origin, benefits, technique
Have you ever noticed the mechanism that occurs when you stare at an object for a long time? Perhaps, unknowingly or not, you have already practiced Trataka meditation .
Trataka meditation is a widely used practice in yoga, especially in the phase of ” clearing the mind “. It consists of staring at an object repeatedly, then closing our eyes and reproducing it in our mind, right at the height of our third eye .
By doing so, we get rid of the recurring thoughts and anxieties that haunt us every day. The concentration created by Trataka is such that a powerful flow of energy is created , capable of eliminating any negative element around us. Limiting beliefs, inadequacy and disempowering thoughts disappear, leaving room for stillness.
With Trataka meditation one raises one’s spirit to a higher level, exercising the power of one’s mind and guiding it in the healing of moods such as anxiety, insecurity and stress.
Trataka, the connection between eyes and mind
The relationship between the eyes and the brain begins in our first days of life. Our eyes begin to form just two weeks after conception, with the retina and optic nerve developing as a direct extension of the brain. So the retina is actually a piece of the brain that has grown into the eye and also shares a similar structure .
Furthermore, vision is so important that almost half of the brain is dedicated to vision.
Conventional medicine knows that mental health conditions translate into specific eye movement patterns . This is why people with good emotional intelligence are able to read your mental state through their eyes.
The same goes for your breath – it changes based on the emotion or mental state you are experiencing at any given moment. There is a specific breathing pattern that occurs when we are angry, for example, and another when we are scared, depressed, tired, happy, etc.
The contribution of Eastern philosophy and the yogis’ “experimentation of consciousness” also bring to light the opposite pattern: your eyes and breathing patterns also directly affect your mental and emotional state. This is really good news, because it is much easier to work at the level of breathing and the eyeballs, rather than at the level of the mind (which is so distracted and volatile).
The next time you feel anxious, angry, or stressed, watch your breathing and eye movement. Then consciously bring a sense of relaxation and stillness to both of you, and you will notice that the emotional state also changes.
The Principles of Trataka meditation
As mentioned, our eyes are constantly making microscopic jerky movements , designed to make sure that the image of whatever falls on the retina changes constantly (this is called the Troxler effect ). They do this so that objects in our visual field continue to be registered by the brain. If not, constantly staring at an object long enough it would tend to disappear from our perception.
In fact, our eyes can focus on more things every second. This scanning of the environment was a necessity for primitive men. In our modern lifestyle, however, our inability to turn off this anxiety-producing movement does not contribute to our survival or quality of life.
The intensive use of computers and smartphones is training us to be more and more restless with the eyes. This is one of the reasons why our attention span continues to decline.
What yogis have discovered is that calming these micro eye movements can induce stillness of the mind.
Benefits of Trataka meditation
There has been very little scientific research on this practice to date. So what we know in terms of benefits is mostly anecdotal evidence from professionals who have spent years practicing and perfecting Trataka. Here are some of the benefits they reported:
- Improve concentration , memory and willpower
- Improve visualization skills
- Improve cognitive functions
- It makes the eyes stronger
- Helps with insomnia
- Bring repressed thoughts to the surface
- Increases nervous stability
- Calm the anxious mind
- It balances the activity in the two hemispheres of the brain
- Improve vision in the dark (when practiced by candle flame)
- Improve self-confidence and patience
Thanks to Trataka meditation you will then be able to calm the mind on command simply by training your gaze to dwell on an object. In addition, this type of practice will exert powerful work on eyesight , improving focus and performance.
How to do Trataka Meditation
Practicing Trataka meditation is simple. Just focus your gaze on an object; we can consider something external to us ( Bahir Trataka ) or an internal figure ( Antar Trataka ).
The most common symbol with which to practice this technique is the flame , because it is the simplest to reproduce with your eyes closed. Place a candle in front of you, at a distance of about one meter, then sit in a comfortable meditative position. Add pillows if you need them to be more relaxed, and if you wear glasses, take them off.
Focus on the brightest point of the flame and start staring at it. If you keep your eyes open for a while, you may be watering, but don’t worry. When you feel like it, close your eyes and observe the image you see in your mind: the reflection of the flame on the retina. Keep focusing your gaze and don’t let external thoughts interfere with your moment of meditation.
When the image disappears, open your eyes again and stare into the flame once more. Repeat this process for about 20-25 minutes.
Over time and experience, Trataka meditation will become more and more helpful in clearing your mind , making space between thoughts and improving your attention.
What is mirror meditation?
Mirror meditation is a type of contemplative meditation (Trataka), which uses your reflection in a mirror as an object of focus. You can focus on the pupil of the right eye or the space between the eyebrows.
This practice helps to develop concentration quickly and also improves self-confidence and self-esteem.
What does it mean to see an eye during meditation?
Spontaneously seeing an image of an eye during meditation is considered a very good sign by some meditation masters. It is widely reported by many meditators, so it appears to be a symbol of the unconscious mind. Yogis say this means your Third Eye is starting to awaken.
What are some yogic eye exercises we can do before trataka meditation?
Keeping your head completely still, move your eyes left and right ten times; then up and down ten times; then make full circles clockwise and then counterclockwise, five times each. This is a good exercise for the eye muscles, and some teachers recommend it as a preparation for meditation.
We usually read a lot about how to practice meditation using the sense of touch (as in mindfulness and walking meditation ) and the sense of hearing ( transcendental meditation , nada yoga).
In this article, I have focused on techniques that use our sense of sight.
Even if trataka meditation is not for you, simply being more aware of your eye movements in your meditation practice can be helpful when performing other techniques.
We have seen how sight is the most powerful sense and how it is a direct door to influence our mental states. If you can spend 5 minutes with a steady gaze, your mind will surely experience a sense of calm and well-being.
The moment you have even the slightest memory, thought or imagination, your eyes will have a micro-movement and you will notice it immediately. Sight is a powerful ally of awareness.