The Buddha offered a prescription to ease suffering called “The Eightfold Path,” which presents practices that move a person toward a life with more happiness and contentment. These eight considerations are divided into three groupings: ethical conduct (right speech, right action, and right livelihood), mental discipline (right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration), and wisdom (right thought and right view). As we are taking up the theme of “mind” this week, the second grouping gets the spotlight. Be it said, these mental disciplines are worthy of a lifetime of dedicated practice. We are merely offering an experience. Monday’s meditation was an exercise in “right mindfulness.” Today, we will focus on “right concentration.”
We’ll use a candle for this meditation. More specifically, we’ll use the candle’s flame and the sitting will be done with eyes open. So, if possible, take the time to fetch a candle and then settle into the audio introduction. Afterwards come back to these written instructions for today’s meditation:
- If it’s possible to darken your meditation space by dimming the lights or drawing the blinds, do so – that can be helpful. Make sure there’s nothing flammable around your candle and that it is in a proper holder and on a flat surface. It’s best if the flame is at eye level and about two feet away from you. Perhaps you could sit at a table for this meditation.
- Light the candle, get comfortable, and take a long slow deep breath. Allow the flame to be the main focus of your attention. Hold your eyes steady there. You will blink often and maybe tear up a bit, no worries, simply keep your gaze on the flame… and breathe.
Fire can be hypnotic, its gentle dance is mesmerizing, There’s plenty to keep the mind occupied and your interest piqued. Yet, without fail, the mind will wander. Simply redirect your attention to the flame when this happens… your eyes are already there, just gently allow the mind to join them in being present with the flame. You may find that there’s more space between your thoughts. You may find the flame so captivating that thoughts pass by unnoticed altogether and the mind left steady and concentrated. You may also find that “right concentration” gives way to a buoyant sense of openness within field of awareness. May it be so.