Trataka is a meditation technique, and it is the most beautiful and ancient practice in the entire subject of yoga and deals with the different dimensions of mind.
TRATAKA CAN be called as a yogic cleansing (shodhana kriya or shatkarma) as it purifies the eyes by constant flow of tears. This can be done on external objects like gazing at the tip of the wick of a lamp flame, the clear water of a lake, the green grass or tree leaves, the clear water of a lake, the shiv linga, the crystal or even sun and moon. But the best form of trataka is to steadily gaze at the third eye (the space between the eyebrows) of the originator of yoga - Lord Siva's picture.
The first step towards trataka is controlling and understanding your mind. Trataka is of two kind - internal and external. Internal trataka is known as dharana or concentration because in this practice the eyes are closed and the mind concentrates upon some elusive element within. Whereas external trataka means fixing the eyes on some object outside. By practicing trataka one can gain the ability to see the future vision and at the physiological level, it is a wonderful practice for all eye problems.
Trataka is primarily related with the 'agya chakra' the place of wisdom. To do the trataka by the candle flame, one has to gaze at the brightest part of the candle flame as long as you can without blinking your eyes. Once the tears rolls out of your eyes and it becomes difficult for you to gaze at the flame, close your eyes and find the image of the flame at the blank space of your mind and when you try to fix that image in front of your closed eyes and after few minutes the image will start disappearing from your inner vision.
The impression of the image falls on the optic nerve and the shadow of the image falls on the eyes and then on the retina. And through this practice the centers of the brain which remain inactive in an ordinary person are awakened. Trataka brings balance between autonomus nervous system and central nervous system. It brings the one pointedness in the mind by relaxing the entire brain circuit.
Spiritually, it is a very evolved practice, Gandhari has done this practice and in this century Ramana Maharshi has performed this practice. A number of yogis in the Himalayas perform trataka and attain the higher state of mind as reported by indiainteracts.