I first encountered Trataka Meditation at a Satyananda Yoga Retreat at Rocklands, near Daylesford. The process involves meditating on the flame of a candle, that is around 60 cm in front of you, at eye level. With your eyes closed, and using your breath to centre and relax, open your eyes and gaze at the centre of the flame, above the wick. Gaze gently at the flame, allowing thoughts to come and go, without interaction. Ideally, do this in a darkened room, without drafts.
As I was outside at the time I was doing this practice, I noticed the flame was at times gently flickering, then it would suddenly dance madly all over the place. It occurred to me that in many ways we are like the flame. Just there, doing what we are doing, and then suddenly, in response to something ( the way the flame responded to the gentle breeze that was blowing), we react to it, without thought or control.
I guess we've all experienced times where we have been relaxed and in tune, and handle the difficulties life throws at us, easily. At other times, when we are more stressed, our response to events may trigger behaviour we later regret.
Trataka, is one way to become more centred and peaceful. It isn't my favourite type of meditation, but one I am going to commit to for a time, simply because it isn't my favourite. Sometimes doing the things we don't want to do, has benefits and rewards we don't expect.
If you'd like to find out more information on Trataka, or Rocklyn Ashram, just click on the words, to go there. The The Bihar School of Yoga, in India has published several books on meditation that give detailed instructions for practising trataka. Dharana Darshan by Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati has an entire chapter devoted to the practice. These books should be available through Rocklyn Ashram.
As a footnote, I just want to emphasise that I have no particular expertise in this style of meditation. I have just found having a meditation practice has helped me to be happier and calmer. The stillness you experience, through meditation or a breath practice, has a lot going for it.