Have you ever heard of gazing meditation?
If you haven’t, it involves focusing your mind on an object in front of you.
Gazing has been a long-practiced meditation technique. It can be done as a stand alone meditation practice or whenever you would like to settle your mind down.
While meditation is usually done with the eyes closed, this meditation is done with the eyes open, softly and gently directed toward an external object such as a flower, candle flame or a beautiful scene.
This practice can be extremely calming for the mind and can help with your ability to focus.
9 Simple Steps to Practice A Candle Gazing Meditation
Here’s how to practice gazing meditation, according to the mindfulness experts at Ornish. Keep in mind that you don’t have to use a candle, it can also be any other object, just as long as it’s not too big so you have to scan your eyes.
1) Find a comfortable steady seated pose either in a chair or on the floor.
2) Place a lit candle in front of you either at eye level or on the floor. (if you set the candle on the floor try not to let your head fall forward in an effort to see the candle. Maintain a balanced and steady seated pose)
3) Settle into your seated pose as you take several conscious, slow, deep breaths.
4) Let the eyes soften and relax as you gaze upon the candle flame. Notice any sensations you feel. Let your attention rest there for as long as feels comfortable.
5) When the eyes grow tired, gently close them and bring the image of the candle flame behind the eyes or to the point between the eyebrows.
6) Visualize the flame at that point. When the image of the flame fades, then allow the eyes to softly open again. (This may be familiar since many of us have found ourselves staring at candles or even a campfire and feeling drawn in by the sense of stillness it inspires in us.)
7) Continue the practice of gazing at the flame and then closing the eyes and holding the image behind the eyes (or the point between the eyebrows).
8) At some point you may not want to open the eyes to the external flame. At that point feel free to rest inside of yourself with the image. You may instead find that keeping the eyes fixed on the flame with out closing them is more helpful for you. You may even notice that this practice serves as a foundation for moving inward with other practices of breathing and meditation.
9) Observe how you feel. Let the practice be fluid. If it helps you in calming the mind then adopt it as your own. Play with it and find a way to use it in your own life.
It’s a rather simple technique but in essence it’s just like breathing meditation or a body scan meditation, except that it’s a different focus of attention.
According to ancient Buddhist texts, master level is achieved when you hold your focus on the object for 3 hours without getting distracted!
To begin, you can start with however long you like. Even 2 minutes can have a profound impact on the mind’s ability to get back into the present moment.