Friday, October 7, 2011

Science Friday: What is a Flame? (video)

Wisdom Quarterly, NPR, Science Friday

Flame footage: Dale R. Tree, Tadd T. Truscott, Preston Murray, Jonathon Pendlebury.

Humans are thought to have mastered controlled fire in the middle of the Paleolithic era. Half a million years later, engineers Tadd Truscott and Dale Tree, of Brigham Young University, are trying to quantify it. Using high speed cameras and computer algorithms, they are reconstructing fire, digitally. Understanding flames better can help us use fire better, they say.

Candle Gazing Meditation

Candle gazing meditation is called trakata in Sanskrit (

There is a simple but very effective form of meditation -- staring into the center of a candle flame until the countersign is developed and the light becomes visible even when not staring at the fire. It does not involve thinking. Quite to the contrary, it involves arresting and settling the mind. Consciousness continues and in fact becomes a fuller awareness; lucidity actually increases with the cessation of discursive thought, ratiocination, and contemplation. Our natural assumption is that "our" thoughts and ideas are us. What a relief that they think themselves, follow their own course, come and go. The real relief is even temporary release from neurotic revolving in mind. Steady focusing on a flame has the power to bring this about. Of course, this is only the first step. The goal is not simply to stop the mental chatter and be serene. This meditation can be developed to absorption (first jhana). And that sets the foundation for successful insight meditation or vipassana.

() Video, music, text: Anke Moehlmann (BMP Music), Mystic Journey Vol. 1 & 2, Yoga Sunset Chill I-III,

A short Candle Meditation may inspire some to meditate with a candle. Use a non-paraffin candle free of toxic petroleum products and synthetic fragrances for best results, such as a simple oil lamp, soy candle, or this video:

It is a simple form of meditation that brings deep relaxation. And it is a fantastic way to improve concentration skills. The flame is an aid to go into a deep state of meditation. If thoughts come just let them be there watching them drifting by. Eyes may water a little, which is normal and helps clear them removing tiredness and improving eyesight.

When the eyes starts to burn, close them and visualize the flame with the third eye, the point between the eyebrows.

As a result of focusing on the flame, it feels as though that there is no distance between the eyes and flame. One might become one with the flame and enter a deep state of peace and tranquility.

Take a comfortable seat that promotes alertness, which usually means an erect but relaxed back that is not leaning on anything. Allow the eyes to relax while gazing at the flame. Breathe in and out at the center of the solar plexus. With each in and outflow of the breath, allow the entire body and mind to become more and more relaxed.

Complete the meditation by allowing a few minutes to come back to Earth. Close the eyes for a few minutes. Then slowly move head, hands, and feet before slowly standing.