Want to start meditating? Here’s why you should start with candle meditation
15th Dec 2022
Here’s everything you need to know about candle meditation from the experts, and why it’s the ideal gateway meditation technique.
If you’re one of those who have never been able to sit through a meditation session, then you may be surprised to discover that it could’ve been too advanced for you. Now, I know what you’re thinking – mediation is often depicted as sitting still, eyes closed and emptying your mind and, well, how could that be advanced?
To clear things up, we spoke to yoga teachers and pro meditators, Sinead Mooney and Rebecca Mehigan, who happily explained that there are different types of mediation, and one of the best options for beginners is candle meditation.
Like most mindful exercises, meditation gets easier after much practice – think mind memory rather than muscle memory. You have to build a ritual that triggers your mind to let go of worrisome thoughts and focus on the present moment.
What exactly is candle meditation?
“Candle meditation is one of my favourite ways to meditate, especially in winter evenings when I can get cosy,” says mindfulness expert Rebecca Mehigan.
“It’s particularly useful as a beginner, when you find your mind is very busy or have difficulty focusing. It gives you something tangible to focus on, and to keep your attention when you find your mind drifting into planning, or daydreaming, or thinking about yesterday!”
The object of this focus is the candle flame, which one gazes into during the meditation session. “Candles are very peaceful and hopeful, so using them to meditate can be lovely, particularly in times of difficulty or challenge.”
How is it different from other mediation techniques?
Candle meditation is a type of ritual, and it’s important to differentiate it from any association with structured control or action weighed down with expectation, explains Sinead Mooney, a mediation teacher and life coach.
“The purity of rituals like meditation lies in their freedom and the individual experience. I personally teach people to meditate independently for that very reason. This allows a beautiful opportunity for people to engage with themselves in a way that best works for them, so they better connect to themselves. With that in mind, a Rumi quote comes to mind.
“Do not worry if all the candles in the world flicker and die. We have the spark that starts the fire.” – Rumi
“The point of candle meditation is not the candle, it’s better connecting to the wealth of abundance already within you, but let me explain. There are many different meditation techniques and approaches to meditation. Ultimately the origins of this powerful ancient wisdom tradition that feeds all modern versions we see today are grounded in the cultivation of awareness, especially awareness of the self.”
Trataka is key
During candle meditation, the idea is to practice a specific type of concentration method – Trataka.
“Trataka is practised with eyes open, focusing on an intentional experience, and it allows the mind to calm down and focus,” says Sinead. “This involves holding your gaze on a small object for an extended time, in this instance a candle.
“It is as simple as lighting up a candle and setting an intention to focus on it. Like anything else that relates to yoga and meditation, experience is key. It’s a feeling thing, not a thinking thing – and it’s a great way to help relieve anxiety and overwhelm.”
How to practice candle meditation at home
It’s really easy to do,” says Rebecca. “I like to create a safe space where I won’t be interrupted. I get cosy, and light a candle with a calming scent – lavender or sandalwood can be really soothing.
“Then, take a few breaths, soften the body so it’s a little heavier towards the ground and give yourself the gift of time,” adds Sinead. “Effortlessly gaze at the dance of a flickering candle without expectation.”
If you struggle to sit in stillness, Rebecca recommends keeping a journal nearby to jot down any thoughts or feelings that may come up, especially in times of overwhelm or anxiousness.
“Begin with only a few minutes, and add on a minute or so as you feel like it,” says Rebecca. Over time, you’ll learn what works best for you.
“Afterwards, notice how you feel,” urges Sinead. “This is key, letting go of expectation but curiously enquiring about how you are, after engaging in some quiet time.”
Both yoga teachers highly recommend candle meditation as a good starting point for those who have a hard time finding and enjoying stillness.
“Give yourself the treat and gift of candle gazing in the busy lead-up to Christmas,” reassures Rebecca. “Your mind and body will thank you!”
This article is sponsored by BIC. The BIC Megalighter™ is available to purchase in all major retailers nationwide, including Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Centra and Woodie’s. For more information, visit mybiclighter.com.