Meditation has long been known to improve the focus of its practitioners. This was supported by a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Here the students practiced meditation leading up to taking the GRE examination. The results of the research showed that those who had practiced meditation performed better on the verbal reasoning section and that they also demonstrated improvements in working memory.
Introduction to Candle Meditation
One of the best types of meditation for improving focus is candle meditation. Candle meditation is a simple, but highly effective, form of invitation that uses a lit candle as an object of focus. Many people find that they enjoy candle meditation due to its slightly ethereal quality.
In order to practice candle meditation you will need to set aside 20 to 30 minutes where you will not be distracted. If you are just beginning with candle meditation you may find that you can’t focus or a full half hour. In this case start with a five minute candle meditation. Each day add an additional five minutes to your meditation until by the end of the week you have worked up to a half hour session. Many people with families prefer to practice candle meditation early in the morning or late at night when their children are asleep. You should also meditate somewhere you feel safe and comfortable.
Step one – Deciding what the candle represents
While the step is not compulsory many people find that they benefit from deciding what the flame of the candle represents to them. For example, the flickering flame might represent the light of knowledge. Or it may represent life and the universe. Others find that represent represents their awakened consciousness. Others believe that the lit flames represents kindness and peace in the world. Another representation is that the lit candle is welcoming and represents hospitality. Deciding what the flame will represent you can help to place you in a positive mindset before beginning your meditation.
Step two – Getting into position
Before beginning light the candle which should be placed at eye level in front of you. You can either sit on the ground, on a pillow or any chair, depending on which is most comfortable for you. Make sure that your spine is straight and that you can breathe easily. It is also important that your eyes are able to easily focus on the flame.
Step three – Relaxing your body
The next step is to relax your body. Start by concentrating on your breathing. Simply observe your breath going in and out of your body. Do not force your breathing, just watch it and feel your body relax. Next allow your mind to focus it’s attention on your toes. Release the muscles in your toes and allow them to relax. Work your way up your body through your legs to your head relaxing each part of your body as you go.
Step four – Observing the flame
Continue to breathe smoothly and easily. Watch your breathing and continue to relax. Now place your gaze onto the flame of the candle. The key to candle meditation is simply to be aware of the flame. You do not need to think or to hold a certain thought while you’re watching the flame. During your candle meditation thoughts and distractions will come into your mind. You may notice parts of your body feel awkward, itchy or ache. As you have these thoughts or feelings observe them and then allow them to drift back out of your mind. Keep returning your attention back to the candle flame and observing your breath.
Step five – Leaving the meditation
It is important that when you end your meditation that you gently re-enter the day-to-day world. After you finish your meditation allow for several minutes before you stand up. Allowing the space between the world of your meditation and your day-to-day reality is critical to enjoying the full benefits of your candle meditation.
If you practice candle meditation on a regular basis you will find that you are less distracted and more productive. Candle meditation is particularly useful for people that suffer from attention deficit disorders or obsessive-compulsive behaviour. However, candle meditation is useful to anyone who wants to destress, gain focus and awaken their higher consciousness.