How to build concentration?
That’s a million dollar question!
Most young people, especially the school children and the college-going are so hell-bent on improving their concentration that it’s scary.
Just the other day, a student asked me, “Can I build concentration with Trataka meditation like Vivekananda did?”
Of course, Tratak can increase your concentration power like crazy.
But wait, did I hear “Trataka Meditation?”
Hey Ram! 🙁
Is Tratak Some Sort of Meditation?
Tratak Meditation, Benefits of Tratak Meditation, Tratak Concentration Meditation.
Many people use these terms while referring to Tratak. But the truth is:
Tratak is NOT Meditation
I am disappointed, like really, really disappointed.
Tratak is an ancient Indian yogic method to build concentration. And here we are, asking if it’s some meditation?
Tratak has nothing to do with meditation, dear. Nothing. Hell, there’s a world of difference between meditation and concentration.
Do you want to know?
Here it is:
Concentration is a method to fix the awareness at a certain point. When you’re concentrating, you’re aware of that point, and everything else fades (remember the Mahabharat incident when Arjun said to Guru ‘Dron’ that he could saw the eye of the bird and nothing else?) That’s concentration!
So, What’s Meditation Then?
Meditation is a different phenomenon. Believe me, it is! And you know what, the morons using “meditation”, and “concentration” in place of one another don’t know anything about either of them. No kidding.
Meditation means you’re aware of whatever is happening to you, and around you – you’re mindful of the fact that you’re the watcher, not the doer.
When you’re in a meditative state, this is what happens:
While enjoying food, you know it’s the body that eats, not you. Likewise, while walking, you stay aware that it’s the body that walks, and also, when you breathe, you know it’s the body, not you.
Meditation is the state of being aware of your body, mind, and yourself. And also the things happening around. In essence –
Meditation is a state of non-doing
Can you recall a night when you’re unable to sleep? And since you could not sleep despite being tired, you tried hard, right?
Did that help?
It did not because sleep happens when you’ve stopped trying.
Of course, you can create the right atmosphere – a cosy bed, dim lighting, soothing music, incense, etc. And that’s to it.
You cannot force sleep to happen. It does happen, though, but on its own.
Well, guess what? Meditation is somewhat similar to sleep, except that you stay awake in it. 🙂
You can “be” in meditation, but you cannot “do” it.
Because meditation means “When all the doing stops.” Trying to do meditation is like trying to get your car to a standstill by hitting the accelerator, it’s not gonna happen.
In fact, meditation is the art to go beyond mind while concentration is a technique to strengthen your mind.
The Other Three Names Used for Tratak
Different people use different terms while referring to Tratak. Some call it Tratak Sadhana (त्राटक साधना ) and Tratak Kriya (त्राटक क्रिया), and while some others address it as Tratak Vidya (त्राटक विद्या).
So, that’s that.
Since we’re clear now that Tratak is a method to improve concentration, let me explain how to use it for improving your concentration.
But hang on for a moment.
I want to raise a critical point that we, the Hindus, been missing all these years.
“What’s that?” You ask.
Well, did you notice I used the word Tratak, and not Trataka?
I did so because Trataka is not a word. It’s blasphemy.
And also, the use of an extra “a” after most of the Hindu phenomenon, and names of the Hindu gods is insulting. It is!
Does it not surprise you that westerners address Bhagwan Ram as Rama while they never address Jesus as ‘Jesusa?’
I tell you why because it’s a conspiracy to defame Hinduism and put Hindus down.
(Yeah, go ahead John, call “Ganga”, Ganges, right?) Losers!
And, it’s Vivekanand, not Vivekananda.
Do you know the irony? Hindus are the most tolerant race in the world. They respect all religions, and that’s why even the rotten ones have started believing that they are equal to Hinduism.
I mean, what the hell!
No. Just because Hindus respect all religions, it does not make rotten cults (pretending to be religions) equal to Hinduism.
Be clear about it. And also:
Don’t confuse respect with equality
An emperor can be respectful towards even a beggar, but that does not make the broke lad equal to the king. Be mindful of that.
And now, back to Tratak.
You Cannot Improve Concentration Unless …
You develop these two qualities-
Wondering how much time it takes to get successful at Tratak?
Well, building concentration takes a lot of time. And with Tratak, it might take 21 days to 6 months to achieve long-lasting and unwavering focus.
Tratak is NOT a quick fix.
It’s not like you’ve had a headache and you swallowed a pill. And within minutes you’re just fine. No. You must be determined enough with Tratak practice.
Consistency is as crucial as patience. And that’s why you must practice Tratak each day (skipping a day or two won’t make much difference, though).
You see, a stronger concentration demands regular practice. So make sure you could sit for Tratak for at least 30 minutes. If that’s not possible at the moment, put it on hold. And begin when you have that much time to spare.
Diet for Tratak
You don’t need a strict diet but yes, a light, low-fat diet can help. Simple food along with fresh fruits and vegetables would be the 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.
That’s not true.
Can you manage to practice Tratak in the mornings? Well, good for you.
But if you don’t have time in the mornings, why not practice in the evenings?
Don’t worry too much about the time of the day. Just listen to your instincts.
What the Heck is Tratak, Anyway?
Tratak is the process of gazing at a particular point – concentrating your mind on one object. Simple.
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)
No, it’s not necessary to practice all of them. Be careful if you choose to. Move to the next one when you’ve mastered the previous form. Take baby steps.
Bindu Tratak (बिंदु त्राटक )
Take an A4 size sheet.
Draw a dot with a pencil.
Remember to keep the size of the dot similar to a 25 paisa coin (or a large Bindi). Or, you can print it.
Hang the sheet on a wall and sit at a distance of about three feet-on a cotton cushion or ‘Aasan.’
Now, take three deep breaths and concentrate on that ‘Bindu’ (the dot).
Your mind shall revolt during the initial phase, and that’s natural. You see, the mind does not want to focus on one thing. And that’s the reason it wanders from point A to point B and vice versa.
But my lady, you need to be stubborn than your mind.
Start with just five minutes. And increase the time by about two minutes every time you practice until you reach thirty-two minutes.
How Can Bindu Tratak Benefit You
In addition to building an intense concentration, Bindu Tratak has many advantages. Here are some of them:
- You can stay focused on your studies for longer hours
- Controlling the mind gets more comfortable with time
- The memory gets better by the day
- You start experiencing profound mental clarity
- It helps improve your personality
Aim to practice Bindu Tratak for 32 minutes (without blinking your eyes). It’s a tough task and may take 3 to 6 months. But don’t give up. Keep practising. Soon, you’ll notice a boost in your concentration.
Shakti Chakra Tratak (शक्तिचक्र त्राटक )
You’ll need a Shakti Charka for this Tratak.
Below is the Shakti Chakra image I used to practice at in 11th standard. You can save the image on your computer. Also, you can download the Shakti Chakra image in pdf format (click on the link).
Hang the Shakti Chakra image on a wall (just like you did in Bindu Tratak).
Now, concentrate in the middle of the picture. Remember to breathe. Let go.
Earlier, you had practised focusing on the dot for 32 minutes. Now, you’re supposed to concentrate on Shakti Chakra without blinking your eyes. And believe me when I say that focusing without blinking is damn hard. It’s brutal. 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. 🙂
But here’s a catch:
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. So, it’s cool.
Just keep practising.
AgniShikha Tratak (अग्निशिखा त्राटक )
AgniShikha Tratak uses the fire element. And this form is more suitable for winters because you cannot run a fan or AC while practising this.
You’ll need a thick candle for this.
(If a candle is not available, you can use a ‘Diya’ instead).
Make sure the candle is high quality because poor quality candles release smoke.
Turn the lights off. Light the candle. Put the candle 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. Also, you may start hallucinating. Just don’t pay any attention and keep staring at the tip of the flame.
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, that’s not true. Your eyes are safe as long as you are gentle.
Chandra Tratak (चंद्र त्राटक )
The best time to practice Chandra Tratak is on, and around a full moon night.
Go to the roof of your house. Lie down on your back. 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. It might take you about 3 to 6 months to achieve that time limit. So, be patient.
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.
Surya Tratak (सूर्य त्राटक )
Surya Tratak is one of the most dangerous forms of Tratak. Proceed with EXTRA care.
Why am I saying so?
Sun is the hottest and, I guess, the brightest start in our galaxy. Even a tiny carelessness dealing with the Sun may damage your eyes beyond repair.
The best time to practice Surya Tratak is morning – at the time of sunrise. Never practice on Mid-morning or afternoon sun. Never.
Go to a park or stand on your roof. Take three deep breaths. And focus on the Sun.
Start with 5 minutes and keep increasing the time until you reach 20 minutes. Be careful not to push yourself.
Do NOT try to go beyond 20 minutes. It can be devastating for your vision.
Also, apart from the concentration power, there’s a bonus for practising Surya Tratak-
Since you’re concentrating on the King of the solar system, you’ll start feeling super-confident. Nothing comes close to the power and authority of the Sun. Remember, you become your focus.
Practice this Form of Tratak At Your Own Risk
I’ve practised all the forms except Agni Tratak (अग्नि त्राटक).
And for a good reason.
You see, this form of Tratak requires you to go deep into woods (which I find eerie and dangerous).
But if you insist, then who am I to stop you, my lord?
So, here’s 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. Breathe.
Keep staring. You may hear some abnormal sounds and may also notice some disturbing images in the fire. Fear, anxiety, or a weird restlessness may also emerge out of nowhere.
Be brave, my boy. Carry on.
Keep concentrating on the fire for as long as 32 minutes. Do I need to repeat that you must advance with patience?
I don’t recommend Agni Tratak because:
- It is performed outdoors – in a forest. Forests are for wild animals, not humans, mind you.
- The fire may attract some supernatural entities, which may be beyond human understanding and control. And I don’t think you’d want to be in such an uncomfortable, and even life-threatening situation. Would you?
So, there you go. You can increase your concentration power with Tratak.
Just be careful. Practice at a consistent pace. And when you achieve the concentration you wanted, use it with good intention.
Do you remember what uncle Ben in the movie Spider-Man had said to Peter Parker? “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!”