Trataka is a shatkarma - the sixth one, it is a cleansing practice which teaches & promotes one pointed concentration, focus, will-power & determination.
A great way to develop these qualities in your children is to give them mandalas to 'play' with. If the children are over twelve years of age they can be meditated upon like the described process. Or more informally with younger children, with the benefits still to be gained by being coloured-in, transfered, made into stain-glass...
Trataka is a deceptively simple but powerful practice. Trataka means 'to gaze steadily at a fixed point' and there are two forms of the practice. One is 'bahiranga' or external trataka and the other is 'antaranga' or internal trataka. Bahiranga is easier to practise because one simply has to gaze at an object or symbol. However, antaranga trataka involves clear and stable inner visualisation of an object.
In the practice of trataka an object is gazed at until its subtle form manifests in front of the closed eyes. The point of concentration is usually a symbol or object which activates the inner potential and can absorb the mind. The symbol most commonly used is a candle flame, because even after the eyes are closed, the impression remains naturally for some time, and then antaranga trataka can easily be performed. The purpose of focusing the eyes on an external object is to arouse the internal vision and make it absolutely steady by stopping the eye movements.
Practise in a dark room which is free from drafts and insects - you can use a flower, a picture; mandala, saint, guru, something uplifting or place a candle at arms length in front of you with the flame at eye level - it is important that the flame does not flicker in the least - sit in a comfortable meditative pose, preferably siddhasana/siddha yoni asana and place the hands on the knees in either gyana or chin mudra - relax your whole body, close your eyes and prepare yourself as for any meditative practice -make yourself still and quiet and be prepared to keep your body perfectly still throughout the entire practice -practise kaya sthairyam for a few minutes - open your eyes and gaze at the middle portion of the flame (ideally one should focus on the red tip of the wick as it does not move due to draft) - gaze for as long as possible without blinking and without strain until the eyes begin to water or tire - you will be able to increase the time gradually with practice to ten minutes - remain the silent witness (sakshi) throughout, observing all thoughts and feeling which may arise - when you close your eyes keep them fixed an the impression in chidakasha - if the afterimage moves, bring it back to the centre and continue gazing until the impression disappears - once you can stabilise the after image, study it and look intently at its colour.
Yogic science gives as much importance to certain cleansing processes as it does to asana or pranayama. Without regular cleansing of the system one cannot gain maximum benefit from yoga practices. Without purification of the body one will not be ready for the higher practices of yoga.
Body cleansing is brought about by the practice of the shatkarmas or six purificatory techniques which are very important from the point of view of physical and mental health. These simple techniques are also highly valuable in healing internal disorders. There are six main groups of shatkarmas or yogic cleansers as follows:
1. Neti: nasal cleaning, including jala neti and sutra neti.
2. Dhauti: cleansing of the digestive tract.
3. Nauli: abdominal massage.
4. Basti: colon cleaning.
5. Kapalbhati: purification and vitalisation of the frontal lobes.
6. Trataka: blinkless gazing.
Each of these groups contains more than one practice, such as jala neti, vaman dhauti (or kunjal kriya), moola shodhana etc. They are all excellent practices designed to purify the whole body and bring about excellent health. They also bring clarity and harmony to the mind.
The first five practices are to be only to be performed when they have been taught by an expert. You need to go to an ashram where these practices are taught in a formal way by an experienced practioner. For the next course on these Hatha Yoga cleansing practices go to Satyananda Yoga here for your nearest ashram.