“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Anne Frank
I can sit for hours by the flickering flames of a campfire. In the winter, I substitute candles in the living room, and try to get my family to dine by candlelight. I was drawn to Unitarian Universalism in part because our essential symbol is the flaming chalice, the living light of energy. This week’s spiritual practice is similar to last week’s fire ceremony, but here all we do is focus on a candle flame. Not only is the flame beautiful to watch, this is a good practice for building concentration. Your mind will wander, distracting thoughts will arise, just keep bringing your attention to the flame. Try this for five minutes at first, then build up to a longer sitting period. I prefer beeswax or soy candles to the more common tealights. Beeswax has an especially lovely smell.
If you wish to do this as a family, have a candle for each person.
Find a quiet place and dim the lights. Candle meditations work best with some darkness. Set the chalice or candle so that it is close to eye level, you don’t want to strain your neck looking too far down. Make sure it is about 50 cm away, so it isn’t too bright. Get into a comfortable seating position, whether that is on cross legged on the floor or in a comfortable chair, one that you can hold for 5 to 15 minutes.
Breathe deeply. Light the candle in silence or with words such as “I honour the light”.
Look into the flame. Breathe quietly.
If you find your mind wandering, study the flame, consider its colour shadings, explore its heat carefully with your hand. If you have a particular worry that is persistent, try to hold it lightly in your mind without focusing on it, you may find some insight as you watch the flame.
Watch the flame for at least five minutes, breathing steadily, deeply, softly. Then blow out the candle in silence or with words such as “I honour the light”.
Sit for a minute more.
If you can’t access an actual candle, this meditation video offers 10 minutes of a burning candle.