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Description of the Six Acts

(5) Fixing with the Eyes (Trataka)

"To fix with insistence the sight, without winking, on a minute object until the tears come to the eyes is known to the Great Teachers as Trataka." (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2, 31 and Goraksha Samhita 2, 9.)

The sight should fix a very small object such as a mustard seed or speck of dust or spot on a white wall. Trataka should be practiced secretly.

"Trataka destroys eye troubles, it prevents sleepiness and laziness. Trataka deserves to be secretly treasured in the world like the chests of gold." (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 2, 32 and Goraksha Samhita 2, 10.)

"A thing keeps its power when hidden, exposed it looses its power."

"Fixing" uses the same energy as that used for mesmerizing.

The treatises of Hatha Yoga speak of only one kind of Trataka but the Upanishads mention three different forms, the Inner, the Outer and the Intermediate Trataka.

(a) The Inner "Fixing" consists in fixing the visual field of the closed eyes between the brows. It is usually done with the six-faced (Shanmukhi) gesture. Its practice closely resembles the process used in meditation (Dhyana). In the beginning this practice may make the head ache and the pupils of the eyes restless, but after a few days, the sight again becomes steady.

(b) The Outer "Fixing" consists in fixing the sight on certain far distant objects, the moon, constellations, peaks of distant hills not snow clad, for instance; not, however, upon the sun because the nature of solar light and of sight being the same, the sun will draw away the power of the sight, and, after a few months, the eyes will grow weak. If fixing the sun has to be done, then it should be the rising sun. Fixing the center of the sun the discuss gradually appears black and surrounded by a halo.

(c) The Intermediate "Fixing" consists in concentrating the sight on the letter AUM written in ink on paper, on any spot or mark, on the image of a deity, a religious picture, on a lighted candle or the still flame of an oil lamp burning vegetable oil or cow ghee, on any object or image lit by a lamp, on the tip of one's nose or on any near object.

In the beginning the sight should not be concentrated between the brows for too long at a time; it might weaken the eye muscles and produce myopia.

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