Candle meditation has been around since candles were invented 3000 years BC. Before that, its origins date back to the first time a human being stared into a fire.
A fire is hypnotic and can quickly create a state of trance – if you have a fireplace or wood stove at home, or if you have ever been camping, you know how mesmerizing a fire can be. And if you’ve ever sat in a room lit only by candles, you have experienced how peaceful and relaxing the warm glow of candlelight can be.
Humans are naturally drawn to fire.
This is why candle meditation, or trataka, is so effective as a meditation technique. In this hypnotic state, the mind settles, and you can narrow your attention to experience profound insight and focus.
What Are The Benefits Of Trataka?
The benefits of trataka meditation are based on the scientific understanding that the movement of your eyes can show your thinking process. When you concentrate, your attention narrows to a single object of focus.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of trataka meditation:
- Strengthen the muscles around the eyes and can alleviate nearsightedness
- Eliminates insomnia and improves the quality of sleep
- Clears the mind, removes distractions, and improved concentration
- Improves mental stability and alleviates anxiety
How Do You Do Trataka Meditation?
The practice is very simple: in short, stare at the candle flame.
You can sit in any way that is comfortable to you (your usual meditation pose, which can be anything from sitting in a chair to sitting in full Lotus).
To maintain a good upright posture, place the candle as close to eye level as possible to avoid neck strain or slouching – alternatively, the candle can be on the ground 3 -6 feet away from you so that your gaze falls naturally on it.
Candle meditation is best done in a relatively dark or dimly lit room, so that it is easy to hold your focus on the flame and maintain a soothing ambiance. Use candles with a scent that is aligned with your intention: soothing, energizing, or clarifying. Beeswax candles are always a great option, for their delicate, natural honey scent.
Start by getting comfortable and taking a few long, deep breaths to relax; and then bring your attention to the flame. Soften your gaze and become fascinated with the dance of the flame… within a few seconds you will begin relaxing.
As you stare at the hypnotically-flickering flame, your mind will begin its usual wanderings. You might think about things you have to do, problems you are having, physical discomfort and so on.
Just redirect your concentration to the flame anytime this happens. Eventually your thoughts will slow, and then fade altogether and you will experience transcendence of thought where you are left with only awareness of the flame.
Is that it, then?
Just stare at the flame for half an hour?
It can be, if you want. Candle meditation is a self-guided practice. Sometimes you will want a silent mind; other times, you may want to let your thoughts wander; or, you may want to do specific self-development exercises like thought control or visualization/affirmations.
5 Trataka Meditation Techniques
You can try the following techniques:
1. Visualize the flame as a source of love and light
Feel it radiating outward, penetrating dark corners of the room. This is a great metaphor for divine love and light that can penetrate the dark corners of your thoughts. Allow the light and love of the flame fill the room, and fill every cell in your body.
2. Visualize the flame burning away your impurities
Visualize it burning away thoughts of hate, fear, impatience, insecurity, greed, anger, anxiety, self-loathing, depression, jealousy, bitterness, guilt and resentment. Replace them with the love and light of the flame, and positive thoughts/emotions.
3. Candle meditation is a present-awareness exercise
To further enhance your present-awareness, focus your gaze at the very tip of the flame, where flame turns to smoke. Notice that the color here is different than it is in the middle or the bottom of the flame. Notice that the slightest air movement will affect the flame in some way, just as your thoughts affect your environment.
Be aware of the scent of the candle, the movement of air in the room, and the way the flame moves.
Become aware of the smoke – sometimes it rises straight up into the air and sometimes it twirls around in spirals as it rises.
4. To connect with your infinite Self, contemplate the infinite nature of a flame
When one flame lights another, and that flame lights another and so on, you can see that the flame is infinite.
Visualize the light and love of the flame and radiate it outward from your heart to everyone you know; to everyone you have ever met or will meet; and especially to everyone who has wronged you or whom you have wronged.
Visualize the light and love from your candle lighting the candles of every other person on the planet.
Use your favorite Omharmonics soundtrack as a background or complement to candle meditation. Close your eyes and visualize the flame, only this time the flame is dancing to the music.
5. Expand on this visualization exercise
Eyes open or eyes closed, visualize the flame lighting the way for people who need help emotionally, mentally, physically or spiritually. Visualize the flame lighting the hearts of people consumed by fear and hate. Visualize the flame guiding you toward your higher purpose.
Let your imagination run with this! You can use light in so many different ways
Candle meditation can be used anytime to quiet your mind and de-stress. Simply light a candle and give yourself a chance to focus on it; in just a few minutes you will be enjoying a quiet mind and profound inner peace!
Use this when your mind is too busy and you need to focus. Keep candles handy wherever they are appropriate and take a few minutes here and there to center yourself and bring your attention back to the present.
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Have you ever practiced this form of meditation before? Let us know in the comments below.