In the yogic scripture it says, “Even a glance from the eyes of a holy man can cure mental and physical imbalances.” Gazing with the eyes is recognized as a powerful technique for focusing pranic energy. The pranic energy gives life to the atom, all material, and the mind. The laws of regulation and interaction of pranic energy form the basis of most occult sciences and explain many obscure passages in the scriptures. The general technique of gazing is called Tratakam. Applying Tratakam to a particular image of a teacher is called Guru Yoga.

The stories surrounding the practice of gazing are so many that the simple truths have become obscured. If you read the old literature of yogic and mystic lore that was published around the turn of the century, there are descriptions of yogis gazing at the sun all day. This ancient literature describes a glance that hypnotizes, removing one’s will, and eyes that shine beams of light for miles. In many modem movies, the power of eye communication is used as a main technique to represent emotional states. At the base of all of this, there is an exciting and different understanding of man, energy, and the nature and function of vision.

The eyes do not act simply like a camera. Instead, they constantly scan and interpret the sensory data. Patterns and mandalas stabilize the eye’s movements. Where there is no such organization, the eye stays in motion to establish order. An iridologist can analyze your health and past record of diseases by looking at the structure and coloration of the iris. So, the eyes also reflect the internal world of your body and tensions. A spiritual man can tell how open and accomplished you are by the pranic glow from the eyes. The position and focus of the eyes is the key to different meditative states. If you focus at the tip of the nose, the brow point, or the crown of the head, different meridians and brain areas get stimulated. The eyes look in as well as out. They are doorways to the corridors of consciousness.

One of the first self-healing practices for taking care of eye problems was to gaze at the rising and setting sun. Sit straight, tune in, do a praanayam to charge the cells; and then without blinking, fix the gaze on the red-orange sphere of the sun. This is only done when the sun is within about two of its diameters from the horizon. Outside this limit, damage rather than healing can occur. As you gaze at the sun, breathe long and deep, drawing the cosmic pranic force from the sun into the eyes and optic nerve tracts. Then inhale deeply, close the eyes, and cup your palms over them. Meditate on the energy vibrating and shining in the eyes.

Another self-healing meditation uses a candle. Place the candle seven feet away so the flame is at the height of the root of the nose. Focus your eyes on the flame and see the corona of light that shines. See the area just under the hottest tip of the flame where there is a dark spot; light and dark coexisting. Meditate on that radiance for a long time (at least 31 minutes) without blinking. Then inhale deeply, close the eyelids, and put the image of the radiant light at the third eye point. Meditate at the brow with fixed concentration. This will stimulate the anterior lobes. When looking at the flame you should SEE the flame and its light without hallucination. Some people start this practice and try to use tricks of the eye to see movies in the flame. You should have the capacity to simply see what is, and the radiance of what is.

As you fix your gaze on various objects, new aspects of that object will present themselves to you. A cube at first is a block, then a many-sided figure, then a space, then a certain energy feeling, etc.  As the different facets of an object of concentration present themselves to you, you actually experience different facets of your own self. The outer object is nothing but a gateway to many facets of your self-experience. In a real sense, “you become what you meditate on.” In essence you are an unlimited potential energy. You can manifest in any direction. You can be a killer of a hero, a thief or policeman, a sinner or a saint, all facets are within you. Circumstances and habits provoke some facets to develop over others. Your meditation also alters the balance of qualities you express by identifying as them. If you identify a new quality in an object of meditation, you have contacted and brought out that quality in yourself.

For these reasons, pictures of saints and objects of inspiration have always been subjects of meditation. If you pick a saintly person and meditate to experience his qualities of humility, service, and healing; you learn to express them in yourself. But there is a level beyond this. Not all pictures have the same effect, even if the pictures are of the same person. One picture may show happiness, another sadness, and another contemplation. Meditation on each will provoke those qualities. It is extremely rare for any master to give a photo that shows neutrality and a direct stare from the eyes. This is the only type of picture suitable for Tratakam in Guru Yoga. Yogi Bhajan said it this way,

“People will enjoy beaming who have meditated on that picture of mine. You know there’s a special meditation picture; not all pictures do anything. However weird that particular picture is, sometimes you don’t like it, but that’s the only picture that works. All other pictures can do nothing. That’s the only one. What should I do? Now, I know some people complain to me, “Yogiji, your other pictures are more beautiful.” But I say I can’t help it. Sometimes non-beautiful things are required, too.”

In such a photo it is impossible to get stuck on the level of personality. In fact, since it is neutral, the photo will be both impersonal and personal. It will reflect you better than a mirror. In a mirror you can fool yourself with your own face. In the Guru Yoga photo, you cannot. In such a photo there must also be a light in the eyes of the teacher. A photo with the direct stare of neutrality can heal and give you the instant ability to contact your own high guidance.

How to Practice

We are fortunate to have such a picture of the Mahan Tantric. If it is meditated on properly and seriously, the karmas can be erased, and individual destiny expanded. To properly practice this form of Tratakam, set the photo about 3-6 feet away.* Set one or two candles in front of it so the picture is clear. The rest of the room should be dark. Sit very straight in some easy pose and cover your head and body with a meditation shawl or blanket. Sit on a sheepskin or wool blanket to insulate your auric field properly. Now tune in with “Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo.” Humble yourself and tell your mind that the higher self will guide you across the ocean of individuality into the peace of the cosmic self.

Know that you will receive guidance in all matters. Then open the eyes wide to look eye-to-eye at the picture. Draw up the lower eyelid slightly. You will feel like you do not need to blink anymore. Completely still the body. The breath will automatically become lighter and lighter. Look at the light in the eyes of the photo and travel mentally through the picture to the source of that light.

Teachers are connected by the Golden Chain. You tune into a teacher, he connects with his, who connects with his, and so on until you are linked directly with infinity. Guru Yoga allows you to ascend the Golden Chain. It is an action done with humility. Meditate from 15 minutes to 4 hours. A good time is 31 minutes. You will feel like floating out of the body. Many body changes will occur. Just remember to keep your gaze on the light of the guidance in the eyes. During the meditation, the picture may begin to move and look three dimensional. Have the picture talk and move at your command. It is just a valid trick of guidance. Mentally ask a question and listen to the answers. After the meditation, close your eyes and picture that face at the brow point and again get it to move and act for you. When this is mastered, you just meditate on the inner photo.

Nothing else has the value of this meditation. It is a must for any student teacher of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan to practice this regularly. The practice is called “mental beaming.” It gives the mind the ability to project to infinity through the creative power of the imagination. Try this practice for 40 days in the early morning before sunrise and see what effects it has on you. During this time, eat lightly, and see with new sight during the day. If you like, you can listen to the panj shabad SA TA NA MA while doing the Tratakam.

All this information just scratches the surface of technique and knowledge in Tratakam and Guru Yoga, but the technique is enough to provide an experience, and experience gives self-knowledge.

*This meditation picture is best prepared with a colored background cut to fit around Yogiji’s face. Although there are specific colors which can be used on given days of the week and for their different effects, the color orange is recommended for regular use.

Here is a link to a black and white image of the Tratakam photo.

Here is a link to a black and white image of the Tratakam photo with an orange border.

Here is a free download of “Guru Yoga and the Technology of Tratakam.

Here is a story published in a 2005 Aquarian Times article of how Yogi Bhajan first gave this meditation.