Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tratak


Since it's been a while since we last post (and because the last time I went to a cyber cafe I couldn't remember what I wanted to post about), I am posting on another subject as well today.

The subject is Tratak, a process which vastly improves concentration, is one of the methods of purification (that I left out in my earlier post), and is said to improve eyesight.

There are two different approaches a beginner may take and I will mention both.

1. Draw a black spot on a sheet of white paper big enough to nearly fill your field of vision. Spend a few days just staring at this and concentrating on it. You are ready to move on when you can narrow your field of vision to see only the spot. Then shrink the size of the spot. Continue doing this process until you the spot is 1 inch in diameter.

2. Choose an object of "best choice", something that you love most, that you feel no aversion to. Place it before you at a looking distance (about 3 feet in front of you while seated). Concentrate on this object.

In the above two methods, when I say concentrate, I mean that you will stare at the object and that is it. You stare at it until you feel light strain in your eyes or until the point of tears. When you feel the strain, close your eyes and visualize the object. When you are ready, open your eyes again and repeat the process.

Eventually you will move beyond circles and favourable objects to neutral objects.

That is the first step. The second step is to sit and try to draw the image of the object from memory. Close your eyes and try to visualize the object which you focused on (this does not apply to the black circle). This is called remembrance.

The third step is to assemble a group of objects and do tratak and remembrance on each one.

The fourth step is to go to a solitary, peaceful place. Sit down and think of someone who you love most. This person is already in your memory, so you can simply close your eyes and visualize them.

While visualizing and concentrating, there are two different practices. You can either attempt to have no thoughts and simply observe the object, or you can think of all attributes of the object and gain deep knowledge about it.

For instance, if you are doing tratak on a flower, you may think of its colour, its structure, the texture of the petals, but you should not be lead astray by tangents and begin thinking about bouquets, weddings, families, etc.

If you are attempting to have no thoughts, it is unadvisable to try to force thoughts out of your mind. Resistance = Persistence. Instead, gently bring your mind back to focusing on the object.

Once you have mastered tratak, you will be able to computerize your memory and be able to relive experiences that you have had in the past. Say you visit a very beautiful garden, but it will not be easy for you to return there. Then you can practice tratak on the garden and keep it in your memory. By remembrance, you can "open the key to memory", and be there whenever you please.

4 comments:

bob said...

Hey Pete! Good to hear your voice.
We're with you guys so keep these blogs coming. They're great.

Kathy said...

Hi son!! Your mother here used to practice Tratak all the time in my twenties. My yoga teacher at the time taught us to concentrate on the OM symbol. You can also chant - OM< OM. -- if I remember it means, what is, what is.

donna said...

I went to my first yoga class this fall on Monday night, but we didn't do any of this.

Peter said...

Well, I was writing a pretty long reply to your comments when the computer I was using suffered a hardware failure. Poof!

Basically:

1. Mom, cool! The Om symbol is a very common object to do tratak, but I didn't mention it since most people that read the blog won't hold any significance with it. Also, recitation of Om with the rhythm of breath is very common (and is a means of purification). Laying in savasana before sleeping and reciting it with your breath should help induce better sleep. I think Om may mean more than what you think. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aum for more details.

2. Donna, in the west we mostly practice asanas for physical exercise. Here things are much different. Asanas are 1 part of the eightfold yoga (ashtanga yoga in sanskrit) path set out by the old sage Patanjali thousands of years ago. For more information see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raja_yoga