• NEED: Health, Stress Relief and Relaxation, Positive Attitude, Spiritual Development, Performance
  • LEVEL: Beginner

To the Taoist, a flower is not an object, but a living being. Gazing at it creates an energetic exchange that allows us to enter into the stream of the Tao—a state of being that can only be experienced, not sought.

What’s behind the name of this meditation practice?
A flower is used as an object of focus in this meditation.
What’s the concept?
Flower gazing meditation might be one of the most simple and sensorily rich techniques to still the mind. Like trataka, the yogic activity of focusing attention on a candle flame or symbol to create a meditative state, flower gazing circumvents the lower brain’s noisy thought loops through the eyes. Vision is our dominant sense; it accounts for two-thirds of the electrical firings in the brain and occupies half of our neural tissue. Meditation techniques like trataka and flower gazing harness the power of vision instead of repressing it. Concentrating on an object unites all that neural tissue for a common purpose, eliminating the distractions we often face in meditation.

Why a flower? Aside from the obvious appeal of absorbing ourselves in beauty, the choice is important from a Taoist perspective. A flower is a living being, not just an object. Gazing at it is an energetic exchange between living beings, and it allows us to enter into the stream of the Tao—the harmonious reality of existence that can only be experienced, not sought.
How did this meditation practice originate?
Many religions, from Christianity to Sufism, practice forms of gazing meditation. In the yogic tradition, trataka is one of the six purification techniques described in Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a fifteenth century Hindu text, to heal the body of internal disorders and ready it for elevated states of consciousness. Taoist meditation techniques are historically related to Buddhist practices. Flower gazing is a form of samatha, a calm, stabilizing form of meditation that leads to insight.
What’s unique about this meditation?
During this meditation, we become completely absorbed in the perfection of a single flower, which becomes a symbol for the perfection of life as a whole. The visual emphasis of flower gazing makes it a great choice for aesthetically minded people and creative types. It can also be done anywhere, regardless of noise or distractions; to the outside observer, someone sitting on a park bench looking at a flower is simply daydreaming. Taoist meditation practices differ from other Eastern practices in that they are much more focused on nature and the natural rhythms of the physical world.
What are its chief benefits?
Flower gazing meditation, like other forms of trataka, yields several specific benefits. It improves optic function, both external and internal—our eyesight improves as well as our ability to visualize. It develops concentration, mental resolve, and the ability to remain focused in a world of distractions. Finally, it strengthens the pineal gland—our psychic “eye”—which improves our intuition. Visually connecting with another living being can also help us to release repressed emotions, stress, and tension.
Is there evidence of its effectiveness?
Concentration-based meditation techniques show documented cognitive improvements in a range of populations. In one study, researchers recruited thirty-seven college athletic team members to participate in twelve weeks of morning candle-gazing meditation and tested them for memory and concentration abilities at various intervals. There was a significant improvement in both. Before the meditation regimen, the students solved an average of twenty problems on the concentration test, out of which seventeen were correct. After the regimen, that average rose to twenty-four problems, with correct answers for twenty-one. Only four students remembered the maximum number of items on the memory test prior to meditating. Afterward, that number increased to seventeen.
Are there any side effects or risks?
If you experience eye strain, it’s an indication that you’re concentrating too hard. Let your focus soften and absorb yourself in the flower instead of seeing it with intensity.
Are there any controversies?
How can it be learned?
This simple meditation is best learned by doing; explore your own experience in different environments.
Are there any charges for learning?
How is this meditation practiced?
The intention of flower gazing is to receive the flower through our eyes instead of seeking to take it with our vision. That means cultivating a friendly presence with it and establishing an energetic exchange. When we gaze at the flower, we are allowing its beauty to flow into us by drinking in all of its details. We feel its energy filling our cells and cultivate a sense of gratitude for everything that is happening in the moment.

For a sitting practice, choose a single flower from your vase or garden. Welcome the flower with a friendly gaze and an open heart, just like you would an old friend. Your flower is a living being just like you. Soften your gaze and let the beauty of your flower flow in through your eyes and spread to every cell of your body. End by closing your eyes and seeing if the flower still appears in your mind’s eye. Send it gratitude. Our step-by-step guided meditation is available on this page.
Can anyone practice this meditation?
Flower gazing can be practiced by anyone, and it’s an excellent way to introduce children to meditation. People with physical ailments can especially benefit from the technique, as it gives them something tangible to focus on, rather than their pain.
Who are the well-known practitioners?
The best-known teachers and authors in this field include:

Elizabeth Reninger
Is any equipment or material required for practice?
A single flower is needed for this meditation. If you have a bouquet, choose the flower you’re most drawn to and pull it out; multiple flowers are too distracting. Those who wish to combine this meditation with the benefits of chakra stimulation can choose flowers with colors that benefit a corresponding energy center. Red roses and hibiscuses, for instance, stimulate the root chakra and help clear feelings of instability and fear; bright marigolds spark creativity and confidence; and the deep indigo of hydrangeas or violets encourage the intuitive abilities of the third eye.
Flower Gazing Meditation
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