Trataka: The Meditation for People Who Can’t Sit Still
Trataka is a powerful yogic practice. It trains concentration, improves eyesight and allegedly develops psychic powers and a hypnotic gaze. The practice begins by staring at a rice grain sized dot on the wall or the tip of a candle flame. Resist the urge to blink, only do so when absolutely necessary. Work to extend the time unblinking to 15 minutes and practice daily. Trataka is also a cleansing practice.
Here, such burning can be really painful, but if the Aspirant invests all his efforts trying to keep his eyes open while trembling in tears. He will reach one exalted state at one point, in which he will easily keep his eyes open, without any problems and tears. —Sleeping Self
The eyes (and attention) will be unruly at first. It takes a type of psychological restraint to pull not just the physical eyes, but the attention into such a tight focus. Eyes typically saccade constantly with tiny jumps rather than staying fixed in a single place. Attention will slowly begin to feel like a laser rather than a fog light. The gaze may even feel like a force or tangible energy connecting to the point of focus.
For those who wish to conquer a wandering mind and develop the ability to hold a sustained focus, this practice is golden. Like weight lifting or any other developmental training, however, it is important to progress gradually. It’s a unique and accessible form of meditation for those who can’t sit still counting breath or watching thoughts.
For insomniacs, painting a dot on the ceiling with glow in the dark paint (or a little star sticker) gives you a useful exercise during your downtime. (Pro tip: a UV flashlight bedside can super charge this glow in about 30 seconds.)
Studies show that Trataka improves cognition in older adults, as well as eyesight. Other studies show reductions in anxiety, improvements in HRV, reduction in systolic blood pressure and more.
Guides for Practice