Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind ~ Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra I.2
If you’re new at meditation and are struggling to keep your mind from wandering, try this exercise. The objective is to increase your concentration and give your mind something to focus on. Although a lit candle is typically used, you could use other objects as a focal point, such as a spiritual symbol or other object of significance to you.
- focuses the mind
- improves concentration
- strengthens the eye muscles
- prepares you for meditation
- taps into the ajna (third eye) chakra, associated with intuition and wisdom
Candle gazing is best practiced in a darkened room, with a lit candle at eye level that won’t be affected by a draft. Find a comfortable seat about two feet away from the candle.
You’ll perform the exercise three times. You can start at 30 seconds and build up from there in subsequent meditations. If possible, use a timer (or have someone time you) for the first round so you’ll have an idea how long 30 seconds feels like. During the second two rounds, you’ll ‘guesstimate’ 30 seconds.
During the exercise, your eyes may water or our vision may become distorted, but resist the urge to blink.
The exercise gets easier each time you practice and will help you develop internal resilience and equanimity that comes with calming the fluctuations of the mind.
Here’s how to practice candle gazing
- Gaze at your candle for 30 seconds without blinking
- Close your eyes. Focus on any after-image of the flame that may appear.
- Observe it in your mind’s eye, like a focal point for your meditative mindset.
- When you no longer see the after-image, begin your next round
- At the end of the third round, rub your hands briskly to generate some heat
- Cup your palms over your closed eyes and let them relax
Practice this daily for a week, then try meditating. Did you find it easier to slip into a meditative mindset than before?