The Yogini from Manila

Tratak (Candle Gazing)


We did something new today in yoga class.

Just as we thought we were going to go into Savasana (Corpse Pose), Pio made us sit in meditation pose. He gave each of us a small candle and told us we would do candle gazing. Somewhere at the back of my head, I remember reading about it in my book, The Yoga Bible. But I could not remember much of it as it did not really strike me as important at the time.

The lights were turned off after our candles were lit. We held our candle up to eye level and had to stare at the flame WITHOUT BLINKING until tears would well up.

Pio said that this boosts the melatonin in the body, allowing for restful sleep. The tears that well up are also part of the cleansing process.

Hmmmm. Intriguing!

So as I wanted to know more about this, off I went and Googled the Sanskrit term for candle gazing — “Tratak”. The article below is what I found on one site

I think I will try Tratak on my own here at home. If you try it too, let me know how it affected you.

Here’s to my restful sleep tonight!!! Zzzzzzzzzzzz…………….

P.S. One more thing….Pio taught us NOT to blow out the candle but to extinguish it by pressing the wick against an object. Something to do with fire being pure and we should not blow it out with our breath which is contaminated because in his belief, there is a god of fire within the flame.


Yoga Makes You Younger -The Third Eye and it’s effects on the pineal gland’s production of melatonin
Christian Paaske, November 24th, 2002
The pineal gland is considered one of the body’s greatest mysteries. Today we know that it is an endocrine gland which secrets the hormone melatonin. It is shaped like a pine cone and placed exactly in the middle of the brain. The french philosopher Descartes suggested that the pineal gland, or the cone gland, as he called it, was the dwelling place of the soul, and the gateway to the spiritual world. But apart from this comment, western science has mainly ignored this gland and considered it more or less useless. Since Darwin it has been described as remnicents of an eye which no longer is in use, and originates from earlier history of evolution when we were a more primitive species.It is not until the last 50 years that science has started to uncover some of the pineal glands great secrets. After seven years of age small layers of calcification appears in the gland, and makes it look like a small cone in x-rays. Because it is situated in the middle of the brain, it is used to detect tumours of the brain, because this would displace the pineal gland from it’s centre.

With the exception of the kidneys, no other place in the body receives as much supply of blood as the pineal gland, and there is several indications that this gland plays a much greater role than previously thought. New discoveries have now shown that the hormone secreted by this gland, melatonin, has several effects:

– Decreases the aging process
– Starts off puberty
– Strengthen the immune system
– Regulates body heat
– Regulates oestrogen level among woman
– Regulates sleep function

The pineal gland is light sensitive, and is one of the reasons it is part of the body’s biological clock, both in humans and animals, and has a regulating effect in sleep function. Melatonin has in fact also psychedelic effects, and can release special ecstatic and transcendental experiences, among meditators and mystics.

The mystical third eye
According to several occult traditions, the pineal gland is connected to “The Third Eye”, which is situated in the middle of the forehead, on a straight line from the pineal gland. With Shiva and The Buddha, the third eye is found described as a “shining spot” and “a flaming pearl”, symbolising unity, transcendental wisdom and spiritual consciousness.

This point is often used as point of concentration in meditation, because it is one of the places in the body where it is most easy to hold a steady focus, as well as it activates psychic energy. Concentration on this point will sooner or later give strong impressions of inner light, and is a method to get in contact with the energy dimension beyond the physical body.

In the Bible there is a saying that refers to the third eye:
“Let thine eye be single. That thy whole body shall be full of light.”
(Mark 6:22 and Luke 11:34. This is from the King James version of the Bible which was written in the time of Shakespeare. Later editions have other translations which often looses this interesting point made out by Jesus.)

The tantric yogi, Swami Satyananda gives this description of the third eye:
“This chakra is called the third eye or the command centre. It is a point in the psychic body where information from the outer world is perceived, and where the guru in more advanced forms of practice guides the student through instructions. It is the famous eye of intuition, where the psychic developed can observe everything that goes on both on the physical and psychic planes of existence.”

Melatonin and cancer
Although the pineal gland is not bigger than a pea, it is still the organ in the body producing most melatonin, even though small amounts also are being produced in the eyes and in the intestines. Normally the secretion of melatonin is low during the day, and high during the night. By exposing the body to light during the night it will decrease the melatonin production, because the eyes are neurological connected to the pineal gland.

An Australian researcher, Swami Sannyasananda writes in a research report on melatonin:

“Reduction of melatonin during the night increases the celles’ vulnerability towards cancer causing substances. It has been reported increased cancer incidents in areas with unnormally high electric power fields, which results in decreased melatonin production during the night. Melatonin is an active cancer protecting substance, which both prevents cancer and the development of cancer, and is an important part of the body’s imunesystem. It is particularly in its function as an antioxydant that melatonin has this effect. Melatonin also influences the production of T- cells which counteracts stress and is one of the imunesystems most active substances.”

Melatonin decreases with age
According to two scientists at the Macquarie University in Australia, professor Keith Cairncross and professor Arthur Everitt this gland is a pure fountain of youth. After three years of research they are convinced that the hormones secreted by the pineal gland plays a central role in the mechanisms controlling stress in primates. They presume that the reduction of melatonin with age, is a central cause for many of the diseases occurring in the elderly. They therefore suggest to give many elderly hormone supplements in the form of synthetic melatonin to counteract diseases and prolong life.

Because of melatonin’s powerful effects there is today a lot of research being done. Often this includes experiments on animals, which often does not correlate to reactions in the human body.

Yoga and melatonin
There are natural means to increase the production of melatonin, and particularly simple yoga techniques. Swami Sannyasananda by Adelaide University Medical School has through research found that the tantric yoga techniques, Alternate breathing or Nadi Shodan pranayama, and particularly Candle gazing or Tratak, has a dramatic effect on melatonin production. Tratak is concentration on an external object and in this case, the flame of a candle. Experiments on persons doing Tratak every evening before sleep showed a significant increase of melatonin.

On this background it is a highly recommended practise to do Tratak before bedtime to calm down, and secure deep sleep and a strengthening of the imunesystem, and other benefits of increased melatonin production.
The two practises are good in combination, Alternate breathing followed by Tratak takes 15 minutes. It can be used also in the morning, as well as a preparation for meditation, or as described before bedtime.

Alternate breathing
Sit in a comfortable position where you can sit with a straight back, either in a meditation pose on the floor, or on a chair.

– Close the eyes and concentrate on the spontaneous flow of air through the nostrils.
– When the breath has calmed down, place the index- and middle finger of the right hand on the third eye, 2-3 cm above the eyebrows in the middle of the forehead. Use the thumb to open and close the right nostril, and the ring finger to open and close the left nostril.
– Keep both nostrils open, and take a deep calm in breath.
– Then close the right nostril and exhale through the left.
– Now begins the alternate breathing:
– Breath slowly, deeply and without sound in through the left.
– Exhale through the right.
– Inhale through the right
– Exhale through the left.
This was one round of Alternate breathing.
If you managed without getting short of breath or feeling choked, continue another round, otherwise, take a break and breathe through both nostrils until calm.

Count the rounds, and do this for 5 minutes.

This is the first stage of this exercise, and there are many other levels. After some time you can start holding the breath, and include different ratios of counting, like in breath 1, hold 4 and exhale 2. But do not go on to higher levels before it feel comfortable and relaxed to do so. No force should be used in this practice, the approach should be gentle.

Sit in a comfortable position where you can sit with a straight back, either in a meditation pose on the floor, or on a chair. Place a burning candle appr. 30 cm from the eyes in a horizontal line.

– Close the eyes and concentrate on the spontaneous flow of air through the nostrils.
– When calm, open the eyes and gaze at the candle.
– Sit for 5-10 minutes. Try not to blink. If you can avoid blinking the mind will be calm and free of thoughts, the moment you blink, thought comes.
– Then close the eyes and concentrate on the light impression until it fades away.

There are many other forms of Tratak, using different objects of concentration. For example; place a red dot on the third eye, and sit in front of a mirror, or in front of another person also with a dot on the forehead. Do Tratak for 10 – 15 minutes.

With both practises you are in for a surprise.

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  1. sorry, 3 inches away or 3 feet away ?

    @Alvi – I would think it should be 3 feet away.

  2. Respected everyone

    For beginners practice of trataka, Start the practice with the help of clarified butter lamp & keep the lamp 3 inches away in the straight eyesight distance. You have to get benifits after continuous exercise up to 4 to 8 months.

    1) Clear eye sight with banish all eye dasesases.

    2) If continues practice your specs no. will be reduced, be patience

    3) Concentration improvement, calm mind after 8 months practice will get abnormal advatages.

  3. Respected Madam,

    By practicing shirsasan and Tratak I can reduce my specs no. ?

  4. @Alvi ji

    I dont think so..Though I read somewhere, tratak if not done correctly may harm in a way or other but what I think, all it meant if we dont sit in proper posture then it might..But do it with an intention that its curing you, your mind and helping you become more focussed. Then it definitely will.. dont have thoughts about any bad effects it might cause.. feel blessed..

    • ***HELLO, PLZ HELP ME*** an engg student and doing tratak since my school days.
      2.i have experience very good some sensetion at my backhead, that was very good feeling.and high memory etc
      3.but one day i done tratak in wrong way (i dont know it was wrong or not) i have done in following way
      3.1 i concentrated on a red point made by red pen on wall.*i think the wall was somewhat cross +the distance between me and wall was about 1.5 TO 2 feet+ it was about 2pm + i have done it about 20
      min , i get some what sweat .****then my left side start paining *it was very bad feeling*i was afraid that if i am going to mad or what* from that day if i try to concentrate on anything that made my left side of head paining.***becoz of this i can not contret on anything,even can not study properly****plz help me……..what should i do to overcome this….can i do tratak again … 2min tratak also making pain in my left side brain..plz give solution.

      • Hello, Satish. I wish I could be of more help. But I am not a tratak expert and would not attempt to give you advice. I hope someone who is used to doing tratak can come across your comment and give you better advice. Hope your pain and discomfort goes away soon.

  5. hello, i just wanna know what happens when you visual the candle flame in the middle of the 3 glands…pineal, pituitary, hypothalamus…i wanna know the significance…thanks…

  6. Respected Madam,
    My age is 52. I am practicing candle gazing for four months, daily for 15 minutes, I was told by someone to blink the eyes during meditation otherwise one will get ” ULCER” Is it right ?
    Please send me the answer as I am waiting restlessly.

  7. Hello Madam,

    I am Tripati Mahadik. Can u tell me is there any way to improve our vision.

    As i am trying to join army it is necesary to me that i have a perfect vision. Please guide me regarding that.

  8. Tratak starts with pain and never ends up if you continue with slow and steady, with this power you are able to see the other unseen levels of species( not biological species), eye power is linked to your kundilini power which is unlimited( more then a nuclear bomb). you can experiance the results only if you are trained correctly, which involves your habits ( eating( veg or non-veg, etc.).

  9. Respected Ms.
    First of all i pay my best regard to u. I want to know more about Tratak will u plz help my e-mail id is

    Thanks & regards

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