Lighting a candle with intention is something that is done in many religions. Candles are often used to represent a higher power or the four elements. Lighting a candle can be used to begin meditation; then the candle is extinguished when the meditation draws to a close.
The act of extinguishing the candle should be part of the ritual. My teacher once gently told me this has two reasons: The first being that it signifies the end to the practice and the second to remember to extinguish the candle as to avoid burning down the house.
Bringing a candle into your meditation practice invites in ritual, but it can also provide something for you to focus your attention on. Here's one way to practice what I simply call a candle meditation:
With this meditation, you want a clear space where you can place your candle. It should be free from clutter and distractions. You don't want to worry about anything catching on fire or a pet or child knocking over the candle.
This meditation is best done seated. It's a good idea to have the candle pretty close to eye level so that you don’t find yourself bending forward to look at it. Also, let it be at least a foot away from you so that it isn’t too bright.
When you’re ready, light your candle, and as you do, create an intention for yourself for this moment. It might be something like, "I connect to the light within and around me." or "Let these breaths center and support me." or "Just be right here. Noticing. Letting the day go for these moments." You could also use just one or two words as your intention, like breathe, notice, be here.
After you light the candle, bring your gaze to it. Watch it as you breathe. Inhaling, being right here. Exhaling, watching the candle. You might want to imagine that you’re inhaling the light inside you and then exhaling it over you.
Do this for 3-5 minutes the first time you try it. Letting your gaze just soften on the candle as you breathe.
If looking at the candle is too bright, let yourself just look over it or below it. Your gaze should be soft. You can also do this with your eyes closed, imagining the candle in your mind or just keeping an awareness that it is near you.
Explore other meditations here.