Quiet Mind Meditation

This is a quiet space .. designed to inspire, nurture and support your meditation practice so that you might find your own quiet mind

Friday, 25 July 2014

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Earlier this week I was sharing meditation with a lovely group of teachers at a local College .. one of the participants spoke about her own meditation practice which was Trataka Meditation.  I introduced this type of meditation in our Monday Meditation Musings : 28 June 2010

'Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  
Happiness never decreases by being shared"

Trataka (or candle flame gazing) Meditation
Today I enjoyed the beauty of a cold and wet winter day by spending time in front of an open fire. Is there anything more relaxing and settling than to succumb to the warmth, the crackle and the magical dancing flames that a fire gifts us?

This reminded me of a timeless and highly honoured meditation technique known as Trataka. This is a meditation practice famous for building concentration and comes to us from the school of Yoga. It is probably so widely accepted and practiced because of its beauty and simplicity .. it is also very effective in not only exercising our 'concentration muscle' but also for calming the mind and leading us to place of deeper silence within.

By focusing on one object (in this case the candle flame) we are aided in releasing and disconnecting from the external world.  This is one of the key challenges in practicing meditation, learning to let go of the outside world and shift inward .. this same challenge is reflected in daily life!

On a physical level this practice is also noted as being good for strengthening the eye muscles as the exercise has us focusing upon a single point; also having a very calming effect on the eyes.

You can practice trataka on many different objects, the flame is one the most popular as it produces a very clear after-image (when we close our eyes and 'hold' the image in our mind) and is therefore easier to visualize once our eyes are closed.

If you are lucky enough to find yourself in front of an open fire then this can be your object of focus. Otherwise all you need is a candle and matches (please always take extra care when around fire!).

Trataka - Instructions:

* Darken the room and light your candle ensuring it is about 3 feet away and at eye level.
* Sit up in a comfortable and relaxed position, a chair is ideal.

* Rest your hands in whatever position is comfortable, keeping your back relatively straight and body still.
* Take a few moments to just settle.
* Close your eyes and simply rest with the breathe .. observing the inhalation and exhalation, enjoy the rise and fall, the ebb and flow.
* After a few minutes of settling, open your eyes and rest your gaze steadily on the candle flame.
* Rest here as long as comfortable.
* If the eyes tire or start to produce tears, close them and open your inner awareness to the image of the candle present in the mind (visualize). In the yoga tradition you hold the image of the flame between the eyebrows, at the centre of the forehead (the trigger point of the Third Eye Chakra).
* Keep your focus gently on the image. Our level of concentration determines how long we can retain the image, and if we lose our focus or become distracted we gently note the distraction and bring to mind back to the image of the candle again.
* Once the image has faded completely, open your eyes and begin again to focus on the candle flame.
* Do not strain the eyes, just allow the eyes to take in the image of the candle in a gentle and easy openness.
* Continue this cycle for 5-10minutes (to start) and over time you can increase this to a 20 minute practice.

At the end of Trataka simply rest a while in stillness .. this is the best part!

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