The research of DMT caught my attention. That was one of our homework which we are required to do. Initially, I thought DMT is related to some D____ M____ Training. I was wrong.
DMT refers to Dimethyltryptamine and is structurally similar to melatonin. The biochemical originator to both molecules is serotonin, a key neurotransmitter whose pathways are involved in mood and targeted in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. DMT also structurally resemblances other psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin which is the active ingredient in magic mushrooms commonly found in the tourist belt of Bali.
One may think how is this related to our yoga learning?
Interestingly, yoga practitioners may have the same transcendental experience of those users of DMT and similar compounds report. Mystical union, contact with the divine, and communication with higher beings or intelligences are all themes woven throughout the path of Yoga.
Accessing higher awareness, both of the self and the spiritual world, is the primary goal of the various facets of yoga. Making use of kriya (postures), mantra (chanting), mudra (hand positions), and meditation (the stilling of the mind) yoga is said to help its practitioners achieve physical, mental and spiritual balance by activating the secretions of various glands in the body.
As we learnt from Master Ram, it is the pineal gland located in the middle of the head, occupying a masterful position in regulating human function produces melatonin, a hormone that profoundly affects us. The release is closely correlated to our sleep-wake cycle. Readily available as a sleep-aid for insomniacs, melatonin production is inhibited by light and stimulated by darkness. It peaks in the middle of the night, and more is produced in winter’s darkness. In addition to influencing sleep cycles, melatonin exerts numerous other important physiological influences, such as regulating
Pineal gland is seen as intuitive center in yoga and is commonly referred to as the “third eye” and the “crown chakra”. This centre of the body represents inner vision, intuition, dreams, and mystical / spiritual experience. There are countless reports of yoga reliably triggering spiritual experiences, sometimes in as little as 3 to 10 minutes of practice of yoga.
So what can we do to activate Pineal gland or known as the “third eye”?
Using Visualization meditation, a technique that harnesses the imagination to deal with stress and illness, improve motivation, and change negative attitudes. Through imagining sights, sounds, taste, or smell, you can positive thinking to restore and maintain good health. You are able to sharpen your focus through a mental exercise, such as controlled breathing or repeating a mantra. It’s a practice based on calm reflection.
A simple visualization technique known as Candle Gazing Meditation (TRATAKA) is an excellent introduction to the art and science of meditation. People of all ages and stress levels can immediately feel the benefits. That’s because by keeping the eyes open and having an animated object to focus on it is easier to stay focused and enter a state of pure awareness, as we aim to in transcendental meditation.
Some of the benefits associated with TRATAKA are:
- Improves vision/eyesight
- Improves concentration and memory
- Enhances patience and willpower
- Improves productivity
- Calms the mind and promoting inner peace
- Improves clarity and decision making
- Provides stress and anxiety relief
- Deepens sleep and helps sleep related disorders
- Strengthens intuition and clairvoyance
How to do Candle Gazing Meditation?
Set your space: as with any other meditation practice, the space around you is important to set the scene and get you in the zone. Dim the lights, perhaps using a himalayan salt lamp to give a warm ambience to the room. Make sure you won’t be disturbed and turn off any electronics.
- Put your candle on a surface in front of you: The candle should be around eye level so preferably use a table rather than the floor.
- Light a candle
- Sit in a comfortable position and around 1 to 1.5m away from the candle.
- Gaze at the candle flame without fidgeting or blinking. Your eyes are likely to water after some time but this is normal. Continue until you cannot physically keep your eyes open any longer.
- Finish by closing your eyes: When you close your eyes, you may see an image of the candle flame in your mind’s eye.
- Try to direct this image at your third eye chakra (the point between your eyebrows). When the image completely fades, reopen your eyes and repeat the process.
Candle gazing doesn’t have to be a complex practice, but there are definitely steps you can take to make it a more powerful and beneficial practice. Bear the following tips in mind if you’re considering a TRATAKA practice.
- It is best practiced on an empty stomach so you don’t have energy directed elsewhere (digestion)
- It works best as a night time practice, since you have more control over the lighting levels
- If you practice during the day, you might want to consider blackout curtains to completely block out all light
- Regularly trim your wick to increase the lifespan of your candle and improve the flame
- Do not strain your eyes – it is better to keep a soft gaze than to stare
- Rest your eyes after doing the meditation. Avoid straining by looking at laptops, mobile phones or watching television.
Regardless where we live, the current world is hectic and full of stress. We are bombarded with stimulus, perhaps pressured by money and job issues, insecure in our jobs, overworked and unhappy at work, constrained by the jurisdiction system and being apprehensive about the future.
TRATAKA can be one of those efficient ways to practice meditation and is a great option for those who not only struggle to stop their mind wandering but also help mentally prepare those who yearn for success as they work toward the life of their dreams.