The focus of your meditation can be abstract and formless as in blue sky meditation. The focus of your meditation can also be a specific form such as a flower, a crystal, a flickering candle, or any other “virtuous” object.
If we discover that by acquainting our mind with a particular object our mind becomes more peaceful, this indicates that for us that object is virtuous. If the opposite happens, for us it is a non-virtuous object. Objects of meditation.
In this meditation you will be using the flame of a single candle as the “virtuous” object of your meditation. Before you begin you may want to contemplate what candlelight represents to you. For what the candlelight represents to you will become seed thoughts for your meditation.
For me a lighted candle symbolizes the light of Buddha’s teachings.
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the light of the candle with not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. — Buddha
The sun and fire as representations of primal are among the most common of all religious symbols. When enter a dark room you turn on the light to dispel the darkness and see what is in the room; to see the ‘true nature’ of the room. Ignorance is a ‘darkness’ of the mind and a candle symbolizes the Buddha’s teaching; it’s the ‘light’ of truth that dispels the darkness of ignorance. Just as a flame can pass from one candle to another, so too can the truth be given from one person to another.
Candlelight has many positive associations. Regardless of the belief systems you may adhere to from a universal perspective a lighted candle symbolizes enlightenment, awareness or the search for truth. Here is a sampling of what your lighted candle may symbolize:
This candle represents elimination of the darkness of ignorance, fear and hatred.
This candle represents the dawning of the light of understanding, empathy and compassion.
This candle represents the clarity born of patience and wisdom which dispel frustration, anger and suffering.
This candle represents the light of awakened consciousness.
This candle represents peace and serenity that radiates into the world.
This candle is a beacon of kindness and hospitality that draws others ever closer.
Preparation for Meditation
No matter which focus we choose all meditations begin with preparing for meditation as described in my earlier post. See: Tips for beginner meditators in Meditation Practice: Preparation for Beginners.
As always choose a quiet place where you can sit comfortably for 20 – 30 minutes without distractions, then light your candle.
Sitting in Candlelight
As you sit comfortably with an erect spine and eyes focused on the flame, to settle your body employ the relaxation and pacification technique you have previously learned.
First tense and then release the muscles from your toes to your head until they become relaxed and still. Take note of spots where there is tension, and smooth and calm those muscles in your imagination until they become peaceful.
Follow your breath as you gaze into the candle flame. During meditation your business is simple awareness, nothing else. No two experiences will be the same. Distracting thoughts will arise but you will not “hook” to them and follow them. Instead you will gently direct your focus back to the candle flame and following your breath.
When your mediation comes to an end rest for 3 or 4 minutes before rising. This transition time is important so do not return to daily activity suddenly, after meditating.
Regular practice of meditation will enhance your capacity to limit the production and influence of distracting thoughts. This skill could be important in conditions such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder and major depression, characterized by excessive rumination or an abnormal production of task-unrelated thoughts. Source
This is another article in a series for those who are beginning to meditate. It’s important to know what meditation is and what it isn’t, so please read the other meditation practice articles.