Trataka, what it is, and how it can help you

I love candles, I love fire, the look of the flames as they dance in unison with the air around it. Candle flames and the flickering of a campfire light are simply amazingly relaxing. I mean, who will argue with that? If you have ever sat and gazed at the flame of a candle or campfire light and felt that sense of total relaxation and inner peace, you know all too well what I am talking about!

There is just nothing like the feeling that comes over you as you sit and gaze into the soul of a calming flame. Candles that are infused with aromatherapy give an even greater sense of relaxation and the smells can be intoxicating as they take over your senses and infiltrate your very soul with feelings of wellbeing and satisfaction. But did you know there is an entire science behind candle gazing?

In fact, candle gazing or Yogic gazing, also called candle gazing meditation is actually a thing that is older than some people realize. For thousands of years yogis have been meditating to the flame of a candle and it is called Trataka. Trataka, a word originating in Sanskrit, literally means, “to gaze”. There is a whole meditation that is built around sitting in meditation and simply staring in concentration at a candle flame of the flickering of a campfire light (shamanic meditation).

To top that off, in today’s scientific-backed world, there have been studies done that prove the effectiveness and health benefits of Trataka. We all knew there was something to it and that is why I am here to shed some light (pun intended) on the subject. What is candle meditation exactly? Well, it is simple. You are sitting and focusing your eyes on the candle flame. Ignoring all distractions, just like you do with any meditation.

You sit there and concentrate on that flame with your physical eyes open and do so for 1-5 minutes each day or whenever you need it. I will tell you that simply sitting and staring into a candle flame and emptying your mind of all distractions is very relaxing and will calm even the craziest moment in your life. No matter where you are, candles are usually pretty accepted. Whether you are at home or at work, you can usually light a candle and have it burning near you.

Whenever you need to relax star into the flame and focus for 1-5 minutes and watch what effect this has on your mental and emotional wellbeing. At the end of this article, I will teach you how to do Trataka. For now, I want to tell you about the details of this amazing meditation and its benefits. There have been multiple studies that suggest there are mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical benefits to practicing Trataka.

Because of this, Trataka is part of a holistic approach to health which includes benefits for the mind, body, and spirit. Spiritual benefits of candle gazing meditation may include:

  • reduction in excess passion, action, and movement
  • increase in consciousness and clarity
  • improvement in intuitive or spiritual vision

However, there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims, just the claims by those that will swear by them. I for one, will toss in my own personal claims and tell you that I have found truth in all that and more. I feel Trataka even improves my ability to heal in all aspects. Those who practice say benefits of candle meditation include:

  • increased cognitive performance and focus
  • improved memory and spatial attention
  • Improved mental health
  • improved sleep quality
  • improved eye health

Digging deeper, here’s what the experts and research say about candle meditation benefits:

  • 2021 narrative review of 37 articles indicated that trataka boosted cognition. A small study of 41 volunteers from the same year suggested it enhanced working memory, spatial memory, and spatial attention.
  • 2016 study indicated trataka might bolster selective attention, cognitive flexibility, and response inhibition.
  • 2014 study of older adults suggested trataka might improve cognition in aging populations.
  • 2021 narrative review indicated trataka may have similar benefits. A 2020 study of adolescent students suggested it could help with anxiety.

Well, I can tell you from my own personal experience that my eyes are not focusing on something unnatural, and my mind has been given something to do, focus is nice work for the mind. Focus will always cause a sense of calmness and inner peace this is why I am always preaching to my people, “mindfulness in everything you do”. It is proven that mindfulness meditation is a game changer holistically.

There is also so much proof out there that mindfulness can lessen accidents and improve all cognitive functions as well as physically make your brain grow!

Going on:

  • small 2020 study of 29 participants with insomnia indicated that practicing trataka for 45 minutes daily for 10 days may reduce insomnia severity and enhance sleep quality.

So, what about eyes problems? Is there a link someplace that shows Trataka could improve eye problems? Actually, yes, there is. In fact, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika indicates that candlelight meditation may help prevent and support the treatment of eye diseases. Through other studies, we know that this is not conclusive because there are going to be some eye diseases and issues that cannot be helped with Trataka.

But what about eye strain. Every day people look at their phones and computers and TVs with unending devotion. This is some serious strain for their eyes and mind. However, staring into a candle flame as it dances about and focusing your mind on that moment and nothing else sounds like a very good treatment for eye and mind strain and I will tell you, it makes perfect sense. So, with all this awesome information, now I will tell you how to do Trataka.

Settle into a comfortable position. Allow your gaze to rest gently upon the point of focus.

If your eyes are open, you can choose to gaze at the candle without blinking, which may cause your eyes to tear and water, or you can gaze while blinking. You can close your eyes if you want and contemplate the inner light and intention you want to bring in.

Perhaps you want to cultivate grounding or send love and compassion or feel in the light the quiet hum of inspiration and the soft whisper of gratitude. Whatever your intention, it is beautiful and right. It’s yours.

If you aren’t sure what to focus on, you can allow your candle gazing to be a space of curiosity. Quieting the mind and inviting in space for curious questions or giving energy to your meditation and yoga asana practice.

Pause and slow down to spend time in your sacred space in the light. Taking a few minutes or longer to spend time in the space of sacredness and awe is an inspiring way to bring your yoga and meditation alive and ground it down in your life.

When you’re ready, cup your hands over your eyes and close your eyes. Or, if you want, you can open your eyes and gaze into the darkness of your cupped hands. Give yourself a gentle massage.

Send yourself gratitude for taking the time to connect to the light outside and within. Thank your candle and blow it out if it’s lit. Your practice is complete.

Candle gazing meditation is associated with the third eye chakra and will help to alleviate problems with the third eye as well. So, if you are finding problems that are associated with a blocked third eye chakra, this meditation can help you. I personally have candles burning in my space, every day and so anytime I need to stop and refocus or relax for any reason, that flame is there. Not to mention the aromatic scents in the air, constantly, that do well with my being. If I had to take anything away from this information it would be the health benefits associated with candle meditation for my eyes. But we all know that the eyes are the window to the soul and so, anything that is good for the eyes will always benefit the mind as well.

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