Trataka Meditation, An Anchoring Practice of Light

I was recently reminded of a beautiful practice in Ayurveda. The meditation practice is called Trataka which means “to look” or “gaze at”. This practice uses a ghee lamp to rest your gaze upon in a dimly or darkened room with only the flame of ghee in abundance. Ghee is a golden elixir of India and Ayurveda. The purest representation of joy and goodness comes from the sacred creature of the cow. Cows are representations in India of wholeness, comfort, the mother, and all-sustaining life. 

Ghee lamps are used in Hindu tradition for all sacred ceremonies, traditionally you would use a diya vessel with a little spout for the wick to sit on while the container is filled with plain ghee.

Diya Lamp

The meditation practice of Trataka is a simple silent meditation, after you light your ghee lamp focus on the light with gentle eyes for about a minute then close your eyes, uncross your legs if you are in a chair or if seated on the floor you may sit in a lotus or half lotus position. Focus on your breath and sit in silence for a 10-15 min silent meditation. If you find your mind wandering bring your attention back to the image of the ghee lamp. When you open your eyes bring your gentle gaze back to the ghee candle to revisit its golden essence, noticing how the melted ghee gleans and reflects the purity of the flame. Your practice is now complete. 

I often refer to some practices as anchors with my patients. How many anchors do you have thrown down in your life? If you imagine life as the great abyss or ocean with waves that come and go. When you throw down an anchor with a solid rope and a stepping stone fastened at the top. You can know where the next solid ground lies. The more anchors you throw down, meaning regular grounding and nourishing practices the more stable you can find yourself moving through life. The individual without any anchors may find themselves floating along grasping onto whatever is thrown their way, which may lead to substances that cause addiction or foods that are highly processed, anything that is quick and easy yet non-sustainable. Take account and self-inventory for where your anchors lay, are they intentional? Sustainable? Functional? Or are they in need of cultivation or repair? Meditation can be the perfect practice to implement if you are struggling with these questions as you are creating a solid anchor by engaging in regular meditation practice and giving your mind the space to be clear so that you may see deeper into what your needs truly are. 

Be gentle with yourself, and be kind, as you may step into your anchoring practice of light.