2 min read
A classic form of meditation called Tratak (also referred to as Trataka) allows people to practice observing their mind as it splashes vivid imagery across their field of vision.
Some evidence has emerged suggesting that Tratak could help boost concentration and attention, as well as reduce anxiety, similar to other forms of meditation.
-Dr. Jason Holland, Lifespark
Sometimes referred to as a “visual cleansing technique,” Tratak involves staring at a candle placed at eye level (about arm’s length in front of you) in a completely dark room for about a minute, until it creates an afterimage when you close your eyes.
The initial afterimage that is produced in Tratak is due primary to retinal processes in the eye. However, if you continue to focus on this afterimage with your eyes closed, you’ll notice that it does a number of strange things.
It may change colors, move around, start flashing, or take on different shapes altogether. These more complex visual phenomena cannot be accounted for by processes in the eye alone, and similar to the hallucinations that occur after prolonged perceptual deprivation, they are believed to be driven by a number of different regions of the brain.
As I was taught it, Tratak involves gently observing this afterimage with eyes closed for as long as one can, through all of its various transformation, until it has completely disappeared.
At which point, the process is repeated (i.e., staring at the candle, closing one’s eyes, and watching the afterimage), as many times as appropriate given one’s skill and comfort level. And there seems to be opportunity in this space wedged between the observer and the observed, allowing for new ways of looking at the world and construing reality.
Though preliminary, some evidence has emerged suggesting that Tratak could help boost concentration and attention, as well as reduce anxiety, similar to other forms of meditation.
Of course, such effects aren’t necessarily surprising, considering that Tratak involves focusing on a singular point and presumably puts some distance between the observer and the observed, as one watches their mind constantly paint an ever-changing reality onto a blank visual field.
And there seems to be opportunity in this space wedged between the observer and the observed, allowing for new ways of looking at the world and construing reality.
Want to learn more about Tratak and give it a try yourself?
Watch our video that provides further details on this classic meditation technique. And as always, let us know how it goes.