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Letting In Some Light In Dark Times: A Mindful Candle Exercise

What can we do to deal with a feeling of darkness or heaviness such as at the end of the week? Especially in challenging and uncertain times?

Start by taking a breath. Notice what you’re feeling. Continue to breathe and check in with the sensations in your body, and imagine your body softening with every breath. Allow your body to be supported by the ground you're standing on or whatever surface you’re sitting on and allow it to sink down or relax, letting go of any tension and fatigue that you might be holding.

We have an opportunity to stop every week when we light candles before Shabbat.

Or we can do this as we light Chanukah candles if you have a moment to watch the candles after you light them.

As you observe the flames from your candles, say to yourself that it’s time to rest.

Resting takes a lot of work. Many people are great at doing and achieving, but find it hard to stop. Replenishing our energy can help us feel more rested. During the week we are pulled in many directions, and our activities drain us, and eventually we need to draw energy back to ourselves to be replenished.

When we light the Shabbat candles we wave our hands towards us as we light the candles, as if we are bringing the light towards us. After expending our energy outward, we can draw energy back inward. As you light candles before Shabbat, imagine taking the light and bringing it towards you. You can also do this as you look at the candles on your chanukiah. You can stop and think about all the parts of yourself that need care this week. Where has light been missing? If your back aches, your heart hurts, or you feel drained, imagine bringing some light from the candles towards you and allowing some of the light to seep in. In mindfulness practice, we intentionally turn with curiosity toward experiences that we tend to avoid. We "befriend" our experiences. Turning towards all our experiences can help us to shed some light on them. Stay with your candles and let their light touch wherever you feel you need it. Let the light wash over you and imagine it as a source of strength and vitality or whatever else you feel you need. (pause)

Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and expand your attention to to all the people in your life who need light right now.

Imagine them receiving light and lightness (a sense of ease or letting go of heaviness), love and some joy in the week ahead.

Light is accessible to us. It’s everywhere. We just need to look for it and allow it to come to us.

כִּי עִמְּךָ מְקוֹר חַיִּים בְּאוֹרְךָ נִרְאֶה אוֹר

פרק לו פסוק י

Stay with your candles as long as you need to.

We can’t remove darkness from the world, but we can be strengthened and vitalized by the light that is around us, and absorb some of its warmth and energy.

Chanukah Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.


A Mindful Candle Exercise

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