Trataka

Trataka is an important eye exercise done by focusing the eye on a selected object (to be performed under expert guidance). Sit in an erect, comfortable position and place an object (a burning candle or diya) at eye level at a distance of around three feet from the face. This should be done in a closed room to ensure a steady flame. After closing the eyes for a few seconds, open them and gaze at the brightest spot of the flame above the wick. Continue doing this without moving the eye ball or blinking. Concentrate on the object until eyes are tired or watery. Relax, close eyes and feel the after image of the flame. Open your eyes as it fades away. Repeat the procedure for another four to five times. Then close eyes and relax completely. This exercise can be done any time. It is however recommended that you do it early in the morning or late at night, daily for 15 to 20 minutes. The body should not be moved throughout the practice. Persons having chronic eye disorders should seek medical advice before practicing this kriya.

This can be done in two  ways. 1. Bahya Trataka 2. Antar Trataka

Bahya Trataka

The eyes are kept open and concentrate on some objects like rising or setting sun, moon and stars. Selection of object has to be based on expert guidance.

Antar Trataka

Here the eyes are closed and concentration should be directed to the Chakras of our body viz. the navel, the region of the heart, the center of the brows.

Preparation

  • Get candle, candle stand and matchbox.
  • Wash your eyes with cool and clean water (with eye cup if available) before starting the practice for good result.
  • When you practice in a group, sit around the candle stand, making a circle at adequate distance from the candle stand (1.5 to 2 mts.) The maximum number of participants in a group around could be ten. Keep the candle at the same level as the eyes.

Instructions

  • Sit in any comfortable meditative posture, if required you may sit in a chair.
  • Remove your glasses and wrist watch.
  • Keep your spine, neck and head erect in a line. Collapse your shoulders.
  • Close your eyes and adopt Namaskara mudra (join both the palms and place them on the chest with the thumb touching the sternum).
  • Keep smiling throughout the practice. Calm down your mind. Observe your body and breath.

Preparatory eye exercises

Up and down or vertical movements

  • Open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • Gently move your eyeballs up-down. Do it ten times. Move your eyeballs smoothly and continuously. Try to avoid jerky movements and keep your head steady. Practise at your own pace.

Right and left or horizontal movement of eyeballs

  • Gently open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • Gently move your eyeballs right- left. Do it ten times. Move your eyeballs smoothly and continuously. Try to avoid jerky movements and keep your head steady. Practise at your own pace.
  • After completing ten rounds gently stop the practice and close your eyes.
  • Rub your palms against each other, form a cup of your palms and cover your eyes.
  • Practise simple palming. Do not touch the eyelids with your palms directly . Relax your eye muscles completely. Relax for a while.
  • Feel the warmth and darkness in your eyes. Ensure that your eyes are totally in dark.
  • After sufficient relaxation, gently drop your hands down.
  • Feel the cool sensation around the eyeballs. Relax for a while. Do not open your eyes immediately.

Diagonal movement of  eyeballs (Two directions)

  • Open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • Gently move your eyeballs to extreme right up, extreme left down. Do it ten times. Move your eyeballs smoothly and continuously. Try to avoid jerky movements and keep your head steady. Practise at your own pace.
  • After completing ten rounds gently stop the practice and close your eyes.
  • Rub your palms against each other, form a cup of your palms and cover your eyes.
  • Give press and release palming.
  • After completing five rounds, gently drop your hands down.
  • Feel the cool sensation around the eyeballs. Relax for a few seconds. Do not open your eyes immediately.

Rotational movement of the eyeballs (Clockwise and anti clockwise)

Clockwise movement

  • Open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • Gently move your eyeballs to the  left, up, right, down; Left-up, right-down. Do it ten times. Move your eyeballs smoothly and continuously. Try to avoid jerky movements and keep your head steady. Practise at your own pace.
  • After completing ten rounds gently stop the practice and close your eyes.
  • Rub your palms against each other, form a cup of your palms and cover your eyes.
  • Give constant pressure palming. Press constantly around the eyeballs with your palms . Inhale deeply and exhale completely. Do not press on the eyeballs. Relax your eye muscles completely.
  • After completing five rounds of deep slow breathing, gently drop your hands down.
  • Feel the cool sensation around the eyeballs. Relax for a few seconds. Do not open your eyes immediately.

Anti clockwise movement

  • Now, proceed to anti-clockwise rotation of the eyeballs.
  • Open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • Gently move your eyeballs in anti clockwise direction right, up, left, down; right-up, left-down.. Do it ten times. Move your eyeballs smoothly and continuously. Try to avoid jerky movements and keep your head steady. Practise at your own pace.
  • After completing ten rounds gently stop the practice and close your eyes.
  • Rub your palms against each other, form a cup of your palms and cover your eyes.
  • Give constant pressure palming.
  • If you feel like changing your position, you may do so. Take rest for sometime before you start Jyoti Trataka.

Jyoti Trataka (In three stages)

Step 1 Effortless gazing or focusing at flame

  • Gently open your eyes with a few blinks and look at the floor. Do not look at the flame directly.
  • Slowly shift your vision to the base of the candle stand, then move to the top of the stand, then to the candle and then slowly look at the flame of the candle. Now, start gazing at the whole flame without any effort. Do not blink your eyes. There may be some irritating sensation, but use your will power and gaze in a relaxed way. If tears appear, allow it to flow freely. This is a sign of good practice. Let the tears wash out the impurities from the eyes. Learn to ignore the irritation and watering from the eyes.
  • Gaze at the flame for about 30 seconds.
  • Slowly close your eyes, rub your palms against each other for a few seconds, form a cup of your palms and cover your eyeballs.
  • Give press and release palming.
  • After completing five rounds, gently drop your hands down.
  • Feel the cool sensation around the eyeballs.  Relax for a while.  Do not open your eyes immediately.

Step 2 Intensive focusing at the tip of the wick of the flame

  • Gently open your eyes with a few blinks and look at the floor. Do not look at the flame directly.
  • Slowly shift your vision to the base of the candle stand, then move to the top of the stand, then to the candle and then slowly look at the flame of the candle. Now, start gazing at the whole flame without any effort.
  • Slowly gaze at the tip of the wick of the candle. Focus your attention at one point. This is a practice of focusing  and concentration. Keep on gazing, use your will power. Let the tears come out and try not to blink your eyes. By practice the gaze becomes steady, making the mind one pointed.
  • Gaze at the flame for about 30 seconds.
  • Slowly close your eyes, rub your palms against each other for a few seconds then form a cup of your palms and cover your eyes.
  • Give constant pressure palming. Press constantly around the eyeballs with your palms and inhale deeply and exhale completely. Continue four more rounds. Do not touch the eyeballs with your palms directly. Relax your eye muscles completely.
  • After completing five rounds, gently drop your hands down.
  • Feel the cool sensation around the eyeballs. Relax for a few seconds. Do not open your eyes immediately.

NOTE:

  • Continuously gaze at the flame, no blinking or winking, smooth and effortless gazing.
  • Use your will power and ignore watering or irritation in  the eyes. Gradually increase the duration of gazing upto 60 seconds over a few weeks of practice.

Step 3 De-focusing

  • Gently open your eyes with a few blinks and look at the floor. do not look at the flame directly.
  • Slowly shift your vision to the base of the candle stand then move to the top of the stand, then to the candle and then slowly look at the flame of the candle. First fix your attention at the flame, then gradually widen your vision. Slowly de focus your attention from the flame and have a defocused gaze on the flame. With expansive awareness, collect all the details of the flame such as the colour of the flame, shape of the flame and aura around the flame. Then observe the aura expanding more and more and see the small light particles around the flame.
  • After one minute of de-focusing , gaze or focus on the flame. Slowly close your eyes and retain the image in your mind. Visualize the flame between your eyebrows and collect all the details with your eyes closed. When the image disappear go for palming.
  • This time palming is combines with breathing  and Bhramari.
  • First apply constant pressure around the eyes, then inhale and chant Bhramari  Mmmmmm……..;feel the vibrations of Bhramari throughout the body; repeat the same. Inhale-chant Mmmmmmm…….as you exhale. Feel the sound resonance in the entire head region especially around the eye region.

Step 4 Silence

  • Feel the silence and relax for a while. After sufficient relaxation, gently drop your hands down. Sit quiet for sometime and feel the deep comforting effect of the practice. Be aware of the changes taking place inside you. Recognize that the mind has become completely calm, your concentration, will power and sharpness of eyesight has improved.
  • Gently bring your hands behind the back, catch hold of the right wrist with your left palm, make a loose fist with the right hand and feel the pulse of the right hand.
  • As you breathe out, gently bend down towards the floor and surrender to the All mighty.
  • Come back as you breathe in.
  • Gently give a feather massage around the eye muscles with three fingers (index, middle and ring fingers).

Tips for practitioners

  • This practice is to be done  in the dark preferably in the evening.
  • Remove glasses, wristwatch and belt and make yourself comfortable in the posture.
  • Sit with your head, neck and spine erect. always open your eyes with a few blinks.
  • During eye exercises head is not to be moved but the eyeballs.
  • During Jyoti Trataka, when you open the eyes, don’t look at the flame right away. Start looking at the floor and then slowly bring your gaze onto the flame.
  • During palming don’t let the palms touch or press the eyeballs (Palms and not the fingers cover the eyes).
  • Breathe slowly and deeply with awareness during palming.
  • Palms are placed in such a way that there is complete darkness in front of eyes.
  • The facial muscles, eyebrows and eyelids should remain totally relaxed.
  • Trataka should be performed after Asanas and Pranayama.
  • Practise Trataka on a steady flame.
  • Avoid undue strain to the eyes.

BENEFITS:

Physical 

  • It keeps away the eyestrain by strengthening the eye muscles and by giving deep relaxation to them. It makes the eyes clear, bright and radiant. It cleanses the tear glands and purifies the optical system.

Therapeutic 

  • It is know to correct refractive errors. It is  known to be beneficial in relieving nervous tension, anxiety, depression and lack of desire to sleep (Insomnia).

Spiritual

  • It helps to develop concentration and also improves memory. It is known to increase will power and is an excellent preparation for meditation.

Limitations

Patients of epilepsy should avoid gazing of flickering of candle flames. They can, however, choose a totally steady object to gaze on. If you are a sensitive person who has insomnia, this practice at night make your mind widely awakened and difficult to go to sleep. Hence Trataka can be practised one hour before before going to bed. In case of tension headache ,one may avoid this practice, as it may aggravate the pain