Candle gazing is a great meditation technique for these short days of winter. At this time of year, lighting a candle not only brightens our room, but also, seems to make us just a little brighter on the inside.
Why candle gazing? Candle gazing helps increase our ability to focus. It can also calm the mind. The candle becomes our center of interest, our object of observation, concentrating our attentiveness to a single point in space. The flame of the candle flickers, moves, and yet remains in some ways still, always there in front of us. The subtle movement of the flame captures our attention and keeps drawing back our wandering mind to the candle. Something from deep within our humanity induces us into watch the candle – perhaps an old ancestral memory from our days of sitting around the fire. Attracted to the paradox of seeing endless movement without moving keeps our mind’s attention still. As we bring attention to the candle and nothing else, our extraneous thoughts dissolve. As new thoughts enter our mind we let go of them, returning to the ever-changing flame.
Candle Meditation One:
Make sure you do this meditation in a safe manner. As you are using a flame, make sure to keep it away from anything flammable. If possible, turn off all lights so you can concentrate on just the candle. If doing during the day you may want to pull the blinds down to create darkness.
Light your candle and place it in front of you. It is best if the candle can be placed a little higher than just on the floor. Ideally, the candle will be at eye level, so sitting in a chair and putting the candle on a table is a good option.
Take a calming breath, then another.
Breathe in through the nose, and out through the nose.
Draw your attention to the lighted candle.
Again, breathe in through the nose and out through the nose. Do this a couple of times. Take full and deep breaths, filling and emptying your lungs completely.
Watch the flame. Let your eyes be restful. Keep them still, unmoving; relaxing the muscles of your eyes – notice anything straining your eyes and try to let go of it if you can.
As you gaze, the flame may seem to go a little out of focus. This is natural. Don’t be intent on refocusing your eyes right away. Allow the eyes to readjust slowly. This is sometimes called using a soft focus. Gaze softly at the flame. Keep your attention on the flame itself – not the candlewick. If possible, focus at the very tip of the flame – where the flame ends and the smoke begins. Focus only on the flame, keeping your gaze soft. Imagine as you breath in that you are breathing in the light of the candle. Imagine as you breathe out, you are breathing out the light of the candle.
As you continue to gaze at the candle, things in the background of your vision may recede. Objects in your peripheral vision may disappear – although a small movement of the eyes is all it takes to bring them back to view. See if you are ok with your peripheral vision disappearing for a few moments. Don’t be in a rush to move your eyes to bring things back into focus.
Your thoughts may also recede. The small movements of the flame may be just enough to steady your mind and stop your mind from moving from thought to thought.
Continue for as long as you wish. When done, blow out the candle. Close your eyes and just breathe for a few moments before you go back to your day.
Let me know how candle gazing works for you. Namaste.