Trataka

I’d first tried this yogic method when I suppose I was around 15. At the time, I bothered little about concentration, let alone meditation. I recall little of considerable importance from back then: one very unimportant fact that we sat around in circles of 10s and gazed restlessly, and not to mention, pointlessly at the candles before us. It was at the Vivekananda Kendra at Jigani, 32 Kilometers off Bangalore for what was called a “Personality Development Course” that I tried it.

Things are nothing close to what they were back then; I’m back to Trataka, but this time, with good reason. Since I (re)started, this act of candle gazing leaves my eyes fresh from tears which filled it. It’s a great feeling, something you might’ve noticed, that once you’ve cried your bit, and you have little to cry over, everything around you somehow turns clear. This act does more than just that, it’s something one can meditate on, and as we all know how meditation can benefit us, we’ll leave that aspect untouched.

Candle gazing, hmm, sound boring? It is, indeed, but only at first. In short, the idea to sit opposite a (lit) candle, at a distance of 3-6 feet and endlessly gaze at it with eyes opened wider than usual. While at this, concentrate on a particular area of the flame, you might choose the wick, the topmost part of it, or the brightest of all areas in the flame, it’s vertical centre, but never the candle itself! That said, once your area of “interest” is chosen, it’s time to continue gazing and cut/impede thoughts as they arrive. In the event that one doesn’t stop the associative progress of these thoughts, they will come, and they won’t stop. Your best bet is to stop at the time they start; remember, most of your time performing this act should be spent on gazing and not trying to decapitate mosquitoes with a clap, i.e., stopping thoughts. Mind you, all of this is to be done without a blink of the eye.

Of all methods, I find this method of meditation particularly easy. The reason I say this, is this: Trataka isn’t just about gazing into a candle flame. Though one might do so indefinitely, it is advisable that one stop after a point, which is normally when the eyes start to water. If you’ve watched the boring candle long enough, you ought to see a part of it when you have your eyes closed. This is precisely what you must do, you will see an after-image of the candle when you soon have your eyes closed. If you’re an easily disturbed lad, you should see another image, in which case the candle flame on the inside of your eyelid will serve as a background. Get to work, try and keep the candle in the foreground at all times, a mammoth task for a mammoth with flees over its body working at their peak. If this isn’t enough, keep the candle at one position, it will tend to move around to the corners, just as your mind does.

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