Developing willpower – with Trataka

Even if no other type of meditation has worked for you, chances are that this one will:

Trataka is a powerful meditation and cleansing technique – and it’s so simple and straightforward that anyone can get started at home, right now. All you need is a quiet spot in your house and – a candle! Practising Trataka quite simply means sitting in front of a candle and focusing the gaze on the brightest part of the flame.

But while the practice is super simple, the effects and benefits are multi-faceted: 

Trataka (Sanskrit “to look, or to gaze”) has a superb effect on the eyes – it washes and cleanses them from the inside out. Staring at the candle causes a gentle strain; eventually your eyes will start to burn and tears may flow, leaving your eyes bright and clear. It’s also a fantastic method of meditation and helps developing concentration and mental focus. The practice balances the nervous system and may help with anxiety, depression or insomnia. It also helps developing willpower.

If you feel overwhelmed by silent meditation without any visual aid, this one is a great starting point! You’ll learn how to prevent your restless gaze from wandering, always seeking external objects, and at the same time you’ll eventually also learn how to control the restless mind (well, at least for a short period of time!).

Set up your own sacred spot at home, get a candle, focus on the flame - and finally close your eyes!

Set up your own sacred spot at home, get a candle – and finally close your eyes!

How-to Guide:

  • Light a candle. It should be at eye level and about one metre away. Make sure there’s no draught to ensure the flame is still and steady. Sit in front of it with a straight spine and focus on breathing slowly and deeply, steadily gazing at the brightest part of the flame. Try not to blink. Make a conscious effort not to let the mind wander and get distracted by your thoughts or things happening around you. If thoughts arise, acknowledge them – and let them go. Don’t engage in fighting them or thinking that you “shouldn’t be thinking right now” which only serves to create more thoughts. Start with 10-15 seconds and gradually build up to one minute if this feels comfortable (the ability not to blink has to be developed gradually!).
  • Now imagine the flame is permeating your body. It enters through your eyes and gently warms your entire inner being. Close your eyes and let the flame reappear before your inner eye – try to make this as vivid as if you were seeing the actual flame in front of you. While observing the image of the flame behind the closed eyelids notice the characteristics of the flame; the colour, the shape and the distance the flame is away from you. Just notice without trying to control the image. If it fades away try to bring it back.
  • When you finish remain seated for a while and observe the effects of the practice.

Why not get creative and set up your very own sacred spot at home? Maybe try a hand-poured, organic candle, containing 100% pure essential oils and scented with everything that promotes meditation (candle pictured: “Meditate” from Lemon Canary).

Each oil has its own healing effects and the life force of a plant is said to be contained in the essential oil – here are some ideas for potential candle ingredients:

  • Atlas cedar wood soothes tension, fear, anger and anxiety
  • Lavender stabilises emotions and stimulates and regenerates the nervous system
  • Lemon has a cleansing effect and destroys air-borne germs
  • Frankincense induces a feeling of mental peace, relaxation and satisfaction; awakens insight
  • French rosemary improves mental clarity and clears the head

Enjoy your quiet time 🙂

~ Andrea

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