Meditating can be challenging, especially if you are starting. Trying to empty your mind and shut out all distractions is difficult if you do not have a point to focus on. A lighted candle helps provide precisely that point of focus, thereby increasing your state of relaxation and ability to meditate. The candle’s sound can also offer a point for your ears to focus and thereby help shut out distracting background noise. Altogether, using a candle (or a few candles) to help you meditate will improve your outcome and the beneficial effects of meditation.
There is a type of meditation called Trataka that is a candle gazing meditation. It is a form of hatha yoga, surprisingly, so feel free to pull on your yoga pants for this one. Candle gazing meditation, or Trataka sadhana, is believed to help with spiritual healing and advancement. You do this activity with open eyes (because we focus on the flame) instead of closing them. It prevents our minds from wandering. As you concentrate on the graceful movement of the flame, your intrusive thoughts drift away, and you can fully enter a meditative state.
If booking a visit to a spa is not something you can do right now – whether because of financial issues, time constraints, or a global pandemic – you can quickly turn your bathroom into a spa-like oasis with just a few lighted candles. Place some lighted candles around the bathtub. Make sure you put them in a position where they will not fall over because the last thing you want is burns on your skin or a fire in your bathroom!
Run a warm bath, turn off the lights, and turn on a lamp. Alternatively, better yet, soak in the light from your beautiful candles. Voila, instant spa. If you are lighting more than one candle, it’s best to make sure they are all of the same scent or unscented, or the smells may become too overwhelming. If you have unscented candles but want a hint of fragrance, add a few drops of lavender, vanilla, or citrus essential oil to your candle or candle holder. The heat will slowly release the scent without allowing it to overpower you.
Looking At A Candle Flame Can Heighten Self-Awareness
The beneficial effects of candles go beyond helping you relax and improve your self-awareness as you reflect inwards over time. Self-awareness refers to your ability to be mindful of your mental state, actions, emotions, and motives for doing the things you do. It allows you to assess your behavior needs and wants objectively. Heightened self-awareness improves your interactions with other people, your interpersonal relationships, and your relationship with yourself. This type of self-awareness could also potentially reduce anxiety and improve mental and emotional stability.
The relaxed brain waves induced by looking at a burning candle are responsible for your self-awareness. Maintaining a calm mental state, free from stress and anxiety, boosts every aspect of brain activity, and looking at lighted candles is a shortcut to getting there. Candles come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. However, when you are trying to relax, focus on neutral hues for candles. They serve as a focal point rather than a distraction or decor piece in that case.
Watching television, working on the computer, and scrolling through images on your smartphone bombard your brain with a high-intensity light, often referred to as “blue light.” It is the same with fluorescent lights (how many disturbing scenes in movies involve fluorescent lights?). Over time, this light can cause anxiety and a more deprived mental state. Though we may need these lights for our daily functionality and productivity, we also need a break from them to maintain our health and sanity. Low light helps induce a relaxed mental state, so turn off the lights in your house and light a few candles. Maybe turn on a low-level lamp if the candles’ glow is not enough for you to see. In just a few minutes, your brain waves will start to slow down, and you will feel calmer.
If you are interested in the science of it, we will explain it briefly. Looking at a candle flame allows our brain to shift from a beta brainwave to an alpha brainwave state. That means we shift gears from alertness and reactivity into relaxation and creativity. While we need both states for a healthy brain function, we often forget to allow ourselves to slip into that alpha brainwave state. Alpha brainwaves then shift into theta brainwaves, which is where we can meditate. Yay! All of this happens within a few minutes, and you have earned that!
You might be tempted to believe that anxiety leads to more energy and relaxation leads to less energy, but in fact, the opposite is true. In actuality, relaxation ultimately leads to higher energy levels. The brain works on more optimal wavelengths to think through what you are doing and why you are doing it. With more self-awareness, you can better focus on the task at hand and see it through to completion. Moreover, you just may find that you have the energy to exercise – more than you do when you are anxious.
Coming out of a relaxed state, you may feel more highly motivated, energized, and ready to face whatever tasks may lay ahead of you. Incorporating a relaxation session may not seem intuitive at first – we all lead busy lives and may not have much free time to “waste” on meditating or relaxing. However, it is an integral part of leading a healthy, balanced life. Stress decreases your energy to engage in meaningful and productive tasks; people who deal with chronic anxiety may run around continuously, but they accomplish very little. So the next time you feel overwhelmed and overworked, take five minutes to light a candle and zone out – it may do more good than you realize.
You probably realize that you are more distracted when you feel anxious and have a more challenging time falling asleep. It is hard to quell your racing thoughts, especially at night. You may be worried about everything that you need to get done or about upcoming events that you have little control over. As a result, falling asleep takes longer, and you don’t stay asleep as you should. Insomnia and anxiety are often inextricably tied together, and for logical reasons! Stress and anxiety take a toll on your body. When you are stressed, your body releases hormones, like adrenaline, to boost your alertness and increase your heart rate. These hormones also lead to difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking up during the night, waking up early, and fatigue due to not resting well.
Relaxation, on the other hand, leads to much better quality sleep. You are aware of what you cannot control and less worried about those things, and while you are aware of things that you need to do, you are not so stressed. You fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer, and the overall quality of your sleep is much improved. Some techniques you might try to train your body to relax and rest better include breathing techniques, guided imagery, and progressive relaxation. Learning more about these relaxation methods is a worthy investment in your health and mental well-being!
Another Benefit Of Looking At A Candle Flame Is Improved Mood
The benefits of candles are immense – they can even help brighten your mood! Think about your overall perspective when you feel anxious and uptight. You are probably easily irritated and more prone to angry outbursts than when you are relaxed and calm. The brain functions that make you feel calm are also associated with an improved mood. So if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or any other mood disorders, or if you just want to feel all-around better even when you don’t necessarily feel bad, try lighting some candles and looking at them as they burn.
Though we will discuss the difference the scent of a candle can make later on in this article, let’s touch on that briefly. When you inhale a particular fragrance, the neurological effect of that can also alter your mood. The triggered area in your brain is associated with emotions, and it can easily soothe or excite you, depending on which memories are tied to that scent. Believe it or not, this is based on research conducted by the Sense of Smell Institute through the Fragrance Foundation. Isn’t it fun to know that exists?
So much of your body’s health is dependent upon your mental state and emotional health. When your mental state is weak – you are anxious, sleepless, and depressed – you are more likely to get sick, whether or not you are eating healthy foods. However, you are more likely to eat poorly when you feel unwell, as no one wants to cook a full meal when they feel awful. Fatigue and anxiety lead to poor health, which can then cause a vicious cycle with your health as it snowballs.
The improved mental and emotional state that comes from burning candles can improve your body’s immune response. Your immune system is more prepared to fight off invaders, and as a bonus, you are more likely to get more and better sleep, eat healthier foods, and get outside and exercise. Your home feels happier, cozier, and more relaxed, and as a result, you will feel like a more balanced person. If you are not familiar with the concept of Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), it is the feeling of coziness and contentment one feels in their home. It is a Danish concept that is gaining trendiness in the decor world, and some warm candles are a great way to achieve Hygge.
In addition to the candle flame itself having immense benefits to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being, scented candles can add a bonus. Sometimes the scent may remind you of a pleasant experience in the past and trigger endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. Sometimes the smell itself merely is pleasing and improves your environment. Furthermore, when the aroma comes from essential oils, you get an added benefit of the essential oils’ properties. Depending on the essential oil, those properties can include relaxation, increased mental clarity and alertness, and many more.
As we discussed, research has proven that different scents can have other effects on your emotional and physical state. For example, lavender is a relaxing scent, while peppermint and rosemary are more energizing, enhance focus, and boost concentration. If you have to focus on a task, cinnamon candles can help with mental clarity. Orange and citrus scents reduce stress, promote positivity, and elevate cheerfulness. Apples can control anxiety, and green apples specifically can help with migraines! Vanilla is a joyful, sexy scent – light that one up when you feel like snuggling up with your special someone. Jasmine scented candles can help when you’re feeling a bit blue – the list goes on and on.
Some essential oils are best applied directly to the skin, while others are most effective when they are diffused throughout a room. Some essential oils should not be applied to the skin and can harm if they are not diluted first, like bay, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, or thyme. Other oils are perfectly fine to be applied directly on the skin. For example, clove essential oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which are best applied to the skin. Always conduct a patch test and read instructions! For a better – and safer – solution, you could simply diffuse your essential oils.
Lavender helps induce a relaxed state, and its effects can be more pronounced when it is diffused. A diffuser can undoubtedly be beneficial in this regard, but candles can also help diffuse essential oils. If there is a specific health benefit you are looking for, consider candles infused with a particular essential oil, or squeeze a few oil drops onto the candle or into its holder. The warmth will slowly diffuse the scent and allow you to bask in the scent without it getting too intense.
Cypress essential oil performs many of the same functions as medications, including medications intended to treat both psychiatric and physiological ailments. It has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, and it is gathered from the needle-like twigs, stems, and leaves of the cypress tree, which grows along the Mississippi River. To best utilize cypress oil, mix it with a carrier oil like almond oil before applying it to your skin (as long as you are not allergic to it). Then, add a few drops of the diluted oil mixture to your bathwater. You can drop a few beads of oil into a candle or candle holder. Alternatively, use it in your diffuser, or add it to your homemade soap, cleaning supplies, deodorant, or candles.
On a physical level, cypress oil has many health benefits like helping the immune system fight off infections, removing toxins from the body, and aiding the respiratory system to get appropriate oxygen levels into the lungs. It can also be used to help with coughing, hemorrhoids, warts, cuts, wounds, and infections, pimples and acne, varicose veins, muscle pain and soreness, cellulite, and body odor. On a psychological level, it decreases nervousness, stress, and anxiety while boosting confidence. In short, it helps heal both mind and body, so what more could you want?
People who have experienced trauma most often will need emotional support to help guide them into recovery. They also need help with calming down anxious brains that are wired to respond to ordinary stimuli as if they are dangerous. This “fight or flight” reaction is not always a rational response – it is reacting to something our brain perceives as a danger, even if that is as simple as social interaction or an unpleasant task. There are many coping mechanisms available; we just have to find the ones that work for us. That may involve some trial and error, but it is worth it.
Vetiver oil, also known as khus oil, can help reduce these symptoms associated with trauma. It is extracted from the similarly named plant – a green clump of grass that can grow up to five feet or more. It is quite fragrant, and its scent is often used in men’s cologne. Holistically, it is used for its soothing and grounding characteristics. It can help people feel calmer, more tranquil, and more in control of their emotions. It can also help stabilize the mood while increasing self-awareness. Someone dealing with trauma who already has a meditation routine may want to consider including candles infused with vetiver oil or drop a bit of vetiver oil into their candles or diffuser while meditating.
During the spring, you may struggle with seasonal allergies that keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Furthermore, during the cold winter months, you may be worn down by respiratory issues, ranging from colds to respiratory infections (including sinus infections and bronchitis) to the dreaded flu. Eucalyptus oil can help treat respiratory ailments while also purifying the body of toxins that can make symptoms worse. If you are looking for relief from short-term or even chronic respiratory issues, consider burning some candles that are made with eucalyptus essential oil. It may not cure everything, but it can help relieve the symptoms you are experiencing.
Eucalyptus trees were originally native to Australia, though they are now grown worldwide and loved for their strong scent, their beautiful oval leaves, and their healing properties. Their medicinal power comes from the oil in them, housed in the leaves. Once the leaves are dried and crushed, the oil is distilled and extracted. It must be diluted before it can be used, as it is powerful. You may think you are not familiar with this ingredient, but you would be mistaken. For example, Vicks VapoRub contains about 1.2% eucalyptus oil!
There is more to frankincense than hippies burning sticks dipped in frankincense to get high, though it is known for having a lovely woody, spicy scent. This essential oil, also known as olibanum, can help protect the brain from age-related damage while helping fight off cancer cells before they multiply and get out of control. Frankincense also helps build up your immune system and reduces inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the most prevalent causes of disease today due mainly to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits. Frankincense can help reverse some of the chronic inflammation in your body so that you are healthier, happier, and more energetic.
Unfortunately, some myths surround this otherworldly essential oil, so let’s try to clear some of them up. Though some small studies reported that frankincense might help lower blood sugar levels, higher-quality students found no real effect, so do not use this instead of actual medicine. Frankincense also does not affect stress or anxiety, so turn to oils (or medicine) with a better track record. The oil also has no proven improvement in heart disease, wrinkles, memory, hormone imbalances, or infertility. Though frankincense can be used as a holistic remedy for some conditions, it certainly isn’t a magic potion, so make sure you use it wisely!
If you ask anyone about essential oils, you are bound to hear about lavender oil. Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils, and for a good reason. It helps to decrease anxiety and increase relaxation, so you will find that many moms use it on children with anxiety disorders. Lavender has even been recommended for use on babies experiencing withdrawal because their mothers used drugs in utero. This oil has also been recommended for anxious pets, though you should always be careful when using oils with pets as it can be toxic if consumed.
In addition to enhancing relaxation and reducing anxiety, lavender oil helps to boost your mood. Because it can help people fall asleep, many people use lavender essential oil around bedtime. You can do so by lighting candles infused with lavender, taking a bath with lavender, or diffusing the oil throughout the room. A study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that inhaling lavender at bedtime resulted in an overall improvement in energy during the day. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Now, if only we could remember what the next section was going to be about.
The rosemary plant is an evergreen shrub with leaves that resemble needles. Its scent is very woodsy and spicy, and it is often used in cooking. The essential oil extracted from its leaves can be used for several beneficial purposes. Going back as far as ancient Greece and Rome, rosemary was believed to strengthen the memory. Rosemary oil is also believed to relieve mild pain, ease stress, increase circulation, and reduce joint inflammation.
If you struggle with forgetfulness or maybe just want an all-around way to improve your memory and cognitive function, consider ways to add rosemary into your health habits. These habits may range from the foods you eat to the essential oils that you use. Candles that have rosemary can reap the benefits of this oil derived from a common herb. Burning a rosemary-infused candle while reading, studying, or engaging in other cognitive tasks can improve your memory retention while also boosting your mood while reducing stress and anxiety.
Many people are aware that ginger can reduce nausea and improve digestion, but chewing on a hunk of raw ginger can be a bit too overwhelming for some. It has a robust taste that can overpower the senses, and for some people, it can even sting parts of the mouth. Using ginger essential oil can help you get the same ginger benefits without chewing on a chunk of it. However, undiluted ginger oil is very concentrated. Instead, you should use it as an aromatherapy source.
If you deal with chronic headaches and are looking for relief, one easy answer may be to light some candles infused with peppermint oil. The peppermint oil itself can help relieve the headache, and the relaxation of the candle’s flame can help reduce the anxiety that may be triggering the problem. If the headache is bad enough to cause nausea, peppermint can also help with soothing the strain. Make sure you dilute your peppermint oil, as it is one of the oils that are considered very strong.
Peppermint oil has plenty of other benefits, including increasing your energy levels, reducing your fevers, and providing relief for pain in your muscles. Many of these benefits can be gleaned by burning a candle that is made with peppermint oil. This oil is often used in cosmetic products like hair products and lotions. It also has moderate antimicrobial properties, though results do depend on the bacterial species. If you want to double up on your peppermint dosage, light up a peppermint candle while sipping on some peppermint tea – you’ll thank us later!
Tea tree oil is a superstar of the essential oils, and it is one of the most well-known and commonly used. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and versatile. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it suitable for skin ailments, including mosquito bites and nail fungus. The oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a tree native to Queensland and Australia. Though it is called the tea tree, it is not a tree that makes the tea we drink.
In addition to applying tea tree oil directly to the skin, it has health benefits that can be reaped when it is diffused, as when burning a candle that contains tea tree oil. Those benefits include improved immune function, respiration, and circulation. Also, tea tree oil helps eliminate foul odors, replacing them with a soothing, natural fragrance. Since tea tree oil is such a potent antimicrobial and antibacterial agent, it is a powerful tool against acne. Applying a tea tree oil solution to acne spots and scars has proven to be incredibly useful in several studies.
If you have ever lived in or visited the South, you should be familiar with citronella. Citronella oil is distilled from the Asian grass plant, the Cymbopogon genus – from the French word meaning “lemon balm.” That is an apt name, considering the citrus-y scent that emanates from it! If you enjoy spending time outside, especially during the summer months, but mosquitoes cause you grief and make you want to stay indoors, you may want to consider citronella candles. Citronella is a plant that naturally repels mosquitoes, and citronella candles are made from the plant’s oil.
Citronella candles help to repel mosquitoes while also providing a perfect ambiance to your outdoor summer experience. If you want to enjoy a relaxing summer evening outside, maybe just reading a book or enjoying quality time with others, light a few citronella candles to keep pesky visitors away. That’s not all citronella is suitable for, however. It also has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that speed up healing, in addition to its ability to lift moods and fight fatigue!
Rose oil is one of the priciest of the essential oils, but if you are desperate for relief from chronic anxiety or depression, it may be worth the investment. It has been shown to help people suffering from long-term grief, and it also helps to reduce panic attacks. Studies have shown that rose oil is beneficial for pregnant women. Some small studies have indicated that rose essential oil can positively affect sleep quality, so pregnant or not. It is certainly worth a try.
While it is well-absorbed in a bath, it can also be absorbed through a diffuser or a burning candle. Many perfumes also incorporate rose essential oil, so that could be another way of introducing it into your routine. Burning a candle that has rose essential oil can be part of a meditation or other relaxation practice. The overall benefit will include decreased anxiety and depression, improved mood, and overall better mental functioning. When combined with other essential oils like lavender, cinnamon, and clove oil, then added to a carrier oil like sweet almond oil, rose essential oil could be used to minimize the pain of menstrual cramps as well.
People who are overly anxious, fearful, and irritable usually find that they have trouble sleeping and that their sleep quality is not very good. They often wake up feeling tired and run down, even before they start the day. Bergamot oil can help reduce these effects of chronic anxiety while also reducing depression. It helps stimulate the metabolism to provide extra energy while also promoting the necessary relaxation for restful sleep. If you drink Earl Grey tea, you already get bergamot oil through your diet. Looking for Earl Grey candles or candles made specifically with bergamot can also help you reap this oil’s benefit.
People extract bergamot oil is extracted from the rinds of bergamot orange fruits. They are native to Bergamo, Italy. You can see these in in perfumes and colognes because of its soothing, spicy scent. Its analgesic qualities make it effective in spot treating acne, though you should mix it with a carrier oil and apply it overnight. It can also soothe irritated scalps if added with your shampoo or used as an overnight treatment if combined with a carrier oil and massaged into the scalp.
Ylang Ylang Boosts Optimism While Improving Heart Health
Ylang ylang is a yellow, star-shaped tropical flower. It is native to countries around the Indian Ocean. The essential oil is extracted through steam distillation, with its most potent oil being derived from the flower itself. Its scent is fruity and flowery – you may even recognize it in Chanel No. 5! The oil has many uses like mood balancing and opening the airways. Ylang ylang is also believed to have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and has even been used as an old wives’ aphrodisiac!
Ylang ylang essential oil can soothe fearfulness and reduce intense agitation, both of which reduce a person’s quality of life. Also, this essential oil can reduce heart palpitations associated with anxiety while also providing a sedative effect. Ylang ylang essential oil can improve self-esteem and optimism and help produce a good night’s sleep. If you need these outcomes in your life, consider using a ylang ylang candle shortly before going to bed, such as while you are taking an evening bath. Make sure that you do not burn candles while asleep, as doing so can cause a fire. Do not use ylang ylang if you have low blood pressure, reducing blood pressure further.
You have probably heard that chamomile helps people relax, especially before bedtime, and you may have tried chamomile tea to help you fall asleep. However, are you are opposed to having a drink right before bed? We know getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night is no fun. Then, consider using a chamomile candle instead. The chamomile plant is related to daisies, believe it or not, though there are two types of chamomile: Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile. German chamomile has a higher concentration of chamazulene, the active ingredient most highly researched for its benefits.
People have used chamomile for centuries to help with indigestion, speed up wound healing, relieve anxiety, relieve rashes, and soothe us into an easier slumber. If you decide to try chamomile candles (or any essential oil candle) out, make sure that you never burn candles while you are asleep. Using a chamomile candle while preparing for bed, possibly as part of an end-of-day meditation routine, can help you feel relaxed – both from the candle’s flame and the calming effects of the chamomile.
You Don’t Have To Be A Hippy Or New-Ager To Use Candles
Hopefully, by now, you are convinced of the myriad benefits of using candles to help induce relaxation and improve your health, but you may think that candles are for hippies. Alternatively, maybe they are for New Agers, and you do not want to consider yourself in those categories. If you have made it this far, you can’t deny that candles are more than just pretty decor and esoteric, mystical mumbo jumbo. Studies have shown that there are benefits to having and utilizing candles, so having an open mind and shedding any preconceived notions about what lighting a simple candle means could be beneficial to us all!
The evidence around the positive impacts of candles is based on science, not New Age theories. You can use candles as part of a relaxation or meditation routine while also practicing a traditional religion or no religion; candles do not make you a hippie, a New Ager, or anything else. Candles are just candles – they are a vessel for whatever you need them to be. If you need light, relaxation, or a smell-good accessory, they can be any or all of those.
Replace Your Regular Candles With Those That Have Essential Oils
You may already have candles around your house and enjoy the fragrant aromas that they give off. The fragrances may remind you of pleasant childhood memories or other experiences that you hold close to your heart. Furthermore, you have learned (or may have already known) that just looking at the flame and listening to it burn can help reduce stress. Start to slowly incorporate candles into your weekly or daily routine as your time allows and see what a difference they can make. For an even better payoff, start thinking about which essential oils might be useful to you.
Do you want to reap the added health benefits of essential oils? Replace your burned-out candles with essential oil ones. To maximize the benefit from the essential oils and make sure they work for you instead of against you, consider where to place them around your home strategically. For example, you would not want to light an energizing essential oil candle, like an orange or a peppermint-scented candle, in your bedroom at night or while you soak in the tub. However, a lovely lavender or chamomile candle would be ideal!
Did you know that relaxation is more than resting your muscles and easing your mind? It involves an entire symphony of neural processes in which the brain is working at its absolute best. Your brainwaves are better regulated, the different parts of your brain are communicating better with each other, and you are more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Practicing relaxation is essentially us managing our stress and workload. Our heart rate slows, and our blood pressure lowers. Furthermore, you can improve digestion to better absorb nutrients. In turn, it aids our immune system. That is an excellent system that enables us to get back to work feeling refreshed and energized!
Relaxation is not just about the physical benefits; it helps to improve your overall mental functioning. With your brain working optimally, you experience better cognition, better moods, and many other benefits. You also have improved relationships with other people and with yourself. Though we have mentioned meditation quite a bit, its benefits cannot be stressed enough. It can help reduce general anxiety as well as social anxiety. Furthermore, it improves memory function and concentration abilities. Also, it can even help with the brain’s volume loss over time.
Using Candles Improves Overall Health And Well-Being
Poor mood leads to agitation, anxiety, depression, irritability, and physical symptoms. That includes high blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, low energy, and more. In turn, you create a vicious cycle is where your physical and mental health is badly affected by your mood. That puts you in a worse mood, affecting your health, and so forth. In comparison, improved mood generated by relaxation and mental clarity results in lower blood pressure. It also improves energy levels, provides better sleep, and much more. That similarly creates a healthy cycle where you feel motivated and empowered to continue caring for yourself. This cycle is fragile. Thus, it is essential to take whatever steps necessary to protect it and rebuild it if you lose your way.
In other words, every aspect of your health benefits from reducing stress and anxiety and increasing relaxation, and you have nothing to lose from it. A great way to start reaping these benefits is to develop a meditation routine that involves candles infused with an essential oil. Pick something that you think will work best for you. So the next time you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, light a candle (or a few)! Turn on some soft music, grab a book or just stare at the flames, and enjoy reaping the benefits.