Trataka Meditation

Trataka Meditation: Friday 23 may 19.15

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The practice of trataka boosts concentration and memory, and promotes strong, healthy eyes. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika defines trataka as “looking intently with an unwavering gaze at a small point until tears are shed.” This simple technique has a purifying, invigorating effect on the mind and improves concentration, paving the way for a deeper meditation practice. Because it is one of the shat kriyas, or six cleansing actions, trataka also cleans and heals the eyes.

Though many objects can be used to focus your gaze during trataka, the most common is the flame of a candle. Assume a comfortable meditative posture with your head, neck, and trunk aligned. Set a candle two feet in front of you, with the flame positioned at eye level. Make sure the room is dark and draft-free.

Begin with your eyes closed, surveying the body and watching the breath until it becomes calm, regular, and even. Then open your eyes and rest your gaze on the middle part of the flame, right above the tip of the wick. Keep your eyelids slightly more open than usual, and maintain your gaze without blinking or blurring your vision for as long as possible. Observe any thoughts that arise, watching them come and go without becoming engaged. Find the after-image of the flame in your mind’s eye, resting your awareness at the ajna chakra, or eyebrow center.

According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, “Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue, and sloth, and closes the doorway creating these problems.” In addition to improving concentration and memory, trataka cleanses both the eyes and the cerebral cortex, balances the nervous system, and relieves depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Because sight, mental discrimination, and the fire at the manipura chakra are intricately interwoven, trataka also nourishes the subtle flame at the navel center, promoting vitality and inner health. So steady your gaze, and follow the light all the way to your inner self. (Yoga Journal)

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