Meditation - Tratak, Yantra and OM
Meditation is one of the five principles of yoga. It an important tool to achieve mental clarity and health. An overview of the different beginner and advanced meditation techniques will aid in choosing the right meditation exercise for you.
Tratak or steady gazing is an excellent concentration exercise. It involves alternately gazing at an object or point without blinking, then closing your eyes and visualizing the object in your mind's eye. The practice steadies the wandering mind and concentrates the attention, leading you to focus with pinpoint accuracy. Wherever the eyes go, the mind follows, so that when you fix your gaze on a single point, the mind too becomes one pointed.
The Practice of Tratak
The technique of Tratak remains much the same, whatever the target of your gaze is, though naturally you will have to adapt it slightly when meditating outdoors.
1. Place the object at eye level, three feet (90 cm) away from you.
2. First regulate your breathing, then start to gaze at the object without blinking.
3. Don't stare or gaze vacantly - just look steadily without straining.
4. After about a minute, close your eyes, and keep your inner gaze steady, visualize the object.
5. When the after-image vanishes, open your eyes and repeat.
Yantras are geometrical diagrams which serve to focus the mind. Like a mantra each yantra has a specific mystical meaning.
OM - A Powerful Symbol
A commonly used symbol to focus on while practicing Tratak is the OM symbol. To a yogi no symbol is more powerful than the syllable OM, as witnessed by these words from the Mandukya Upanishad: "OM: this eternal word is all; what was, what is and what shall be." In the Sanskrit letter the longer lower curve represents the dream state, the upper curve stands for the waking state and the curve issuing from the center symbolized deep dreamless sleep. The crescent shape stands for "maya", the veil of illusion and the dot for the transcendental state. When the individual spirit in man passes through the veil and rests in the transcendental he is liberated from the three states and their qualities.
A candle flame is the most widely used object for Tratak, as it easy to hold an after-image of the bright flame when you close your eyes. You should place the candle at eye level in a darkened, draught-free room.
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