Have you heard of this post-holiday "candle yoga" relaxation technique?
Everybody’s talking about Trataka- but what IS it?
Have you ever caught yourself staring into the flame of a candle? Or maybe spending a warm summer night losing your gaze in a bonfire? What about cozying up around a wood fire to chase away cold winter nights? Maybe you’re already experiencing trataka but you just didn’t know it!
Trataka is a kind of flame gazing meditation. A type of hatha yoga, trataka is a form of meditation that aids in spiritual advancements as well as boosting concentration and memory. The main technique is to stare into a flame, just above where the flame starts (by the wick or wood) and clear your mind, letting your eyes focus.
If all of this sounds like your vibe, then keep reading to find out how to start incorporating trataka into your life!
01 Preparing to meditate
There are many different ways to practice trataka. The easiest though, is to pull out your favorite candle. You’ll need to create an ideal meditative environment, try…
Getting pillows or something soft to sit on
Having a table or stand to put the candle at eye level while you meditate
Minimize distractions as much as possible
No electronic devices
The best way to guarantee a relaxing, meditative environment would be to prep your room for success! Start by arranging a place on the floor where you can comfortably sit, back straight, neck aligned. You will also need a table, chair, etc, to set your candle on while you gaze, and to ensure proper spine alignment, it would be best to set the candle up at eye level, about 2 feet away. Once you’ve set up, make sure you are wearing comfortable clothes, your phone is off, the room has been darkened and there are no distractions around you.
After setting up, you should be comfortably ready to go. With your candle set 2 feet away from your face, and sitting, back straight on the floor, begin to stare into the flame.
Look into the flame
Clear your mind
Let any thoughts float past
Allow your eyes to grow heavy and relaxed, try not to blink!
If you feel your eyes watering, gently close them
The general vibe of trataka is quite simple, stare into the flame and don’t blink! Focus your gaze on the point of the flame just above the wick. Keeping your eye fixed, allow any thoughts that might pop into your head to float on by. You may acknowledge them, but try not to pursue them in order to let your brain drift into a peaceful state of meditation. Do your best to let your eyes relax and grow heavy as you clear your consciousness.
If you can’t keep your eyes open any longer and you feel them starting to water, allow your eyes to close.
Once your eyes begin to water, allow them to close, and cup your hands over your eyes gently.
Picture the flame’s after image
Wait for the after image to fade
Allow thoughts to re-enter your mind
On the backs of your eyelids, you’ll see the after image of the flame. Keeping your hands over your eyes, focus on that after image and allow it to very slowly fade from your vision. While it fades, imagine the after image floating in your mind’s eye, or directly between your brows,at the anja chakra. As the image fades, you may allow your thoughts to refocus on the flame and observe the feelings you experienced during your meditation.
Upon opening your eyes, you will feel rejuvenated and your eyes will feel cleansed. The key part of trataka is to allow your eyes to water before closing them. This process may help to flush out impurities from your eyes and could promote healing within your ocular region. Additionally, when practiced regularly, trataka could potentially aid in:
Improving memory retention
Cleansing the cerebral cortex (a.k.a. - your brain)
Balancing the nervous system
Relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia
Cultivating a clear mind and vision
There can be a certain pressure involved when meditating with your eyes closed, but staring into a candle flame is something people often do, and already find quite relaxing. It is the perfect way to begin meditating if you find it difficult to clear your mind!
If you wish to take on meditation but are intimidated by the thought of sitting quietly with your eyes closed, trataka is a great way to begin your meditative journey! So grab a candle, set up a cozy space, and make this a practice in your daily life!
(Recipe credits: New York Times’ Classic Hot Chocolate recipe by Melissa Clark; Shaken Together’s French Vanilla Hot Cocoa recipe by Melissa Riker; Tasty’s Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate recipe by Ellie Holland; Well Plated’s French Hot Chocolate recipe by Erin Clarke)
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