The previous two stages of trataka are concerned with first of all focussing one’s attention on an external object, followed by the resulting after-image1. The third stage of trataka which we will shortly describe, inner or antar trataka alone, is a more advanced technique. It can be either practised as a sequel to stage 2, or as a separate practice in its own right.
However, little benefit is likely to be gained from the practice if you have not already developed the ability to create and perceive a clear internal image at will. This can be done with or without an external and material counterpart. In order to help the reader decide whether or not to practise inner trataka by itself we suggest the following criteria:
1 If you cannot visualize and maintain a clear inner-image you should continue to practise trataka stage 1 or 2.
2 If you can hold a clear inner counterpart to an outer object and perhaps even produce an internal image at will, we suggest that you leave stage 2 and proceed to stage 3.
3 If you have plenty of time at your disposal then you can practise both stages 2 and 3, one after the other.
The important thing is that you don’t attempt stage 3 without being able to fix your awareness on a clear inner-image. If you have a vague inner-image or even no image and you attempt to do stage 3 then you will either fall asleep or become enveloped in the usual patterns of thought play. In either case you will gain nothing in fact you will lose, for you will waste your valuable time. So use your discretion and choose the practice that is most suitable for your degree of proficiency.