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Practicing Tratak

By Elonne Stockton

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Tonight the teacher training students will be practicing tratak again. Tratak is one of the 6 main kriyas/cleansing exercises that are detailed in the Hatha texts. And Centered Yoga is one of the few schools that properly teach all of the main kriyas, as we have been instructed by O.P. Tiwariji and Paul, from the Kaivalyadhama lineage.

The kriyas work with different areas of the body. Tratak is specifically working with the eyes and the optic nerve. On a deeper level you are working with the subconscious mind – i.e., repressed memories, inhibitions, etc. And it can be quite cathartic.

It is best to practice tratak right before bed. While learning, it could be kept up every night for a period of time, or as it is individually prescribed by a teacher.

Steps for Tratak

  1. Place a candle on a table or a flat surface. You can adjust the height of the candle or the height of what you are sitting on so the candle is at eye level.
  2. Turn off the lights, close the blinds and make sure the room is very dark. Also turn off the fan and make sure there is no draft from open doors or windows, so the candle doesn’t flicker.
  3. Light the candle.
  4. Keep your eyes open as you stare at the flame until your eyes tear up and sting.
  5. When you can no longer keep your eyes open, close them and keep the image of the flame in your mind’s eye until it disappears.
  6. When the image fades, take shavasana.
  7. After shavasana don’t read, talk on the phone, email, or work. That will change your state of mind. Go to sleep.

One thing that is good to do before or after tratak is some mantra repetition. The mantra could be something simple like om. Try repeating om 11 or 21 times, either mentally or aloud.

If you are keeping up the tratak it is also good to keep a dream diary. Because you are working with the subconscious mind, you may find that you have some vivid dreams as a result.

As soon as you wake up, write down the dream before you forget it. Later you can look at your notes and see if the dream has any meaning. There are different kinds of dreams, and some have no deep significance. But dreams from childhood or from a long time ago could reveal something to us if we look closely at them and reflect on them.

Enjoy the practice!

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