This morning as I lit my prayer candle to start my morning spiritual practice, I realized just how much light that single candle flame offered to the darkness of the room.

What was at first a room that I fumbled around in just to find the lighter, became “seeable”.

While all of the room became more lit, the alter where the candle sat, became REALLY illuminated.

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about a focused mind lately.  I know, from an intellectual perspective that a focused mind in necessary to achieving goals and getting life done. I have also been struggling to find this kind of focus in my mediation practice.

While I prefer NOT to use a mantra during meditation, the yogic tradition that I study indicates that I use one.

The reasoning behind the mantra is to focus the mind.

But why?

Why do I need a focused mind in meditation?  My little single-flamed candle this morning is helping me understand how mantra can be so helpful.

Let’s look at an analogy to clarify.

When you are in a dark room, everything is just dark.  But when you light the candle, the area that immediately surrounds you becomes knowable, clear, available for study and use.

The rest of the room is still a little dark.  You can see it better than before, but yet it is not truly clear.  You can take that candle to any place you need clarity.  Any place you want to study deeper.  Any place that you want to work, or accomplish a goal.  And that workspace becomes clear and available for you to know.

That’s FOCUS.

The mantra is focus.  It is the light that penetrates the darkness of our ignorance. The mantra meaning “I AM” shines the light on our oneness with all there is.  I am All and All is me.

Sounds wonderful from an intellectual and idealistic perspective. But the mantra (like the candle) shines light on the things that I cannot perceive with my five senses, and allows for clarity and understanding.

I can NEVER understand with my mind who and what I am from a God-centered and spiritual perspective.  BUT I CAN KNOW who and what I am in Spirit with my “heart”.

The mantra takes us OUT of our senses.  Out of our minds and intellect.  And IN to our hearts where Source resides.

But what about when you blow out the candle?

Here is the really good part.  When I blow out the candle, I still know what I know about the room when the candle was lit.  That is to say, that even though the light went out and I am in the darkness again, I still remember what the room looks like and can probably still use the room functionally. So long as I light my candle regularly so that I can “re-study” my room environment I can continue to use that room even when it’s dark.

The same is true with focus, what gets revealed to me during those times of focus on a mantra is mine to use even when I’m not focused.  Even when I’m not sitting in meditation.

I can take that knowledge and new understanding with me out into my world, where there is plenty of unreal stuff, and still find my personal Reality. The reality of the Truth and Light.

Here’s to a focused and enlightened week Mama!


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