How To Drop Into Your Next Meditation With Candle Gazing (Trataka Sadhana)
It can be difficult for some to drop into meditation and let their thoughts go. Candle gazing, or trataka sadhana, is one way to give your eyes something to focus on so you can get more from your meditation. Here's what it's all about, plus how to do it yourself.
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What is trataka sadhana?
Trataka sadhana, which loosely translates to "gazing ritual," is a practice within hatha yoga that involves staring at a single point—often a flame. It originated in India and is thought to strengthen the third-eye chakra, as well as deepen meditation practices in general.
Improving concentration and mindfulness is the object of this practice, and trataka sadhana remains an important tool in yogic traditions. It's believed that when the practitioner can fix their concentration on a certain point, all areas of their life will improve with their new, cleared vision and stronger sense of awareness.
How candles can help you drop into meditation.
There are a number of reasons candles are so helpful in meditation practice, reiki master Serena Poon, C.N., CHC, CHN, explains to mbg, with one of them, of course, being they give you a point of focus: "You can use the flame of your meditation candle to help you concentrate. Having a point of focus can help ease your mind from the energy of distracting thoughts," she says.
Connecting to the fire element, in particular, can also help you while meditating. "The element of fire is a powerful tool for transformation," Poon adds. "Your meditation candle can help you harness this energy to inspire personal growth." And not for nothing, the ambience candles create is relaxing and introspective, she says.
One study even found that elderly participants who practiced trataka sadhana for a month had significantly improved cognitive function compared to the control group.
What you'll need for a candle meditation.
One of the nicest things about candle meditations is you don't need much more than a candle (and anything else you like to use to elevate your meditations). Poon recommends selecting a candle that has been "thoughtfully created with natural ingredients and aromas that will enhance your meditation environment." It's also a good idea to go for candles that burn slowly, she adds.
A short and simple candle meditation practice.
This meditation from Poon couples the power of fire with the power of the full moon, to release old energy and call in the new, bringing about meaningful shifts. Though it's geared toward the full moon, it can be done at any time:
- On this month's full moon, write down all the things you would like to release from your life—from emotions and habits that aren't serving you to toxic relationships, etc.
- Now, set up your meditation space with any of your favorite spiritual objects, dimming the lights if you can. Try to be somewhere quiet where you'll be undisturbed.
- Light your candle. If you wish, you can surround yourself with crystals and other objects to support transcending the circumstances written on your paper.
- Sit in your meditation space and breathe quietly for several minutes. You can reflect on what is written on the paper if you wish.
- When you are ready, say out loud, "With this full moon (or 'on this day,' if the moon outside isn't full), I release all that is not in alignment with my greatest and highest good."
- Gaze into the candle flame and imagine these things that aren't serving you burning into the flames.
- In their place, envision the new energy that you would like to call into your life.
- Then, you can say (out loud or in your head): "I welcome a new path, new energy, new connections, new experiences, renewed health, new thoughts, and new beginnings."
- Blow out the candle and give thanks and gratitude to the energy of the fire, and yourself, to close out the meditation.
Tips for candle meditation:
Look with your third eye if your eyes start to hurt.
If your eyes grow weary from staring at the flame, one way around this is to gently close your eyes and picture the flame in your mind's eye. Perhaps through your eyelids you can still see the soft orange glow of the candle. Hold the image of the flame in your mind until you're ready to open your eyes again.
Tap your intuition.
Poon recommends tapping into your intuition to guide your meditation rituals. "Meditation is a personal, introspective practice that is not one-size-fits-all," she says. "You will have an innate knowledge of the elements, crystals, and environment that you need to connect with deeper levels of connection and understanding."
Don't worry if thoughts are still popping up.
No one ever said meditation was easy, and while, yes, candle gazing can help you maintain focus and concentration, it does take practice. Thoughts may still pop up, and the key is to allow rather than resist them. Hold your gaze on the candle, keep breathing deeply, and when your mind wanders, know it's OK, let it go, and come back to the flame.
The bottom line.
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Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, as well as a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.