Candle Meditation: Benefits, Safety, and Getting Started – Healthline

Candle Meditation: Benefits, Safety, and Getting Started – Healthline

Some say humans now have the attention span of a goldfish — about 8 seconds — though not everyone agrees.

Regardless, it seems fair to say that relaxation and focus are two qualities people want more of.

Can you quiet your mind and settle your nerves by focusing on a single object, namely a candle? According to the ancient technique of candle gazing meditation, the answer may be yes.

Experts and some research suggest that candle gazing meditation can help enhance cognitive function, mental health, and spiritual connectedness.

But how does it work? And is staring at a candle flame safe for your eyes? Read on to find out.

Candle gazing meditation is also known as trataka, or yogic gazing. In Sanskrit, a classical language of Southeast Asia, the word “trataka” means to look or to gaze.

“People are so distracted,” says Nisha Saini, board certified holistic health practitioner, Panchakarma specialist, and founder and CEO of New York Ayurveda & Panchakarma Center​. “People have forgotten how to relax.”

Saini says everything from technology to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has made it difficult for people to focus their minds and find a state of calm.

“When you are looking at one object, it helps you with focus and…emptying your mind,” she says.

That’s where candle meditation comes in.

History and cultural context

Candle meditation has roots in ancient Indian yoga practices. You can find early mentions of trataka in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a 15th-century Sanskrit manual on yoga.

The authors of the text instruct practitioners to be calm and “gaze steadily at a small mark, till eyes are filled with tears,” according to a 2018 research article. They believed it could help cure eye diseases. Gheranda Samhita, another Sanskrit manual, similarly describes the practice.

A group of researchers who studied the effects of yogic visual concentration on cognitive performance in 2016 noted that Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists trataka as one of six body-cleansing techniques to purify and prepare the body and mind for:

  • yoga
  • breath regulation, or pranayama
  • meditation
  • spiritual states

In Ayurveda

Ayurveda, or traditional Indian Medicine, incorporates five element theory, also a guiding principle of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Ayurvedic teachings list the five elements as:

  • akasha (space)
  • vayu (air)
  • agni (fire)
  • jala (water)
  • prithivi (earth)

Ayurveda describes three fundamental combinations of the five elements, known as doshas. These doshas govern a person’s physical and mental health, according to Pierre Couvillion, the founder and director of Santosha School, a yoga and Ayurveda wellness center and school in Indianapolis.

The doshas are:

  • Vata (space and air). This dosha governs movement. Its essential component is prana (vital energy, or movement).
  • Pitta (fire and water): This dosha governs transformation. Its essential component is called tejas (…….