Holiday Stress Buster

This past weekend, we had glorious weather with the temps in the mid 70’s and very low humidity, which could only mean one thing in South Florida…FALL!  You see, we don’t get to break out the sweaters and thigh high boots, (although I do give credit to those who try) for us Fall means spending more time outside at the beach or the park and not being drenched in sweat. AND it means that we decorate. Just because the leaves aren’t changing colors doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the season. 

So this weekend out came our ceramic pumpkins, Halloween decorations and left over scented candles.  I can't look at a candle without thinking of an ancient yoga technique which I realized I haven't shared with you yet.  It’s definitely something you can learn now to calm your nerves and lessen the holiday anxieties. Ya know it’s coming…

The technique is called Trataka which means “to look or to gaze.”  It’s a type of meditation which has the observer pick an object to concentrate on for some time and then that object is visualized clearly with the eyes closed, as an inner image at the center of the eyebrows.

I’ve always found that using a candle works best for me. Haven’t you ever been mesmerized by fire before?  The meditative properties the flame conjures helps this practice be one of the most effective.

Here are the five easy steps to cultivate your Trataka practice.

  1. In a dark room, light a candle and place it around 3 to 4 feet in front of you, try to have it at eye level so not to strain your neck. Maybe stack some books or set it on a low table.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position with the spine upright and the arms and shoulders relaxed. Take a few deep breathes.
  3. Gaze at the flame for as long as you can and try to focus on all of the colors, the shape of the flame, the movement or anything that stands out for you.
  4. When you're ready, close your eyes and try to picture the flame in the center of your eyebrows. Rest with that image until it fades away. 
  5. Repeat this process as many times as you like.  The more you practice, the longer you will be able to see the flame with your eyes closed.

There are many different methods of doing this meditation but I've simplified it here to ease you into it. It's a fun and easy way to start or deepen your meditation practice. 

As I mentioned before, you may want to master Trataka now so you have it down pat by the holidays. Everyone seems to have candles burning in their bathrooms during the festivities so when you need some stress relief, escape into a dark room, stare at a flame and let it melt away.