Patanajli discusses this form of meditation on his work “The Yoga Sutras.” Trataka translates from Sanskrit to mean “gaze” this is a bit different than Drishti. We use the term Drishti in our asana practice as a way to detail the direction of the eyes. Trataka is a type of Drishti. Trataka is cleansing. The goal here is to focus on one point as a form of meditation.
Typically, a candle flame or black dot.
By using the focus of the eye to still the mind it is a type of meditation, specifically one that helps to open our Third Eye Chakra. Meditation allows us mastery of the mind and therefore our bodies and human experience.
Like all meditations, it is a practice. Heck, life is a practice. So, give yourself a little time to get the hang of this stillness.
How to do it:
You will need a candle/matches, table/chair, or comfortable sitting cushion and small table.
It is easier to begin in a dark space and lighting a candle so that is it easier for your eye to follow the flame and nothing else.
Sit comfortably with the candle at eye level, I don’t want you to crane your neck up or down as that is not comfortable and will distract from your practice and is bad for the spine.
Light your candle and set a timer (you pick, maybe 30 seconds or even 5 minutes to start).
Stare, in silence at the flame. Working to not focus on any thoughts that pop up but instead letting them dance away with the movement of the flame. I promise anything of importance or urgency will be remembered when your practice is finished.
Try not to blink, working your focused gaze toward the light for as long as possible.
Once you absolutely must blink, close your eyes, and keep the image of the flame dancing inside them.
Let that image remain near your Third Eye Center (space between your eyebrows) until you hear the alarm ding (perhaps pick a soothing sound so as to not startle yourself).
After the alarm has rung, gently blink open your eyes and blow out the candle. Come from a place of inquiry as to how you are feeling.
Just like with your asana practice there is a difference in coming to your edge and jumping off it. Please do not over strain your eyes or have a “hard” gaze. Let your eyes be soft but focused.