Gazing at the center of a candle flame to acheive meditation... or just for fun.
by Richard E Bradshaw PhD
This simple and easy candle meditation is a well-known beginners approach to meditation. It is a type of Samatha meditation, a tradition that uses focused attention to produce the calm & tranquil mind conducive to meditation. (See here for explanation of Samatha.) It is not, however only for beginners. I continue to use it occasionally after fifty years of meditational practice simply because it is fun and an easy way to relax into deeper states of mental clarity and meditation.
To practice the candle meditation, do some Hatha Yoga first to get the body relaxed and comfortable, then sit on the floor in a darkened room with a candle on the floor about three feet in front of you. You should sit in a half-lotus, full lotus, seiza position, or some other position comfortable for you that will keep your back straight without conscious effort on your part.
Focus on the heart of the candle flame for about three minutes, then lean over and blow out the candle. Then close your eyes and focus on the spot right between your eyes (the third eye).
Keep your focus on this spot and the ‘afterimage’ of the candle flame which you will see inside your mind will settle down in front of your focus.
Do not try to ‘chase’ the image of the candle flame if it is jumping around inside your mind. Just keep your focus on the center between your eyebrows until the flame comes to you, i.e., when it settles down into the third eye location inside your focus.
When it does, once again focus on the center of the candle flame in your mind until the afterimage slowly disappears. Then continue in your calm, quiet state to focus on the third eye.
The more you practice this technique, the better your visualization abilities will become and the longer the candle flame will continue to burn inside your mind.
This technique quiets the mind and leads quickly to deeper states of meditation. Practice every day and you will soon see vast improvement in your ability to concentrate and meditate. And the benefits and experiences inside meditation are beyond your wildest imaginings. For further cultivation of the ‘flame’ visualization meditation technique, see JhotiMeditation.
For further insights into meditation and its relation to the 'self' and self-actualization see: