Candle Training for Meditation
Meditation is important for attaining high levels of success among athletes. Candles were once a popular tool for developing Concentration, Jin (release of power) and Qi (energy) during martial arts training. This candle training is rarely seen today, but can add great value to your meditation practice. I will show you a few examples in this article of how candles can be used to deepen your meditation practice and fine tune your energetic coordination.
1 – Concentration Training
The most popular use of the candle in a meditation practice is to visually focus on its flame in order to enhance mental concentration. To start, sit in a dark room and watch a lit candle as you meditate. Focus on the flame; try to notice every detail of how the flame moves. Do this for at least 20 minutes. When in a high-level competition, leading a team, or looking for creative inspiration it is essential to be in the moment and notice every single detail to deliver your best response.
In the beginning you will notice that following the flame is not easy and even a few minutes can be quite challenging. Through consistent practice you will be able to develop and maintain focus and concentrate both visually and with your mind.
Once you have reached this elevated level of practice you can then place the candle on a swinging platform, which will carry the candle gently back and forth across your field of vision. Practicing the same exercise with the swinging candle will require a stronger focus, thus enhancing your ability to stay present. When it is easy to maintain focus on the swinging candle now try moving around the candle with your body using movement based meditation and again repeating the same focus.
After you have completed this concentration training you will be able to reach deeper levels of focus than before, maintain higher levels of awareness, and elevate your spirit.
2 – Jin Training
Another popular use of candle training among martial artists is Jin training (referred to as the release of power) which is focusing the movement of energy through your body and extending that power beyond. Martial artists use this training to develop powerful punches and kicks, but it can also be used in other sports that have direct contact, throw objects, or hit balls such as: golf, baseball and tennis.
To begin this candle training exercise stand about one arm’s length distance away from the candle and, with your arm extended, leave about 5 inches between your closed fist and the candle. Concentrate on generating power beyond your fist and focus on using it to extinguish the flame. If you can focus your mind and generate enough power the air influenced by your punch will put out the flame.
After you have practiced for a while, this should become fairly easy. Try to slowly lengthen the distance between your fist and the flame. If you build up the power and focus to put out the flame from one foot away your Jin practice will be quite powerful.
3 – Qi training
The use of the candle was commonly used by practitioners of the meditative arts to focus the Qi and train the concentration of the mind. When the mind is brought to a high level of focus, then Qi becomes abundant and strong.
“Simply sit in front of the candle and form your hand in the sword secret. Sword secret hand is done by extending your second and the middle finger while touching your ring finger and pinky to the thumb. This hand form will allow the Qi to extend beyond the fingers. In practice, you simply place your extended fingers in front of the flame about two inches away. Without moving your hand, coordinate the breathing and extend your Qi beyond the fingers, trying to make the flame move.”
There have been many scientific studies that indicate bioelectricity is related to Qi, and the external effects of Qi manifestation are caused by the interaction between bioelectricity and the surrounding environment. When performing the candle training you can see this when this electricity is led to the fingers and generates disturbances in the air, which causes the wind to move the candle flame. This takes a high level of focus and sometimes years to master.
Use these methods for your practice. Sometimes having different approaches, such as the exercises listed above, will help add inspiration and focus to your training. Have fun with your practice and let us know how it is working out for you.