Trataka is a yogic purification method of meditation which is said to bring energy to the third eye and promote various psychic abilities. It is said to enhance the ability to concentrate. It increases the power of memory and brings the mind to a state of awareness, attention and focus. Trataka relieves mental stress, headache, migraine, insomnia or sleeping difficulties, freedom from negative thoughts, reduces anger, sharpens eyesight, and increased brain functionality.
The practice of Trataka involves sitting in a quiet darkened room and staring at a fixed point for several minutes, breathing deeply and without blinking. By fixing the gaze the restless mind too comes to a halt. Some modern people believe that the control of the ciliary (blink) reflex stimulates the pineal gland, which Kundalini Yoga identify with the third eye. The practitioner may fix attention on a symbol or yantra, such as the Om symbol, a black dot, the image of some deity or guru, a flame, a mirror or any point, and stare at it. Most commonly used candle should be three to four feet (1 metre plus) away, the flame level with the eyes. Relax but keep the spine erect and remain wakeful and vigilant. The eyes begin to water. Some authorities recommend that the eyes should then be closed and the yogi concentrate on the after image, while others persevere with staring for 30–40 minutes.
With a renewed scientific interest in yoga, meditation, and other ancient relaxation practices, a number of studies have been conducted in the last decade on the benefits of Trataka and its effects on the body and mind. These studies found that people who practice Trataka meditation show a decrease in scores on anxiety, depression, and tension surveys after one month of regular practice, as well as decreased salivary cortisol, decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, a decrease in pulse rate, and an increase in HRV--all indicators of decreased stress--after a single session of about 30 minutes. Other research found that elderly women who did Trataka improved cognitive performance, as well as short-term memory, working memory, and selective and focused attention. It has thus been proven that Trataka is an excellent method for promoting relaxation.