I’ve always held a deep fascination with candle gazing. Staring into a flickering flame has often ignited something indescribable within.
I first learned about the technique in a yoga book my grandmother bought for me from a book shop one day during the summer holidays. I was 12 years old and obsessed with everything yoga.
I loved practising the Sivananda yoga asanas from the book every single day and soon became an incredibly fit and flexible pre-teen (the headstand and wheel were my speciality) but soon I found myself becoming more interested in the meditation and mindfulness exercises towards the back pages.
Trakata (Candle gazing) was one of these techniques I read about with fascination. Yet it was something that I never really explored until my late twenties – partially because my mother was always warning me about lighting candles in the house and also because for a good decade or so the mention of anything spiritual meant nothing to me.
It wasn’t until the past year or so that I discovered how powerful candle gazing can be. I was staying with a friend and before going to sleep, we would practice this exercise with due diligence.
At first, it simply made my eyes water. It was only when I really allowed my senses to explore this space – this union being created between myself and the candle that I began to realise the artfulness of the practice.
Some of the benefits of candle gazing include:
1. Improved concentration and better productivity levels
Candle gazing encourages you to focus on the flame in front of you, preferably in a darkened room.
By doing this, your attention has nowhere to go except the flame.
Without any visible distractions, your mental faculties get a workout as your consciousness becomes absorbed in the flame and nothing else. This can encourage mono-focus and if practiced regularly, it can spill out into other areas such as your work and home life.
2. Cleanses the etheric body
Trataka is a cleansing technique for the eyes and encourages deep concentration.
It is a yoga technique for the visual senses and when practiced can cleanse the eyes and the etheric body while providing you with a deeper sense of peace and clarity. You may also experience new light on a situation that has been persistently bothering you.
3. Revitalises energy
Once the etheric body is cleansed, the natural result is an increased sense of purpose and vision.
You may experience greater self-confidence and more determination to follow through instead of second guessing or doubting your own abilities to succeed.
4. Calm mind and sense of inner peace
When the mind is in such a deep state of focus, all else falls away. Candle gazing is excellent for calming thoughts and emotions.
The mind’s waters are calm and focused and this brings a transcendent state of inner peace.
Thoughts and emotions that may have previously bothered you begin to fall away or settle down with regular practice.
5. Improved eyesight and vision
The practice of daily Trakata can strengthen the eye muscles and even help to fight all kinds of vision related issues.
In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it states that “Trataka eradicates all eye diseases, fatigue and sloth and closes the doorway to these problems”.
6. More patience and willpower
The more accustomed you become to candle gazing, the more you learn to overcome the mind’s resistance to do so.
You build patience within yourself and more tolerance for any kind of problem you are experiencing.
Meanwhile the benefit of willpower can give you the strength to overcome anything that doesn’t serve you or others. The practice of Trakata can benefit you in so many areas of life that it really has to be experienced to be believed.
7. May help you to overcome mental, behavioural and emotional problems
The more you calm the mind with candle gazing, the more that sense of inner peace shines through into your daily life.
Any emotional, mental or behavioural difficulties you may be experiencing can be dealt with more smoothly.
It’s as though Trakata provides a kind of cushioning, to help you to deal with and overcome any kind of situation that would otherwise feel devastating. No matter how challenging, Trakata can strengthen you from the inside. This may help you to overcome barriers in life.
Candle gazing is best practiced first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening before going to sleep.
Try experimenting with your candle gazing practice to see what works for you.
Keep the candle at eye level, around 90cm away from where you’re sitting.
At first as you stare at the flame, your eyes may water. Do not strain your eyes, only focus for as long as it feels natural. Over time you can extend the duration as the practice becomes more comfortable.
Try experimenting with different flames for different effects and feel how they resonate deep inside you.
Relight Your Fire
Like the flame, once you resonate with and realise you are one with that same energy – you realise the strength of the Spirit laying within.
This is what I am now learning to work on within myself and feeling called to do, at this stage of my life. I want to increase my focus so that it consumes my entire being with a deep passion and purpose so I can then effortlessly radiate it out. I want to become my own fire.
Passionate and fiery like the flame, full of life and energy, you too have the potential to find your own light deep inside – encouraging others to burn just as bright.
The power lays within and candle gazing may be just the tool you need to find clarity where previously there was only darkness.
by Anna Jones