“Can I build concentration with Trataka meditation just like Vivekananda did?” Recently, a student asked me this question.
Well, the answer is, “Yes, you can certainly build concentration with Tratak.”
But Wait, “Tratak Meditation?” No! It’s a Technique to Improve Concentration
Tratak Meditation, Benefits of Tratak Meditation, Tratak Concentration Meditation – I know many people use these terms while referring to Tratak for developing concentration, but let me make this clear:
There’s no such thing as Tratak Meditation
Tratak is an ancient Indian yogic method to develop concentration. And there is a hell of a difference between meditation and concentration.
Let me explain:
Concentration is a method to fix your awareness at a certain point. When you’re concentrating, you’re aware of that point and that point only. (Remember the incident from Mahabharat when Arjun had said to Guru ‘Dron’ that the only thing he could saw was the eye of the bird?)
So when you focus your awareness on one point (for example, when you focus on your studies) and that point is the only object in your consciousness, you’re practising concentration.
Meditation is Not Concentration
Meditation, on the other hand, is an entirely different phenomenon and has nothing to do with concentration. The truth is the people using the terms “meditation”, and “concentration” interchangeably know nothing about either of them.
Meditation means you’re aware of whatever is happening to you, and around you. In essence, you’re mindful of the fact that you’re the watcher, not the doer.
For example, when you enjoy food, you know it’s the body that eats, not you. Likewise, when you walk, you know it’s the body that walks, and quite similarly, when you breathe, you know it’s the body, not you.
So basically, meditation is the state of being aware of your body, mind, and yourself and also the things happening around.
Meditation is a state of non-doing
Can you recall a night when you’re unable to sleep? Since you could not sleep despite being tired, you tried hard, right?
But did that help?
It did not because sleep happens when you stop trying.
Of course, you can create the right atmosphere – a cosy bed, dim lighting, soothing music, incense, etc. And that’s it.
You need to wait for it to happen – on its own.
Well, guess what? Meditation is also kind of the same phenomenon.
You can “be” in meditation, but you cannot “do” it.
Because meditation means “When all the doing stops.”
Meditation is the art to go beyond mind while concentration is a technique to strengthen your mind.
Tratak is Also known as Tratak Sadhana, Tratak Kriya, and Tratak Vidya
Now, before I explain how you can use Tratak for concentration, I would like to raise an important point that we, the Hindus, had been missing all these years.
Did you notice that I used the word ‘Tratak’ and not Trataka?
I did so because there’s no such word as Trataka. And the use of an extra “a” after most of the Hindu phenomenon and names of the Hindu gods is insulting.
Does it not surprise you that westerners address Bhagwan Ram as Rama while they never address Jesus as ‘Jesusa?’
Beware, it’s a conspiracy to defame Hinduism and make Hindus feel as if they were nothing.
And mind you, it’s Vivekanand, not Vivekananda.
Hindus respect all religions, but that does not make them equal to Hinduism.
Don’t confuse respect with equality
Even an emperor can be respectful towards a beggar, but that doesn’t make the beggar equal to the king. Be clear about that.
(Fortunately, most Hindus have started realising the truth).
And now, back to Tratak.
Prerequisites to Improve Your Concentration With Tratak
You need to develop two qualities if you wished to have a stronger concentration
You must be wondering, “How much time does it take to get successful at Tratak?”
Well, you need to understand that building concentration takes a lot of time. It may take you anywhere from 21 days to 6 months to acquire long-lasting focus.
Tratak is not a quick fix.
It’s not like you’ve had a headache and you swallowed a pill and within minutes everything got normal. You can improve your concentration only if you’re determined.
Consistency is as remarkable as patience when it comes to concentration. And that’s why you must practice regularly (if not daily).
A higher concentration and awareness demands regular practice. So make sure you can find time for Tratak for at least 30 minutes in one sitting. If you think that’s not possible at present, put it on hold and begin when you have the time.
Tratak does not require you to follow a strict diet but yes, a light, low-fat diet would undoubtedly help. Simple home cooked food along with fresh fruits and vegetables is your best bet. Also, keep yourself hydrated so you can sit for extended periods.
Is Evening Time Suitable for Tratak?
Most of the people believe that Tratak can (and must be) done in the mornings only. While it’s true that mornings are calmer with fewer disturbances around, shortage of time in the mornings should not stop you from practising it in the evenings.
Remember that the journey towards improving your concentration is a part of personality development. And personality development is about trusting your instincts, so practice when you feel like it.
What is Tratak?
Tratak is the process of gazing at a particular point – concentrating your mind on one object, so much so that everything disappears except that point.
It has various forms:
- Bindu Tratak
- Shakti Chakra Tratak
- Agnishikha Tratak (Candle Light Tratak)
- Chandra Tratak (Moon Tratak)
- Surya Tratak (Sun Tratak)
- Agni Tratak (Fire Tratak)
It’s not necessary to practice all forms, however, be careful if you choose to do so. You should aim to move to the next one only after mastering the present one.
Take an A4 size sheet and draw a dot with a pencil, remember to keep the size of the dot similar to a 25 paisa coin (or a large Bindi). Alternatively, you can print an image of a dot with the help of your computer. Hang the sheet on a wall and sit at a distance of about 3 feet. Sit on earth on a cotton cushion or ‘Aasan.’
Take three deep breaths and concentrate on that ‘Bindu.’
Your mind shall revolt during the initial phase which is natural. The brain does not want to stay focused and wanders from point A to point B and again from point B to point A. That’s how your mind controls you and makes you lose focus.
Be a little adamant and keep focusing on the dot.
Start with 5 minutes and keep increasing the time by 2 minutes every time you practice until you reach 32 minutes.
Benefits of Bindu Tratak
In addition to building an intense concentration, Bindu Tratak, along with all the other forms has many advantages. Some of them are:
- You can stay focused on your studies for long hours
- Controlling the mind gets more comfortable with time
- The memory gets better than before
- You start experiencing profound mental clarity
- It helps improve your personality
Aim to practice this variation of Tratak for 32 minutes (without blinking your eyes). It’s an exceptionally tough task and may take 3 to 6 months. Keep practising. Soon, you’ll notice a boost in your concentration.
Shakti Chakra Tratak
For this, you’ll need an image of Shakti Chakra. Fortunately, I have my personal Shakti Chakra image I used to practice with when I was in 11th standard. You can save the image on your computer. Alternatively, you can download the Shakti Chakra image in pdf format (click on the link).
Hang this Shakti Chakra image on a wall (just like Bindu Tratak) and concentrate in the middle of the picture. Breathe normally and let go.
Earlier, you had practised focusing on the dot straight for 32 minutes. Now, you’re supposed to concentrate on Shakti Chakra without blinking your eyes. I can tell you from experience that focusing without blinking is damn hard. It’s brutal and quite straining on the eyes. But again, practice is the key. I did it, and you can do it, too.
Start with 5 minutes. Go easy and keep moving forward and within 21 days, it’ll be ‘a piece of cake’ for you.
However, be advised you may start seeing some random images appearing in the Shakti Chakra. Don’t be alarmed, that’s normal. The pictures you’re seeing may either be reflections of your past lives, or some unexpressed desires from this lifetime only.
Keep your eyes fixed on the Shakti Chakra until you reach 32 minutes without blinking, I know it sounds unrealistic, but you can do it.
This form of Tratak uses the fire element. It is more suitable for winters because you cannot run a fan or AC while practising this.
You’ll need a candle, preferably a thick one. Make sure the candle is of high quality because low-quality candles release smoke. Turn the lights off, light the candle, put in on the ground and sit about 3 feet away from it.
Take three deep breaths and concentrate on the tip of the flame.
You may notice some arbitrary images in the flame. Also, you may start experiencing some hallucinations, don’t pay attention to anything. Keep focusing on the tip. Start with 15 minutes and keep increasing the time until you reach 32 minutes (without blinking your eyes).
Note: Some people fear that staring at a candle flame may damage eyes, but the truth is your eyes are safe as long as you practise gently.
The best time to practice Chandra Tratak is on a full moon night.
Lie down on your back on the roof of your home. If that’s not possible, sit on a chair and concentrate on the Moon. Try not to blink your eyes for as long as possible and aim for 32 minutes, though it might take you about 3 to 6 months to achieve that goal.
Moon radiates peace, and by concentrating on the Moon, you’re inviting the same into your life. Staring at the moon is a surreal experience as it fills you with joy and serenity.
You need to be extra careful while practising Surya Tratak because even a little carelessness can damage your eyes beyond repair.
The best time to practice it is early in the morning, at the time of sunrise. Never practice on Mid-morning or afternoon sun because it may prove dangerous beyond imagination.
Go to a park or stand on your roof. Take three deep breaths. Concentrate on the Sun.
Start with 5 minutes and keep increasing the time until you reach 20 minutes. Be careful not to push yourself.
I’d not suggest going beyond 20 minutes. Sun is the hottest star in our solar system and forcing yourself to concentrate on the Sun beyond 20 minutes could be dangerous.
There’s an added advantage of practising Surya Tratak. Since you’re concentrating on the King of the solar system, you start feeling super-confident. Nothing comes even close to the power and authority of Sun. Remember, you become your focus.
I’ve practised all the forms except this one because it requires you to go deep into woods which I find eerie and possibly dangerous.
Below is a possible way to practice.
Go into a forest, collect some dry woods and start a fire.
Sit about 6 feet away from the fire and concentrate on the flame and try to breathe normally.
Keep staring at the fire. You may experience some abnormal sounds and may also notice some disturbing images in the light. Fear, anxiety or a weird kind of restlessness may also emerge out of nowhere.
Just carry on.
Keep concentrating on the fire for as long as 32 minutes, and again, don’t aim for 32 minutes the very first day. Move gradually.
I don’t recommend it because:
- You are supposed to perform it outdoors – in a forest. Forests are for wild animals, not humans.
- Fire may attract some supernatural powers which are beyond human understanding and control. Do you want me to tell you how uncomfortable, dangerous and even life-threatening that could be?
There you go. You can undoubtedly increase your concentration power with patience and consistency.
Practice slowly and steadily, and when you achieve the concentration you wanted, use it with good intention.
Remember: With great power comes great responsibility.