The Candle Exercise

The object of this exercise is to further increase your ability to concentrate. This time, instead of looking at an orange, you will be looking at a lighted candle.

Though any candle can be used for the exercise, a plain white, unscented candle is best, preferably in a simple brass candlestick. Do you have a leftover candle from your altar or shrine? Use it. It will add an element of sacredness to what you are about to do.

Place the candle on the table in front of you so that the flame is at eye level or below. Remove all other objects from your field of vision. Turn out any other lights in the room, close the door, and do whatever is necessary to ensure your privacy for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. Your room should be as silent as possible and free from all distractions.

Turn off your cell phone : )

Just as you did in the Orange Exercise, let your thoughts slowly come to a halt. It can also be helpful to begin with a prayer, such as the Our Father or the 23rd Psalm. Beginning with a prayer elevates your consciousness and consecrates your efforts to successfully complete the exercise.

Begin by gazing at the candle flame. Think about it. Think of its properties, the properties of light, heat, and convection. Think about how the light propagates outward into the room. Examine its color, the movements of the flame, the migration of the wax into the wick, and how the oxygen in the air fuels the combustion.

Think about how the oxygen you breathe in fuels the metabolism in the cells of your body and how the flame before you is the same flame in your cells. Think of how all life everywhere is dependent on the fire of metabolism and how this fire purges your cells of their impurities. Think about how the universe itself is alive with fire, both seen and unseen, and how that fire sustains all life.

Of course, these are just suggestions of what you might think about. Feel free to explore all of the aspects of fire that you can imagine, but keep your thoughts tethered to the candle flame in front of you.

Continue in this way for fifteen minutes. If at any time your thoughts stray, stop, and go back to the beginning.

It’s always best to keep your spiritual exercises to yourself. When you are finished, put the candle away and restore the room to the way it was before you started. And be sure to resist any temptation to tell others about the exercise, how good it is, what you are experiencing by doing it, or how you think they should do it too. Keep it to yourself. Doing this is an exercise in itself.

Do this exercise as long as it takes to become proficient at it, before moving on to the Candle Part 2.


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