The dark nights are a great time to practice Candle Gazing or Tratak. Said to have evolved from our ancestors staring into the burning fire, this is a fantastic practice to develop concentration and meditation.
How to do Tratak
- Light a candle and place it at eye level on a small table around 3 in front of you.
- Sit in a comfortable posture with the spine upright and the arms and shoulders relaxed. You can take any meditative posture which you can maintain without any movement for the duration of the Trataka practice.
- It is important that the flame remains steady during the concentration routine. So, make sure that there no draughts.
- Firstly get comfortable, and begin to focus on the breath. This will allow you to settle bring you into the present moment.
- Now, gaze softly at the flame and keep your gaze on it without getting distracted towards outer thoughts. If you do get distracted, gently bring your mind back to the flame.
- 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.
- Continue to gaze at the flame until you cannot keep your eyes open and tears start flowing. Once this happens, close your eyes.
- When you close the eyes, you may be able to visualize an after-image of the flame with closed eyes. Try to bring this image at the point between the eyebrows at the centre of the forehead (the third eye location).
- When the image begins to fade out completely, bring your awareness back to your breathing and begin to watch the flow of breath at the tip of the nose for about 7 to 8 breaths.
- You can open your eyes at this point and repeat the full gazing routine as given above once more.
Why do this practice?
There are many benefits of candle gazing, in the early yogic texts it is credited with curing diseases of the eyes however there is no evidence to show this. Some of the generally accepted benefits include:
- Improves concentration.
- Excellent method as preparation for mantra meditation.
- Enhances self-confidence, patience and willpower.
- Calms the mind and provides inner peace and silence.
- Provides stress relief and deep relaxation.
- May deepen sleep and help sleep related disorders such as headache, insomnia, nightmares, etc.