Trataka is one of the Shatkarma. Shatkarma is the six purificatory processes that purify the body and mind from all the accumulated waste and morbid matters that we have collected in our bodies by not following the rules of diet and lifestyle. These accumulated matters are the primary cause of disease in the body and removing these will purify the body and bring health. Trataka is performed for strengthening the eyes and brain, clearing the mind, and increasing its Satwa guna.
“Without blinking, one should steadily gaze at the smallest object, while sitting comfortably until tears roll down the eyes. This is called Trataka.” (Gherand Samhita 1:53)
Mainly it is of two types: Bahya and Antarika. There is a third type called Adho trataka but it is just a passing phase between the two. A sadhak should first master Bahya Trataka, then Adho-Trataka followed by Antrika Trataka to reach the state of Dharna (6th Phase of Ashtanga Yoga/ Raja Yoga).
Studies have shown that doing regular Trataka, increases alpha waves in the brain and enhances parasympathetic activity leading to a feeling of a calm and relaxed mind. It reduced tensions, anxiety, and other psychological issues.
However, some precautions must always be followed.
- When the gaze is focused on an object like a ghee lamp, dot, sun, moon, star, idol, or any symbol, it is known as Bahya Trataka.
- When the eyes are closed and the focus is on the mental image of any object or symbol on nothingness, it is known as Antrika Trataka.
- And when the eyes are half-open and half-closed and the focus is on the nose-tip on the area between both eyebrows, it is known as Adho-Trartaka or Madhya Trataka.
- Sit comfortably in sukhasana, Ardhadha-padmasana, padmasana, or any other meditative posture, straight back and neck.
- A ghee lamp is placed at a one-meter distance at eye level.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- With a relaxed mind, gaze at the flame, without blinking, till tears roll down.
- Gently close your eyes.
- Try to retain and focus on the mental image of the flame for as long as you can.
- Repeat three times.
- At the end of the third cycle, keep your eyes closed and meditate on the spot in the center of both eyebrows for 3-5 minutes.
- Rub both your palms together.
- Keep the rubbed palms on your eyes.
- Slowly open your eyes.
- Hatha yoga mentions that by performing trataka regularly eye disorders are cured and lethargy is overcome.
- It leads to the state of Dharna.
- In Gherand Samhita, it is indicated that the trataka is closely concerned with the training of the nervous system in a particular direction.
- Mental tensions are also reduced after the practice of it and one feels calm and quiet.
- Sleep pattern is improved.
Parasympathetic predominance is established by lowered heart rate and respiration rate along with an increase in the amplitude of vasodilation.
A well-modulated train of alpha frequency is produced which indicates relaxation and emotional stability.
The suppressed desires are eliminated from the subconscious and purify the mind.
It creates psycho-physiological relaxation and a feeling of calmness and lightness.
Neurotic tendencies such as anger, short temper, suspicion irritation, resentment, and anxiety are reduced after trataka practice.
Precautions and Contraindications:
- Avoid candles or other lamps.
- Use cow’s ghee in the ghee lamp.
- Hypertensive patients should perform Shavasana before the practice of trataka.
- People with too much emotional or mental disturbance should not practice without practicing preliminary asana and Kriya.
- Never rub your eyes after trataka.
- Do not repeat it more than three times in one sitting.
- Do not try to read or watch TV immediately after trataka.
By: Dr. Shikha