By Sue Knorr:
Meditation is one of the key components of the Zone lifestyle. Think of it as a makeover for your brain.
Clearing your mind for just 20 minutes daily has a multitude of long-lasting benefits. The process begins with letting go of thoughts and negative emotions and creating a peaceful sense of wellbeing. The really mind-blowing (forgive the pun) aspects of meditation are its physiological benefits, which include lowering the levels of the stress hormone cortisol and prompting epigenetic changes (positive changes in gene expression). I’ll leave the science to Dr. Sears. He recently explained to a group of ZoneHealth Coaches that adding meditation to the basic Zone principles of diet, polyphenols and omega-3s from fish oil takes your experience to “the cutting edge of molecular biology”.
Now imagine yourself on vacation. Picture yourself relaxing at a ski lodge in the mountains or with friends on the beach at dusk or in your own backyard on a cool summer night. You’re sitting in front of a cozy fire staring at the flames. You quickly become lost in the flames to the point you momentarily enter your own little world, oblivious to everything around you and completely immersed in the magic of the flames. Most everyone has had this feeling.
Candle-gazing meditation, also called Trataka (in Sanskrit), takes advantage of the mesmerizing and calming effect of the burning flame. Beginners take to it readily. Many people find it easier to clear the mind when they have an object to focus on. How to Practice Candle Meditation
- Wear conformable clothing. Loosen your belt and any other constricting items.
- Turn down the lights in the room or draw the shades. This type of meditation is easier on the eyes in a room that is not brightly lit.
- Light a candle and position it at eye level or slightly lower at least 20 inches away from where you will be sitting.
- Take a seat in your favorite chair or sit cross-legged on the floor, maintaining a comfortable upright position. Let your shoulders gently relax down. No slumping.
- Simply stare at the flame. Try not to blink your eyes. If they water and distract you, it’s fine. Just blink and return your attention back to the flame.
- Allow your breath to deepen and slow.
- When thoughts pop up, consider them to be passing clouds overhead and let go of them as they drift by. Not thinking takes practice and becomes easier over time.
- As you become more proficient at keeping you eyes fixed on the flame, it’s possible to reach a deeper level of meditation and have the profound experience of feeling one with the flame.
- Stay with the flame for as long as you need to. When your candle meditation comes to an end, lie down and close your eyes for 3 to 5 minutes to give your body time to awaken.