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Moon Gazing Meditation (Trataka)

Moon Gazing Meditation (Trataka)

You can also watch the video version on YouTube.

Learn how to do a powerful Moon Gazing meditation technique in the Trataka tradition.

Trataka played a major role in Yoga before postures and breathing exercises began to dominate the system in the early 1800’s.

Yoga before the development of the first Yoga asanas or (poses) was a solitary meditation practice performed by hermits living in the forest. Their interests and aim was towards developing concentration (Dharaha) to sharpening their minds, and physical Yoga as it existed then was only focused on meditative postures.

Trataka means fixed gazing on an object and the object you gaze upon can be just about anything, it can be a candle flame, a camp fire or a picture of a Saint or God or even your favorite Pet if it helps you to concentrate, but as a general rule a simple candle flame or dot is more effective because of their trance effect.

In this meditation, you will be gazing at the moon, and you can practice this as a full moon meditation or you can do it nightly, whenever the moon is available. You can also snap a picture of the moon so that you have something to gaze upon when the moon is not available. If you’re gazing at the photo, you can darken the room just enough so that your focus is entirely on the photo.

There’s something about the changing cycles of the moon that makes this moon gazing practice special. The cycles of the moon remind the psyche about the cycles of life. Ultimately, all experiences of phenomena can be broken down to vibration and cycles. All matter is ultimately a collection of tiny vibrations of light.

The moon itself is a powerful meditation object because of its influence on the subtle psychology of the mind and its connection with dream yoga development.

There are two things to remember. You want to breathe calmly through the nose and you also want to relax into the whole experience. Relax with the moon and allow all tension to soften as you notice it, when you’re concentrating you might notice tension that you weren’t aware of before.

External Trataka

Obviously, the first thing is to go outside to a place where you can easily see the moon.

Gaze at the moon without blinking for as long as you can. Imagine the moon as an experience connecting with you, and feel the moons rays being draw down towards you.

Allow the gaze to soften so that you increase your ability to take in the moon. Let the tension in the eyes relax. Relax into your experience of the moon and become one with the moon.

You don’t want to strain your eyes. If you feel discomfort, then it’s ok to blink the eyes and continue the practice. But don’t move the pupils.

Become one with the moon, and as you become more intimate with the experience of the moon, you are in a sense falling in love with the moon, and as lovers you begin to merge together. You become one, even though you are separated by a vast distance, and this is what concentration meditation is all about. It’s not so much about standing still and remaining focused, but more about merging in a trance like concentration of union.

And while you’re gazing, the eyes may start to water, and that’s ok. If your eyes water then close your eyes. Even if they don’t water, but you start to feel them strain from keeping them open for too long just close your eyes.

Internal Trataka

You may notice an imprint of the moon when your eyes are closed. It may be different colors than the actual moon, I know when I focus on a candle flame sometimes the impression will be this really deep purple color along with a yellow and orange impression of the actual flame.

All that’s okay. It doesn’t have to exactly match the moon, but you should experience some type of impression that came from your gazing at the moon.

So, this is your object of focus now.

With your eyes still closed, point your eyes up toward the point between the eyebrows. You may feel the sweet spot that feels just right just between the eyebrows, and keep watching that impression of the moon at that point.

The impression may start to disappear after a few moments. Open your eyes and gaze at the moon again. You have just completed one cycle, and you just repeat the process over and over again. And if you don’t see that impression when you close your eyes, that’s okay. You can focus on your breathing during that time or even a mantra, that’s fine. And when your eyes have recuperated and you’re ready to open them again, then open them and repeat the whole cycle starting with the gazing at the moon.

There is an alternative way to do this. When your eyes are closed, you actually try to recreate or visualize an image of the moon as vividly as it was when you were looking at it, and of course, you also have that impression that you’re working with as well.

Either way, whichever way you do it, the image of the moon will reconstruct itself more completely in your mind’s eye as time goes on.

That inner impression of the moon is, at least in a sense, just as real as the moon that you are gazing at with eyes open. Both of them are an experience happening, and when you practice moon gazing, you will become more aware of this inner reality over time.

If you’re a beginner, you might be able to keep your eyes open without blinking for 15 to 30 seconds, probably. After a while, you may increase this as your stamina allows. Some people will moon gaze for ten or fifteen minutes without blinking. So, that first part of that cycle is going to be longer, in that case.

And this moon gazing meditation and other Trataka meditations, are concentration meditations. That means if the mind wanders off, you go right back to the moon or its inner imprint. However, you can turn this into a mindfulness meditation if you wish to and the mindfulness has tons of benefits, so here’s what you do to do that.

When thoughts come up while you’re trying to concentrate, or emotions or something that tries to take you away from the moon or its imprint, take note of the thoughts, or just take notes of what’s happening and allow the experience to be what it is. Be the impartial observer. Focus your attention on the thinker rather than the thought. That way you are aware of yourself having thoughts, and that is totally okay, and you take note of what is happening and then you gently go back to the moon.

Bonus Candle Meditation Technique

  • Sit in a meditation pose in front of a candle. Place the candle about an arm’s length away from you with the wick of the candle at the same height as your chest. If the candle is placed too high, it can create tension at the eyebrow and the neck, or produce a burning sensation in the eyes. The flame should be still and not moving in a draft.
  • Tuck the chin and adjust the gaze so that you’re looking at the candle flame. And you want to remember that you’re keeping your spine straight. Check your posture by moving the upper body from side to side and just find the right balance so that your back feels as straight as possible, and let your shoulders and arms relax.
  • To begin close the eyes and take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself, recheck your posture while relaxing the rest of your body. Scan for any areas of tension, and relive them through conscious relaxation as you gently breathe out.
  • Open the eyes and look at the flame without blinking. The flame has three zones of color. At the base of the wick is a reddish color, in the middle it is bright white and at the tip it is slightly smoky. Concentrate on the upper part of the flame where it is brightest.
  • Close the eyes again. If the image of the flame appears within, gently concentrate on that image without creating any tension. Try not to pursue or hold onto the image, otherwise it will fade and disappear.
  • The practice time should gradually build. In the initial stages, look at the flame only for about 10-15 seconds. Slowly increase this time, so that after few mouths you can look at the flame for 1 minute and then concentrate on the inner image with closed eyes for about 4 minutes.
  • The trick in mastering Trataka lies in relaxing the eyes as much as possible – otherwise your vision will soon blurr and the eyes will flicker. Don’t worry if all you can do is 10 seconds without blinking; with time you will be able to go long periods without blinking.
  • One may also practice Trataka while looking at a white point on black paper, or at a black point on white paper. When one concentrates on a white point, one sees this as a black image when the eyes are closed and vice versa with a black point.
  • Don’t do Trataka on a candle if you have cataracts, glaucoma, myopia, astigmatism or epilepsy.

There are some reported health benefits of moon gazing. Although I cannot confirm the validity of these claims, but here are some of the reported benefits of moon gazing meditation.

Benefits of moon gazing meditation

The benefits of moon gazing meditation and Trataka in general include but are not limited to the following.

  • Relief from insomnia. Some people suggest to do Trataka meditation before you go to bed, whether it’s moon Trataka or candle Trataka, whatever it is, it may help you sleep.
  • Remarkable concentration abilities is another one, and that’s obvious, because you’re practicing concentration.
  • Another one, which cannot be verified, but there are also claims that Traraka strengthens the eye muscles and improves vision, and can improve eye problems such as nearsightedness and farsightedness.
  • Properly the most esoteric claim is that of third eye development and enhanced intuitive abilities from having the moon as your meditation object.
  • And of course there is also deep relaxation and so many other benefits that you receive from meditation, and if you add mindfulness to it, it’s even better, you get even more benefits.

Just a word of Caution, this meditation is not suitable for people with psychic problems. Those who have a tendency towards Schizophrenia or hallucinations should not practice Trataka.

There is also some concern that unbroken practice with a candle, for more than two months, may cause a permanent impression on the retina. So if you practice with a candle, and practice it every day, take a couple of weeks break from the practice every two months. Or swap to another object.

If you would like to learn more about meditation or go even deeper with your meditation journey, I offer books, articles and instructional audios about the different types of meditation, plus online meditation courses available within’s. Premium Online-Learning Academy and it would be my privilege to have you as our newest member.

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