Candle gazing—the ancient meditation practice of Trataka

Candle gazing, or Trataka, is a technique used in yogic meditation practice. The word Trataka comes from Sanskrit, the ancient language of Hindu scripture meaning to look or gaze upon something.

The technique involves focussing on a single point of vision. Historically this was typically an object of worship, or perhaps a flower, a distant mountain or even just a mark on the wall. But in modern times Trataka has become associated with using a burning candle as the focal point for meditation.

This practice of ‘candle gazing’ was popularised in the 19th Century by Indian Yogi Ramalinga Swamigal. His teachings advocated the use of a lamp flame to represent the eternal power.

What are the benefits of candle gazing?

The practice of Trataka has many benefits. As a form of meditation, candle gazing can improve physical and emotional wellbeing in all the ways that you would expect. But making Trataka part of your regular yogic practice has additional health benefits including:

  • Purification of the eyes;
  • Stronger eye muscles;
  • Better eye control;
  • Improved levels of concentration;
  • Increased willpower;
  • Helps to treat depression;
  • Instils a state of calm;
  • Helps relieve insomnia;
  • Improved emotional stability.

Trataka and the third eye chakra

Making use of Trataka in your yogic meditation practice can energise the third eye chakra, or anja. This chakra is associated with wisdom and intuition—so this type of mediation practice is often thought to be the most spiritual. Traditionally it is believed to allow the yogi to perceive past, present and future with equal clarity.

How to do candle gazing meditation

There are various methods recommended and taught for Trataka. Typically the process is as follows.

  1. Choose a quiet place that is free from activity and distractions, where you will be left undisturbed. If you are meditating outside you may need to be somewhere sheltered and away from the wind. Even a slight breeze may disrupt or extinguish the candle flame.
  2. Light a candle and sit between 1-2 metres away with the flame burning at your eye level.
  3. Gaze directly at the candle and focus on the flame. Hold the flame in your vision and try not to blink.
  4. Inevitably thoughts will intrude. Acknowledge them and put them to one side. Return your focus to the flame.
  5. When your eyes begin to water, close them and concentrate on the glowing after-image of the flame and draw awareness to the anja or third eye chakra located in the forehead.
  6. Meditate here for the duration of your session.

When is the best time to practice candle gazing?

Teachings suggest that Trataka is most effective when practised consistently at sunrise or midday. However if you already have an established meditation routine then you can make candle gazing a part of that.

What type of candles are best for candle gazing?

In terms of the technique the most important element of the candle is the flame. For this almost any candle will do as long as it will burn steadily for the duration of your meditation session.

But yoga is by its very nature a holistic practice. To truly explore the benefits of Trataka and candle gazing it is important to consider factors that have implications beyond the immediate and the obvious.

The majority of shop-bought candles are made of paraffin wax. This releases volatile organic compounds and particulates into the air when burnt—similar to the chemicals found in car exhaust fumes and other types of pollution associated with fossil fuels. Paraffin wax is itself a product of the petrochemical industry and is therefore not sustainable.

A more eco-friendly alternative is to use candles made from plant-based waxes. At Lotus Scented Candles all our candles and wax melts are made with soy wax. Not only is this a totally natural and sustainable resource, but the manufacturing process does not involve any animal testing or animal-based products. It is completely vegan and planet-friendly.

Another benefit of using our soy wax candles for candle gazing meditation is the wonderful fragrances they produce. Scents can be a subtle way to enhance mood, making then a perfect complement to meditative practice. Using a scented candle as the focus for Trataka can be a really effective way to get the most from your session.

We offer candles in a range of plant-based concentrated fragrances and any of them can be used for candle gazing. However we suggest trying something from our crystal candle range which is available from our Etsy shop. To really enhance your Trataka practice you could try our Lavender scented Amethyst crystal candle which comes with its own Amethyst quartz healing crystal with energies linked to the anja third eye chakra.