Trataka

Definition - What does Trataka mean?

Trataka, a technique used in a meditation practice, is one of the six purification techniques, called shatkarmas, of Hatha yoga. Trataka is a Sanskrit word, which means "to look" or "to gaze." As such, this meditation technique involves starting at a single point of focus. This is typically the flame of a candle, but other objects that may be used include a dot on the wall, an object of worship, a deity, flower, mountain, rising sun or moon. However, a flame is believed to work best.

Meditating in this way is believed to energize the ajna (third eye) chakra, which is associated with intuition and wisdom, as well as psychic abilities. Traditionally, it is said that the practice allows the past, present and future to be perceived with equal clarity.

Trataka may also be referred to as yogic gazing in English.

Yogapedia explains Trataka

Tratak is recommended in many yogic and Hindu scriptures, and there are a range of recommended methods of practicing it. Typically, though, the yogi will follow a process similar to this one:

  1. Light a candle and sit at least one meter away from it with the flame at eye level.
  2. Focus the gaze on the flame and keep it there without blinking for as long as possible.
  3. As thoughts arise, acknowledge them then return to focus on the flame.
  4. When the eyes start to water and tears flow, close the eyes and focus on the after-glow of the flame, bringing awareness to the third eye point.
  5. Meditate here until ready to come out of the practice.

Tratak is said to be most effective when practiced consistently at sunrise or midday. Its effects can be enhanced by practicing nadi shodana, or alternate nostril breathing, first. In an alternative variation, the eyes are not closed, but instead the yogi maintains their focus on the flame for up to 40 minutes.

Additional benefits of trataka include:

  • Strengthens eye muscles
  • Purifies the eyes
  • Treats eye disorders
  • Relieves insomnia
  • Aids in treating depression
  • Improves concentration
  • Calms the mind
  • Promotes emotional stability
  • Boosts willpower
  • Develops intuition and clairvoyance
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