Technique. Trataka – Stage 1

The method is divided into two parts: outer trataka on the candle and then inner trataka on the after-image. Those who wish can merely do outer trataka, while others can do both, one after the other. The choice is yours. Light the candle and place it on a small bench or table so that the flame is at eye level when you sit on the floor. Sit on the floor and adjust your position so that the candle is at an arm’s length from your eves and directly in front of you. Adjust your position so you are comfortable with the spine erect. Close the eyes and relax the whole body. Practise kaya sthairyam6. Let your entire body become like a statue. Make the resolve that you will not move your body throughout the whole practice; if you do then you will immediately distract your awareness away from the practice. Preparation is important, so totally absorb yourself in your body; try to think of nothing else. Practise kaya sthairyam for a few minutes. When you are ready, open your eyes. Gaze intently at the flame, directing your attention particularly to the top of the wick. Don’t look at anything else but the flame and wick. Try not to blink your eyelids or move your eyeballs. Don’t strain the eyes. If you must blink, then blink. With practice you will find that you will be able to gaze without blinking for a long period of time.

The important factor is that you relax your eyes as much as possible; if they are tense then try to relax them. It is tension of the eyes that causes them to flicker. Many people try too hard not to blink, which creates tension and makes it even more difficult to control this blinking movement. Don’t try so hard and you will find that the eyes automatically cease to flicker. Keep your awareness on the candle flame and wick. Centre your awareness in this way so that you lose awareness of your body. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the practice in hand. Initially continue this gazing for about 2 or 3 minutes. Then close your eyes. Everyone has looked at the sun for some time, closed the eyes and then seen a clear impression made by the light on the retina of the eye. Likewise, try to visualize the after-image of the candle flame in front of your closed eyes. If you don’t see an after-image don’t worry; all that is required is practice; for the meantime, merely try to create and visualize the flame. There will be a tendency for the image to move upwards or downwards; try to steady the image. Try to be totally aware only of the after-image. If any psychic visions, extraneous thoughts or other experiences arise, merely act as a witness. Don’t react to them in any way; just let them come and watch them with disinterest. Continue in this manner as long as the afterimage is clear. When the image begins to fade, open your eyes and again gaze at the candle flame and wick. Focus your awareness on the external flame, nothing else. Continue this outer gazing for about 2 or 3 minutes, again without blinking or flickering the eyes if possible. Then once again close the eyes and gaze at the inner image, for as long as it is sharp and distinct. Continue to repeat inner trataka and outer trataka, one after the other for as long as you have time available. Then just before you finish close the eyes and watch the dark space in front of your closed eyes.

Watch any activities that may occur there, taking care to remain a witness only, without any involvement. Be aware of any thoughts that arise.

Practise this for a few minutes. Then open your eyes and blow out the candle.

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