In the previous lesson we described outer trataka on a flame followed by inner trataka on the resulting after-image’. The technique that we will shortly outline is a more advanced form of the same basic practice. It involves two extra techniques which make it more powerful in inducing mental peace and one-pointedness.
TRATAKA – STAGE 2
When one has practised trataka stage 1 for some time and has gained reasonable familiarity and competence in its practice, one should leave stage 1 and proceed to stage 2. The most important thing is that you should be able to gaze at the outer object for some time without any tendency to blink the eyelids. If
you still find that your eyes flicker throughout the practice, it is far better that you continue stage 1 until you gain mastery in this respect. Furthermore, if you still don’t see any afterimage during inner trataka, you should also continue stage 1. If you don’t see any afterimage be sure not to worry, for it takes time with most people; nevertheless, slowly but surely at some stage in their practice they begin to discern an image. At first it is faint, but gradually over a period of days and weeks it becomes clearer.
General preparatory details
For general information on the choice of object of awareness, position of the object in relation to the sitting position and the posture itself, refer to the previous lesson: Trataka – Stage ll.
In line with the description of trataka stage 1 that we have given we will take the candle flame as our object of awareness.
There are four stages in the practice, each of which must be done in turn.
Stage 1: preparation
Take a comfortable pose, preferably one of the meditative asanas2. Adjust yourself and remove all sources of discomfort, so that you feel no necessity to move throughout the whole practice; it is far better to make adequate preparations now than to move your body during the practice. Close your eyes. Practise kaya sthairyam for a few minutes3. Be aware only of the body. Make a resolve that you will not move your body for the entire practice. Then proceed to stage 2.
Stage 2: outer gazing
Open your eyes. Gaze directly at the tip of the wick of the candle. Practise outer trataka. Try not to blink or move your eyes in any way. Be totally absorbed only in the candle flame and wick. If you are beset by extraneous thoughts, let them come; be aware of them and then gently remind yourself that you are practising trataka. In this manner keep your attention focused on the flame and wick. Continue in this manner for about 3 minutes. Then proceed to stage 3.
Stage 3: breath awareness
Perform khechari mudra4. Become aware of your breath, while simul-taneously maintaining awareness of the candle flame. Practise ujjayi pranayama4. Now you must use some imagination. While breathing in, imagine that you are drawing your breath from the candle flame to the eyebrow centre and through to the back of the head. You have to split your awareness, so that it dwells on both the candle flame and the movement of the breath.
Be also aware of the sound of your breath. When you breathe out you have to imagine that the breath flows from the back of your head, pierces the eyebrow centre and then returns to the candle flame. Throughout the eyes should not flicker. Carry on repeating this process, breathing in and out as you try to feel, to imagine, the air moving backwards and forwards from the flame, through the eyebrow centre to the back of the head and vice versa. All the time you should be simultaneously aware of both the candle flame, the breath and its sound.
Eventually, if you practise with sufficient intensity and awareness, you should find that the air seems to naturally and actually move along the path between the flame and the back of the head. Continue this practice for a few minutes. Then do stage 4.