influence on us; helping to balance and align us to the Universal Life Force. Below is a range of colours, and their attributes.
- White – Clarity, wholeness and completion, purity, innocence and simplicity.
- Gold – Wealth, prosperity and abundance, spirituality and higher ideals.
- Silver – Clairvoyance, accessing the subconscious mind, and personal transformation.
- Violet – Connecting with the divine, higher consciousness, spiritual development, commitment, and reverence.
- Indigo – Intuition, insight and wisdom, imagination, clarity of thought.
- Blue – Self expression and communication, inspiration, creativity, relaxation, trust, and devotion.
- Turquoise – Healing, independence, and protection.
- Green – Love, forgiveness, compassion, dedication, inspiration, hope, trust, the ability to heal oneself and others, freedom.
- Yellow – Self esteem, self respect, self discipline, ambition, inner power, generosity, ethics, confidence, the courage to take risks.
- Orange – Sexual energy, sensuality, happiness, friendship, the ability to survive loss of any sort, optimism.
- Red – Survival, safety and connection to the physical world, courage, family bonding, physical strength and vitality.
- Pink – Loyalty, warmth, empathy.
How to do Candle Gazing Meditation (Trataka)
- Close all the doors and windows and make sure there’s pitch darkness in the room
- Light a candle and place it on a small table around 3 to 4 feet in front of you.(arm’s length)
- Sit in a comfortable posture with the spine upright and the arms and shoulders relaxed. You can assume any meditative posture which you can maintain without any movement for the duration of the Trataka practice.
- Make sure that the flame is at the level of your eyes. Also, make sure that you are facing the candle directly without having to turn the neck even slightly.
- It is important that the flame remains steady during the concentration routine. So, make sure that there no breeze around of any kind to disturb the flame. If needed, turn off any fans or air conditioner in the room.
- Take a few deep breaths to relax. Close the eyes and watch your breath as you inhale and exhale for about five to seven breaths. This will allow the breath to settle down and bring you into the present moment.
- Now, open your eyes and gaze at the flame intently and keep your gaze on it without getting distracted towards outer disturbances and thoughts.
- Keep your vision focused and steady on the flame without blinking, for as long as it is comfortable to you. Try to avoid any kind of body movement during the entire practice.
- Keep your gaze anchored on some part of the flame, rather than the candle or wick. (I recommend the bluish invisible point at the centre of the candle.)
- If thoughts come up in the mind, just become aware of them and then ignore them. Try to maintain your awareness and focus on the flame.
- Continue to gaze at the flame until you cannot keep your eyes open and tears start flowing. Once this happens, close your eyes.
- (you can do this part lying down or seated if repeating the practice) When you close the eyes, try to visualize an after-image of the flame with closed eyes. Try to bring this image to the minds eye, the point between the eyebrows at the centre of the forehead (the third eye location).
- The depth and level of your concentration will determine how clear the after-image is. (This develops over time, be patient with yourself.) If you cannot visualize the after-image of the flame with closed eyes, or it wavers constantly or looses clarity, then re-apply your concentration, open your eyes and restore the position of the after-image. (repeat this only 3 or 4 times)
- When the image begins to fade out completely (from minds eye), bring your awareness back to your breathing and begin to watch the flow of breath at the nostrils for about 7 to 8 breaths.
- You can open your eyes at this point and repeat the full gazing routine as given above one more time.
- In the beginning you may feel that the eyes begin to water after only a few seconds. However, with practice, your eyes will be able to continue the gaze for longer periods and you can practice Trataka for up to twenty minutes or so.
Candle Gazing Meditation and The Third Eye
Candle light meditation is said to bring energy to the “third eye” and we all are aware of the power of the “third eye”. We have experiences beyond all experiences when it gets activated. As the energy in the third eye grows, it provides perceptions beyond our ordinary sight and opens the door for the inflow of the unlimited knowledge from this cosmos.
After practising this form of meditation and with patience you might experience vivid dreams and visions as you sleep or just upon waking up. Write them down in a journal before these visions start to fade. One image may be meaningless one day but at the end of a week of visions they may tell a deeper story or offer healing to a past trauma or situation.
The other health benefits of Candle Light Meditation
- It improves eyesight and vision
- It enhances your ability to focus on a task and hence improves concentration
- It reduces stress and provides deep relaxation
- It improves the quality of sleep and cures sleep related disorders
- Enhances self-confidence, patience and willpower.
Tips for Candle Light Meditation
- It is best to practice it very early in the morning or before going to bed at night. You will be able to concentrate better on the candle flame when it is peaceful and dark
- Make sure there is no strain on the eyes. Do not sit too close to the flame but also not far. Find the right distance between you and the flame. It might take a few tries to find a comfortable position.
- Many candles are made with toxic substances such as paraffin, which release harmful vapours when burning. Look for candles made from beeswax, or soy wax. They are non-toxic, and burn longer.
I would not recommend doing this in a group. You might want to learn how to do this from a teacher or through observation or a single group session, but self-awareness never happens in a group.
You need to be alone when you regularly practice any form of meditation. You need to forget about your family, your friends and that anyone else exists even God. It is only you who exists at that very moment.