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Traatak is one of the six cleansing practices of Hath Yog. It consists of a steady gazing, without blinking the eyes, at any small object at one meter distance e.g., the flame of a candle or oil lamp, a small point or the distant objects like rising Sun, planets, Moon etc.; until tears start rolling down. It is practiced for purifying the subtler channels (Naadee) of the body and the nervous system, before learning Praanaayaam and to achieve deeper concentration. In one of the scientific investigations on Trataka, performed on the candle flame, it was observed that the degree of psycho-physiological relaxation emotional balance and a feeling of pleasantness as well as the parasympathetic preponderance was increased after Traatak.

Traatak meditation is an ancient method for improving oneís eyesight. The ten senses (Karmendriyaan and Gyaaanendriyaa) function according to the Panch Bhoot, five basic elements. The eye in particular functions by the element fire. It is by fire (light) that we can see, and it is this element that allows the eye to function. Fire produces two energies, namely light and heat. It is by light that form is manifested, and by heat that shape is manifested. Shape and form together create the appearance of an object. This is the Adhi-Bhautik level of control over sight. Beyond the elemental level of control there is the adhidaivika controller, who for the sense of sight is the sun god, Surya. It is by the control of the Sun that the element fire is able to produce its energies. The third level of visual control comes from the self, or the Adhyaatmik Purush. It is the individual soul with his active consciousness that functions through the instrument of the eye. -
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If one is performing Traatak meditation on a lamp, then Til kaa Tel (sesame seed oil) is better than Ghee. Actually castor oil is the best for Traatak and it is what was used in older times. Castor oil is much better because it creates a very bright flame. The true Traatak is meant to be performed not on a lamp, but on the Sun at particular times of the day. At the time of the sunrise and at the time of sunset, one is supposed to perform the meditation on the Sun. At that particular time the sunís rays are shielded enough that there will not be damage to oneís eyesight. When one is not able to perform Traatak on the Sun (due to clouds or timing) then one is recommended to perform Traataka on a lamp. The effect of Traatak with a lamp is not as powerful as the effects received by meditating on the Sun. But first one should stick with a lamp, because you may not perform the sun meditation properly and you may damage your eyes.

It is best if one starts practicing this meditation for 15 minutes a day, and gradually increases it. One should alternate between staring at the external flame, and concentrating on an internal flame in oneís mindís eye. Stare at the flame of the candle without blinking until water begins to come from oneís eye, then close your eyes and try to visualize the same flame within for an equal length of time. Continue alternating in this manner.

Types of Traatak
Generally there are three types of Traatak ---

1. Antar Traatak : Keeping the eyes closed, one has to still-gaze with feeling of visualization on internal regions like Bhroo-Madhya, Heart, and navel.
2. Madhya Traatak : Still gaze on an object made up of metal and stone or an ink written ADM on a paper or on a point or Naasikaagra i.e. tip of the nose or on Bhroo-Madhya (The point midway between two eye brows) or on any near object with open eyes.
3. Baahya Traatak: Fixing gaze at Moon, planets, Sun or any distant object.

Normally we cannot gaze directly at the Sun particularly one hour after the Sunrise even through the goggles, but the Yogee who have good practice are able to gaze directly at bright Sun at any time of the day for a long period. This itself is a feat.

Any of the following exercises may be taken up for its practice.

(1) Keep the picture of Krishna, Raam, Naaraayan or Devee in front of you. Look at it steadily without winking. Gaze at the head; then at the body; then at the legs. Repeat the same process again and again. When your mind calms down look at a particular place only. Be steady till tears begin to flow. Then close the eyes and mentally visualize the picture.

(2) Gaze on a black dot on a white wall or draw a black mark on a piece of white paper and hang it on the wall in front of you.

(3) Draw the picture Om (!) on a piece of paper and have it before your seat. Do Traatak on it.

(4) Lie down on an open terrace and gaze at a particular bright star or on the full Moon. After some time, you will see different colors of lights. Again some time later, you will see only a particular color throughout, and all other surrounding stars will disappear. When you gaze at the Moon, you will see only a bright Moon on a black background. At times you will see a huge mass of light all around you. When gazing becomes more intense, you can also see two or three Moons of the same size and at times you cannot see any moon at all even though your eyes may be wide open.

(5) Select at random any place in the open sky in the morning or evening hours and gaze at it steadily. You will get new inspirations.

(6) Look at a mirror and gaze at the pupil of your eye.

(7) Some people do Traatak at the space between the two eyebrows or at the tip of the nose. Even during walking, some persons do Traatak at the tip of the nose.

(8) Advanced students can do Traatak at the inner Chakra, (Padm). Moolaadhaar, Anaahat, Aagyaa and Sahasraar are the important centers for Traatak.

(9) Keep a ghee-lamp before you and gaze at the flames. Some astral entities give Darshan through the flames.

(10) Very few Yogee do Traatak on the Sun. It requires the help of an experienced man by their side. They begin to gaze on the rising Sun and after gradual practice they do Traatak on the Sun even in the midday. They get some special Siddhi (psychic powers) by this practice. All are not fit for this Saadhanaa.

All the first 9 exercises will suit everyone and they are harmless. The last one, sun-gazing should not be attempted until you get the help of an experienced man


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 08/27/13