It has been confirmed by a Swiss doctor that my vision is superhuman! Besides genetics (although every member of my family wears glasses), I’ve attributed my spectacular vision to the practice of Bahiranga Trataka. I was introduced to it at 13 years old and it’s remained one of my top 3 daily meditation methods until today. This week I had to get my eyes checked for a new driving license. Once the doctor gave me the results, it got me thinking about why and how my eyesight is so much better, especially compared to my immediate family. The ophthalmologist said he couldn’t test their strength any further, because he doesn’t have the equipment for it, but they’re at least 20/15.
‘Trataka’ otherwise known as ‘yogic gazing’, is an ancient meditation practice, that also serves as a ‘kriya’, or cleansing process, of the eyes. The gaze is fixed on an object until it becomes imprinted in the mind with the eyes closed. There are 2 types of trataka practice. I will touch on antaranga trataka (internal gazing) at the end, but the main focus of this article is on bahiranga trataka (external gazing) and its meditative and cleansing benefits.
HOW TO PRACTICE BAHIRANGA TRATAKA MEDITATION
In bahiranga trataka you gaze steadily at a single object without blinking, until the eyes sting or begin to water. The objective is for the focal point to be something the eyes will not get easily distracted from, and will stay imprinted once the eyes are closed. Therefore a candle flame is traditionally used, as your eyes absorb the light of the flame, and its image remains once the eyes are shut. Be careful not to use an object that may arouse any positive or negative emotions. A candle flame is a practical and neutral object to focus on.
- Start with sitting comfortably with a straight back, and a candle flame 50-100cm away at eye level. Make sure it is on a steady surface in a safe environment i.e. a dog or child isn’t likely to knock it over. Warn others not to disturb you during your practice, switching off noisy devices and creating a quiet space. Darken the room to avoid visual distractions, and to enhance the light of the flame. Ensure there isn’t a draft blowing and that the flame is steady in your eyesight.
- Take a few deep breaths and then take your full awareness to the tip of the candle wick, staring at it without blinking. Keep focusing on the image of the flame until the eyes can’t handle it any further, stinging or watering.
- Gently close the eyes keeping the image of the flame vivid in you mind. Keep your focus on the image which should be imprinted in the middle of your eyebrows as if hovering just in front of your face. Don’t worry if you don’t see it or don’t see it for long. With practice it gets easier and the duration of how long you can keep starting at the flame, and how long you see it for once you’ve closed your eyes, increases.
- Once you can no longer see the image with the eyes shut, reopen them and repeat the process; Staring at the candle flame, absorbing it until the eyes can’t take it, and closing them for as long as you keep seeing it for. Keep repeating the process for a minimum of 2 minutes, and up to 20 minutes. Once you’ve finished your meditation, take a few deep breaths and gently readjust your eyes to normal lighting.
In antaranga trataka, you begin like bahiranga trataka, but the eyes are kept closed once you’ve taken in the image of the object/flame. If you do not have an object to look at then usually one imagines a star, flame or spot of light in the middle of the eyebrows. It is a more advanced practice where one must keep ‘seeing’ their object and bringing their awareness back to something, that they can’t actually see.
BENEFITS + TIPS
- Trataka is said to help prevent, treat and even cure various eye diseases. It increases concentration and focus and is said to enhance intuition. Its practice disconnects us from the external world and the mind away from the body. It pushes sensory perception away, disassociating our thinking from our body and releasing our mind to a calm, clear space. With practice it enhances our ability to be mentally and physically productive and focused, but also to switch off and be still when needed. It is also an interesting way of developing still meditation and concentration in kids.
Personally I believe it has made my eyes stronger and my vision better over the years of practice. I have also used it whenever I’ve had something stuck in my eyes and it has always worked. I lived by the beach for some years and will never forget a farmer putting a drop of fresh lemon in my eye, when there was some sand stuck in there. It was a Sunday, no pharmacy was open and in agony, I relinquished to his ‘grandmother’s’ method of cleaning an eye! I realised that it was only because the lemon had made the eye sting and therefore water, that whatever was in there came out. At that moment I knew a few minutes of bahiranga trataka would achieve the same result, and it’s worked for me ever since! I no longer need eye drops or someone furiously blowing in my face. Or lemon!
Charlie began practicing yoga over 25 years ago and has been teaching for more than 12 years to people of all ages and abilities. She is the lead trainer on the Indiv Yoga 200 hrs & the RCYT Kids Yoga Alliance Teacher Training Courses, and has certified over 350 students worldwide.
Originally from London and having worked in New York and Lisbon after her Psychology degree, she has since settled in Switzerland with her husband, and dedicated her life to expanding her knowledge of the science of yoga, mindful meditation and better physical and mental health.
Over the years Charlie has worked with some of the most renowned yoga teachers around the world (David Swenson, Shiva Rea, Anne-Marie Newland, Leslie Kaminoff, Sadie Nardini, Sonia Sumar etc) certifying in Hatha, Sivanada, Ashtanga, Childrens and Family Yoga, Yoga for the Special Child, & Inner Engineering with Sadhguru. She has become highly respected for her successful work in yoga therapy, especially for Autism, ADHD and other behavioural and developmental syndromes. She has also talked at some of the biggest corporations in Switzerland and the annual SGIS (Swiss Group of International Schools) Conference on implementing Mindfulness in the work place and the education system.
Charlie holds the highest yoga qualifications as an ERYT500 (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), RCYT (Registered Children´s Yoga Teacher), RPYT (Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher) and YCEP (Yoga Continued Education Provider) with the Yoga Alliance, and has developed Indiv Yoga™ to bring a more physiological, therapeutic and individual approach to yoga. Indiv Yoga™ Switzerland is a RYS (registered yoga school) and RCYS (registered children’s yoga school) providing Yoga Alliance teacher training certifications of the highest professional standards.
The focus of Indiv Yoga™ is to provide the benefits of yoga to every type of individual, using its teachings to achieve physical and mental balance, and diminish the anxieties of modern life for adults and children.
Read her onlineand for a feel of her knowledgeable and friendly professionalism.