The candlelight flame is an ancient Indian symbol of undivided attention. It is said that if we leave the mind to its own devices (to entropy!), the flame of attention will scatter into thousands of tiny lights pointing in thousands of different directions, leaving us directionless.
I like to think of the tiny yet strong brilliant light as the Focused Light Aiming the Mind’s Energy in one direction. And it is this brilliance that we return to and experience every morning.
Just before waking, as we discussed in the last post, the mind is processing a complex array of emotions, experiences, and ideas through movements and metaphors. The fire (or flame) of life that lives on in us, even as we are unconscious of our external world during sleep and transported to another world, rekindles its brightness and we awaken to the reality around us. Once again, we enter the world that existed just before we slipped into the mysterious world of sleep. For most of us, hopefully, it is morning – a time when the sun is rising or already shining bright – a symbol of the brilliance that illuminates our mind.
It is in this transition between sleep and awakening that we have our next chance to gather ourselves for a new day. However, if are unable to let go of the stream of thoughts from the past or overwhelming excitement or worry about the future, we float in a sea that is forever pulling us away from NOW. Most of us spend much of our time and energy dwelling in the past or on the future. And, in doing so, especially first thing in the morning, we lose our chance to recalibrate to the present, where learning takes center stage. If we pay closer attention to ourselves in the present moment, we open up to and acknowledge our feelings, thoughts, opinions, intuitions, ideas, insights, and figments of our imagination. We are left less jumbled and have greater clarity of what lies within us in this moment. And here we are…at the doorstep of an opportunity to engage with the present, as if it were our moment-to-moment companion, and all it has to offer – the discomforts, wandering thoughts, insights, exciting experiences, creativity, and gratitude among many other experiences.
What does this present-minded focus look like? I would suggest it is like the flame of a candle (see the image for this post). Its relation to single-minded attention is exemplified by the gentle flame: if you have ever lit a candle and turned it sideways, moved it side to side, or even upside down, you can clearly observe the resilience of the flame. It always moves back to center and points upward. The flame neither breaks apart, dividing itself into scattered mini-flames, nor does it point towards a new direction. It embodies everything we would like our mind to be – focused, resilient, and gritty. It’s brilliance can light up dark pathways such as confusion that hampers learning.
And there is not better time to set our mind on the path towards embodying the flame than the morning. So, here we go…bright and early :)!
Action for this post: A Two Part Candlelight Meditation
1. The first part entails spending time observing a lit up candle for about a 1-2 minutes. If you have access to a burning candle (and you are in the presence of an adult!) go ahead and light the candle and observe it.
If you don’t have access to a candle in the presence of an adult, you may also observe my picture for this post and imagine what it may do if you were watching it in person. It is very important that you take time to do this step.
2. The second part is the YouTube video below with the meditation audio. You can choose from two options: with music or without music – your choice! Take some time to adjust yourself so you are in a comfortable position, click play, and close your eyes!