Posted at 14:00 - 18th January - Isla Macaulay
The Complete Guide To Meditating With A Candle
This guide will cover everything you need to about meditating with a candle.
We'll go from start to finish, including what candle to choose, how to set up the right environment and step-by-step routines from meditation teachers.
Using a candle to meditate has been around for centuries, it's origins could be dated back to when humans first stared into fire. To some flames can be irresistible and easily create a state of trance. We going to be using the flame of a candle to recreate this.
"A candle meditation connects us to the radiance we emanate from within. When we gaze at its flickering flame, we can say silently; I am divine illumination.” - Ora Nadrich
Let's get started.
First of all....
What Type Of Candle Should You Use
First step is making sure you pick the right candle to meditate with. Do you go scented or unscented? Pillar Or Votive? We asked 10 Meditation teachers what to go for.
Now we know a thing or two about candles. But to add a bit of extra knowledge we asked 10 meditation teachers a few questions around what type of candle they would recommend using.
Whilst your meditation session may only last a couple of minutes it's important to remember good candle etiquette.
You need to ensure the first burn is at least 1 hour, ideally 2 hours. This will ensure a full burn and create a good melt pool.
We recommend burning your candle for this long first before trying to meditate with it.
Now on to the questions....
Q.1 - Would you recommend A Scented or Unscented Candle?
Scents can play an important role in relaxing you. Essential oils, such as Lavender, are reported to have great calming affects.
4 out of 10 Meditation teachers recommended getting a candle with essential oils in them, whilst another 4 agreed that scented was better, but advised that you should choose a scent that relaxes you.
Q.2 - Should You Choose A Specific Candle Colour?
6 out of our 10 meditation teachers said that the colour of your candle doesn't matter.
Conversely, 4 said you should choose a colour, with 2 stating White or Ivory would be a good choice.
Colours are thought to be able to affect a person’s mood just as much as scent does.
Q.3 - Should I get more than one candle?
6 out of our 10 meditation teachers said one candle is enough. 3 teachers suggested trying one first and seeing how you feel, adding more if you feel it’s required.
Considering all the above, there are three candle types we would recommend for meditation.
You want to make sure the candle you use is tidy and doesn't melt wax everywhere. Also, the flame needs to be pretty visible, which could become an issue with votive candles the more you use it.
How to create the right environment.
If you want to have a successful meditation session you need to ensure you environment will allow you to. That means no distractions of any kind in your chosen room.
Now that you have your candle ready, its time to create the right environment for meditation.
Life can be super busy sometimes, with things getting in the way everyday. You may find yourself ticking off a to do list in your head with the goal of simply getting things done one after the other as quickly as you can. But with meditation, you’ll be doing the complete opposite.
Cathy Cookson, Owner of Green Room Therapy lays out how to do this: start by allowing yourself 20 minutes and allow those 20 minutes to be special. Try to pick a time when you know you will not be disturbed by anything or anyone.
To do this create a space that will enhance your Candle Gazing Meditation with these easy steps:
- 1. Turn your phone off
- 2. Find a space that feels calm in your home with as few distractions as possible.
- 3. Ensure the room can be quiet; no open windows or TV distractions for example.
- 4. Clear away any clutter that could distract you.
- 5. Put on some relaxing music (without words to distract you).
- 6. Dim or turn off the lights.
Experiment with different rooms in your house. You may be tempted to try the lounge first, but this will likely have distractions.
You may not find your best area at first, don't take this as an excuse not to try again.
CHOSE THE RIGHT CLOTHING
Make sure you feel comfortable.
Now that you have your environment set up correctly it's also important to make sure that what you are wearing is comfy and wont hinder your meditation.
In addition to creating a good environment to meditate in, you need to ensure that you are comfortable.
This means thinking about the type of clothing you are wearing. You want to avoid any tight type of clothing such as leggings and instead focus on wearing clothes that are comfy and breathable.
It's important to note that what might be comfortable for you may not be for someone else. As long as you wear clothes you are comfy and confident in you will have a good meditation.
It's best to avoid wearing any heavy types of clothing as this will distract you and weigh you down.
Your clothes should never be a hindrance or a distraction.
Alternatively, as you are in the comfort of your own home you could decide no clothes is the best option for you. We won’t judge!
It will also be a good idea to remove any jewellery that could get in the way such as bracelets or necklaces.
- Tight leggings
- Tight t-shirts
TRY A FEW DIFFERENT WAYS
How to position yourself.
There are many different positions you can try to meditate in. You may already know which pose you wish to try. If you don't this section will give you some options to chose from.
There are many ways you can position yourself to meditate. If this is your first time, it's important to know that not every position will feel comfortable for you.
It may take some experimenting before you find the position and posture you like the most.
There are 3 aspects to having a good meditation posture:
- Stable — so that your brain feels safe and is able to turn inside without distractions
- Straight — so that your body helps you be more present, focused, and alert
- Comfortable — so you can sit for longer periods of time, in a relaxed manner, without needing to move and without feeling pain.
Holding yourself in a good position will be vital for this meditation. You don't want to get cramp 5 minutes in!
NOTE: If you want to try sitting down on the floor it may be worth purchasing a meditation cushion.
Sitting on A Chair
If the thought of sitting down on the floor to try meditating doesn't sound like fun for you then try sitting in a chair. However, no slouching!
You need to make sure you place your feet firmly on the floor, aligned with your hips and knees. Your hips need to be slightly above your knees.
Don't lean up against the back rest of the chair. It may help and feel more comfortable if you put a cushion behind your back.
Sitting on The Floor
Another option to explore would be sitting on the floor. We recommend sitting as well as kneeling for 2 minutes each to see which one is more comfortable.
Once you have you favoured position you can then try this for the full meditation session knowing you should be able to remain in this position.
No matter how you sit, your spine should be as straight as possible.
If you tend to slouch forward or sway slightly backward, make sure to come back into the correct posture.
If you try kneeling, be warned, you may get pretty uncomfortable, especially if you have bad knees. You don't have to use a support, but it may be comfier if you do.
Using a support will take the pressure off your knees and ankles.
You can use a pillow, a zafu cushion turned on its side, a rolled-up blanket, or a yoga block, and place it right between the knees and under your buttocks.
Alternatively, if kneeling down doesn't sound like it for you then try simply sitting on the floor, in one of the below positions. There are many variations to simply just sitting on the floor. Again, if may take some experimenting to find the most comfortable positions for you.
If this is your first time trying to meditate, we recommend going for the "easy pose". This is simply just sitting cross legged, you may remember sitting like this when you were a kid during assembly. Just make sure to use a prop under you to elevate the hips. A pillow should do the trick.
A KEY ASPECT
Exploring Your Breath.
Breathing is very important when it comes to meditation. in this section we will explore why and ways in which you can explore your breathing in order to mediate effectively.
Breathing is considered to be the link between body, mind and spirit. Being able to understand and control your breathing will allow you to calm your mind.
Concentrating on your inhale and exhale will also help you to concentrate on the being in the present.
You'll notice in the step by step routines coming up that controlled breathing is fundamental.
Before attempting to meditate its important you get familiar with your inhalation and exhalation.
- 1. Sit in your chosen position from above.
- 2. Continue to breathe normally.
- 3. Every second or third breath increase the length of inhale and exhale by one of two seconds.
- 4. Continue with this process until you reach a comfortable maximum length of inhale. (your exhale may be longer).
- 5. When you have found this comfortable and sustainable levels continue with this length for 8-12 breathes.
- 6. After these 8-12 breathes begin to progressively shorten your inhale and exhale.
One you have found your comfortable level of a deep inhale and exhale try to remember the length. This will be the breathing format you will recreate when attempting to meditate with your candle.
THE PERFECT WAY TO START
Step By Step Meditation Rountines.
We asked two meditation teachers to give us an easy to follow routine that is perfect for beginners. Try both of these and see which one works better for you.
Our first guide comes from Sophie George, Founder of Firefly Yoga.
Find a comfortable seated position. This can be on the floor, legs crossed or legs out straight. Alternatively, you can sit on a chair or against a wall. Make sure the position is one you can sit in for at least 5 minutes.
Place the candle at eye level. Find a table at the right height so the candle is at eye level when you're sat in your comfortable position. You don't want to be looking up or down to the candle as it will strain your neck.
Helpful Hint: Don't worry about what’s in the background behind the candle once you begin to focus that will all blur and melt away.
Light the candle and return to your seated position. Take a few deep breaths in and out to ready yourself.
Step 4 - The Meditation:
This is called object focused mediation. The idea is that you will concentrate on the object then recreate it in your mind’s eye. The aim of this meditation is not only to relax but to improve your concentration and focus.
- To begin, focus on the candle. Take in its colours, shapes, shadows. Watch how the flame moves and flickers. Remember, focusing on the object doesn't mean staring at it without blinking. Look at it as you would look at any other object. Do this for 2 minutes.
- Once the two minutes of focusing are up, close your eyes for the next 2 minutes. During this time, with your eyes closed, try to recreate the candle in as much detail as you can in your mind’s eye.
Helpful Hint: Set a timer to keep you on track for 2 minutes and to stop you from being tempted to look at your phone.
- Once your two minutes of recreation are up, repeat steps A. & B. once more.
As you begin to become more confident with meditating keep adding a minute to the time.
Our second guide comes from Brooke Blocker, A Celebrity Yoga Instructor and Meditation Teacher based in New York.
1. Set up a calm, quiet, and distraction-free environment, conducive to a meditative practice.
2. Dim the lights (avoiding meditating in bright light or total darkness) and light your chosen candle.
3. Take a seated position, aligning your eyes to the level of the candle flame. Make sure that the position is a comfortable one that you will be able to maintain for a few minutes throughout your meditative state.
4. As you settle into your seat, begin to tap into the breath with slow and deep inhalations and exhalations through the nose while staring softly but intently at the candle’s flame.
5. Allow the flame and your breath to guide your awareness. Begin to truly notice the flame and the qualities of the flame—perhaps going through the senses and acknowledging the smells, sights, and sounds of the flickering glow.
6. Throughout the practice, try not to break your gaze or lose focus (but if you do it’s ok, just let your mind centre back to the present practice).
Aim for 5-15 minutes of meditation with the candle.
End by putting out the candle, signifying the conclusion of the practice.
After your meditation
After your candle gazing meditation, it will be important to take a few moments to reflect on what came up, what you sensed or felt.
As Cathy Cookson suggests "If you are unsure of the meaning or significance of what you connected to it may be worth buying a dream book. This will help you to analyse the meanings of the connections.
I always recommend The Dream Dictionary for A-Z by Theresa Cheung as this is written using a combination of psychology and spirituality so a complete viewpoint (not one or the other which can be common in such books)."
If you wish to try some other guided meditations Cathy also offers some freebies you can get by following the link below.
MAKE IT A REGULAR THING
Create & stick to a Meditation Routine.
Your life won't change if you attempt to meditate once. You need to stick at it until you start to feel you are doing it right and can start to see the benefits. As with anything it takes time.
When you start something new it’s important to set realistic expectations. If you are trying to meditate for the first time it's best to start off small and aim for 2-5 minutes for your first attempt.
You will be trying to work a muscle you've never worked before. Gradually you can build up this time once you being to feel more comfortable.
Establishing the habit of meditation is much more important than increasing the length of time spend in meditation.
Once your initial time commitment becomes habitual, you can then begin to lengthen your meditation practice.
- Link Your Meditation to a Habitual Routine
We do things in life without any afterthought. You may have a morning or evening routine you stick to without even realising.
Daily tasks such as brushing your teeth or showering are known as instrumental tasks. If you can find a way to link your meditation to one of these tasks, the effort needed to initiate the meditation session is significantly reduced.
Meditation will then become an integral part of your day.
- Add Meditation to Your Calendar
By scheduling in your meditation, you can ensure that nothing gets in the way. If you have a calendar in your house just dot down a couple of days a week with meditation or set a reminder on your phone.
- Use an App
Whilst we recommend trying to avoid using your phone there are some apps which can enhance your meditation. Do not check your emails, texts or social feeds though!
An App we recommend is the Insight Timer. This app will connect you with other people who are meditating at the same time.
Meditation Teacher Ashley Hunt shares her thoughts about creating a routine.
"Meditation doesn't have to be all about focus and discipline. It can be really enjoyable. Using a candle is a great way to mix things up and most people find it helpful as they feel like they are actually doing something. The idea of sitting completely still without a purpose is daunting for a lot of people!
When you realise that meditation is not about trying to switch off your mind or stop yourself from thinking, it becomes easier. You realise that meditation is simply just time to yourself, where you allow yourself to be in this moment.
You can release any expectations you have of yourself, any plans or agenda, and simply be present in the here and now. Start slowly with just 5 minutes a day, and don't worry if your mind wanders off - it's completely normal!
Just keep coming back to an anchor point, like a candle, whenever your mind wanders away. Try to commit to four weeks, as this is when you will really start to notice a difference.
Once you've been meditating for four weeks, you'll discover that you're not sure how you ever lived without it! "
Suggested Meditation Schedule
- Pick two days in the week to meditate
- Pick one-time frame (2, 5, 10 minutes etc)
- Pick one hour (7pm, 8pm etc)
- Meditate in the same place
If you think we have missed anything from this candle meditation guide, please leave us a comment below and we will add it in.
Alternatively, if you use this guide and find it helps please let us know we would love to hear your feedback!