If you’ve ever looked at a flickering candle flame and thought how calming and meditative it appears, you’re not alone! Did you know that candle gazing is actually an ancient practice, otherwise known as Trataka?
Unlike other forms of meditation where the eyes are closed and your attention goes inward, candle gazing meditation involves gazing at a flame and making that the subject of your focus. It’s a powerful practice that you can easily incorporate into your routine to experience its benefits!
Trataka Meditation Benefits
Candle gazing can be a very efficient way to practice meditation and is a great option for those who struggle to stop their mind wandering. That’s because by keeping the eyes open and having an animated object to focus on it is easier to stay focused and enter a state of pure awareness, as we aim to in transcendental meditation.
From practicing Trataka, we get all the usual benefits of a meditative state, but according to Hatha yoga traditions there are also several other benefits such as:
- Improves vision/eyesight
- Improves concentration and memory
- Enhances patience and willpower
- Improves productivity
- Calms the mind and promoting inner peace
- Improves clarity and decision making
- Provides stress and anxiety relief
- Deepens sleep and helps sleep related disorders
- Strengthens intuition and clairvoyance
Now, it’s worth noting that there is no scientific evidence to support these claims... so take these benefits with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, Trataka is a great tool to enhance meditation and that’s an awesome benefit in itself!
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How to do a Candle Gazing Meditation
So if I’ve sparked your interest , here’s how you can do your very own candle gazing meditation in 6 easy steps!
- Set your space: as with any other meditation practice, the space around you is important to set the scene and get you in the zone. Dim the lights, perhaps using a himalayan salt lamp to give a warm ambience to the room. Make sure you won’t be disturbed and turn off any electronics.
- Put your candle on a surface in front of you: place your candle on a hard surface away from any flammable items. You want the candle to be around eye level so bare this in mind and preferably use a table rather than the floor.
- Light the candle: this is non-negotiable!
- Sit in a comfortable position: sit as you would in any other meditation - whatever position is most comfortable for you. You may choose to sit on a meditation cushion with a blan
ket over you to keep warm for the duration of your practice. You should be around 3ft to 4ft from your candle.
- Gaze at the candle: your focus now is to keep your gaze fixed at the candle flame without fidgeting or blinking. Your eyes are likely to water after some time but this is normal. Continue until you cannot physically keep your eyes open any longer.
- Finish by closing your eyes: When you close your eyes, you may see an image of the candle flame in your mind’s eye. Try to direct this image at your third eye chakra (the point between your eyebrows). When the image completely fades, reopen your eyes and repeat the process.
Selecting a candle for Trataka
While you can use any candle you like for your candle gazing meditation, you ideally want to choose a non-toxic candle that’s made from natural soy wax or beeswax.
You can also experiment with using different colours and smells to resonate with a particular chakra that you might be trying to unblock. Here are some great options:
Extra Tips for Candle Gazing Meditation
Candle gazing doesn’t have to be a complex practice, but there are definitely steps you can take to make it a more powerful and beneficial practice. Bear the following tips in mind if you’re considering a Trataka practice.
- It is best practiced on an empty stomach so you don’t have energy directed elsewhere (digestion)
- It works best as a night time practice, since you have more control over the lighting levels
- If you practice during the day, you might want to consider blackout curtains to completely block out all light
- Regularly trim your wick to increase the lifespan of your candle and improve the flame
- Do not strain your eyes - it is better to keep a soft gaze than to stare
- Allow your eyes to rest afterwards (avoid looking at screens)
Let me know if you've tried candle gazing meditation and what your favourite part of the practice is!
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Esther Cundall is a psychology graduate and certified yoga teacher. She is the founder of the blog Hopeful Lotus, which guides readers to grow to their fullest potential using spiritual and personal growth practices. By sharing her own journey, she helps others find their own hope and heal from within.