Trataka, Tratak, Fixed Gazing, Fixed Gazing meditation, Blinkless Gazing, Yogic Gazing
Tratak is a well-known Kriya or karma of the six karmas of yoga, the ‘Shatkarma’ and it also is a practice of meditation.
There are many different practices explained in different texts but they are all very similar. You can find the practice of Tratak with a betel leaf, a paper, a candle, a needle, darkness, open sky, a photograph, a deity, a crystal, a stone, a flower, the moon, a star, a painting, shadow, nature, a tree, ocean waves, a flag, a bird etc.
How to perform Trataka
The main practice of Trataka is to gaze. It doesn’t matter which object you use for this but you should focus on it and gaze at it without blinking. You can even close your eyes and focus within with closed eyes.
Choose any object that is currently available to you. If you are in nature, choose a tree, a stone, a flower or anything similar. If you are out in the night, do Trataka with the moon or the stars. If you are inside your home, just use anything that you see and can focus on.
The most common and suggested one is the practice with a lit candle.
Light a candle in a dark room and place it about 75 to 90 centimeters away from you at the level of your eyes. Focus on the flame and continuously stare at it without blinking until tears start running down your cheeks. Then close your eyes but keep gazing at the same point from behind your eyelids for 15 to 20 seconds. After that relax your eye muscles.
Place your palms over your eyes without any pressure on the eyeballs. Gently move your palms in circles. Take a towel or tissue to wipe your eyes.
After that you can continue the practice. You can do this exercise for 12 to 15 minutes.
For inner Trataka practice, close your eyes and start with gazing on your third eye between your eyebrows. Further you focus on your breath and then you focus on your mind and thoughts and just pick one thought or picture and focus on that. For example think of your loved one. Gaze on it inside of you and then narrow your circle of vision and point your focus more specifically at one point in the picture. Continue the practice until you can forget your surroundings completely. That is the stage of deep meditation. This is called Trataka meditation, also known as Dharana or concentration.
Benefits of Trataka
Trataka is very obviously a very great exercise for the eyes. It moves the eye muscles which are in the usual way of looking often only staring without moving. It can help people who suffer from glaucoma, conjunctivitis, eye herpes, keratoconus, macular degeneration, ocular hypertension and sometimes even for retinitis pigmentosa and Stargardt disease. Usual and common problems like hypermetropia (longsightedness) or myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism can be relieved. Peripheral vision problems, presbyopia and diplopia can all get help through the practice of Trataka.
If you suffer from frequent headaches, you can also get relief by regular practice of Trataka.
Apart from physical benefits for your eyes, there are many benefits of Trataka on your mind. You increase your concentration in every day’s life by concentrating regularly for a little while in Trataka. You will be able to focus and concentrate longer and better without getting distracted.
Through this time of concentration in between, you also reduce your stress in daily life. This is good for your mental health, helps you get better sleep and brings your nervous system to peace.
Do not let your thoughts distract your eyes from their focus. Keep concentrated.
Tips and Help
Keep breathing normally and stay relaxed, that helps you concentrate. If you are used to perform Dirgha Pranayama, deep yogic breathing, you can also use this breathing practice.
Keep a tissue or towel next to you for wiping your eyes and blowing your nose.
If you have an eye problem and you want to practice Trataka for that, please consult your doctor and yoga teacher before starting the exercise.