For many of us, winter is a time to get cozy with candles. Whether you love scented candles or the glow they give off, many folks burn them throughout the winter months to bring some cheer to the dreary days.
While they literally brighten your days, they may also improve your health. Watching a burning candle for 10 minutes a day can lower stress levels and may lengthen your life.
Candle meditation is a great way to try meditation. Many people have difficulty practicing meditation, as just breathing and not thinking can be frustrating and difficult to master. Candle meditation gives you a pleasant object to focus on. Place a lit candle on a table at eye level. Lower the lights. Sit two feet away with your back straight to allow you to breathe deeply. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Then take slow deep breaths and release the tension in your body while watching the flame. Experts suggest starting with just three minutes and working up to a full 10.
By focusing on the tiny fire, you can empty your mind more easily. You can watch the flickers and different colors in the flame and feel your body and your breath without your mind wandering to the problems of your day. It helps you release harmful stress that causes long-term strain on your body.
If this sounds simple, it’s because it is! “People are so distracted,” said Nisha Saini, board-certified holistic health practitioner. “People have forgotten how to relax. When you are looking at one object, it helps you with focus and… emptying your mind.”
The reason it helps is that people aren’t good at doing nothing. But watching a candle “gives the eyes and mind a job to do,” said Pierre Couvillion, a yoga instructor and founder and director of Santosha School. “The senses are no longer on high alert for safety. The mind has a simple job to do [instead].”
While the practice is straightforward, it may have significant health impacts. A massive nine-year study found that this form of meditation caused “a 47 percent reduction in the combination of death, heart attacks, and strokes.”
Candle medication can also aid cognition in a number of ways. It may aid working and special memory along with special attention, cognitive flexibility, response inhibition and attention spans. In a study of older adults, it appeared to help overall cognitive abilities. One study found it improved sleep quality and reduced the severity of insomnia.
Many claim candle meditation is excellent for eye health. One study found it may lower intraocular pressure (IOP) in glaucoma patients and people with blood sugar concerns. However, the claims that it can treat nearsightedness are not backed by any science. And there is no proof that it will aid any other form of eye problem. Many believe it clears toxins from your eyes as you may tear up. But there is no scientific basis for that belief.
Additionally, if you have eye health concerns, you must speak to your doctor before trying candle meditation. It’s not a suitable form of meditation for people with seizure disorders, psychosis or schizophrenia. It’s also not advised for people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Trying candle gazing might be a great way to enjoy meditation. Winter is the perfect time to try, as you most likely have candles around your house. Watch a candle today and feel the stress burn away!