The Top 3 Benefits of Burning Candles
The dark and cold winter months offer the perfect reminder of self-care via candlelight. Here are the top three benefits of burning candles. There is also a handy chart that will help you decide when to choose among paraffin, beeswax or soy candles.
Benefit #1 – Celebration and Appreciation
“In all cultures, light is a symbol of joy and life-giving power, while darkness is a symbol of death and destruction.”
People light candles:
In Christianity, candles represent the light of Christ. Buddhists say that candles are the light of Buddha’s teaching. In Judaism, candles are a reminder of God’s divine presence. “The candle’s flame is also thought to symbolically represent the human soul and serve as a reminder of the frailty and beauty of life.”
To Accompany Prayer
When candles are lit to accompany prayer or intention, as they are in the Catholic Church, they celebrate not only Christ as the light of the world, but also the light of faith in our hearts. Some believe that the smoke from a lit candle is what takes a prayer to heaven. This may be where the tradition of “making a wish” before blowing out a birthday candle comes from.
To Remember the Dead
In the Catholic faith, candles lit for the dead are both a remembrance of the individual, and a continuation of the prayers offered for that person during life.
In Judaism, memorial candles confirm that the memory of the deceased person lives on and still burns bright.
To Show Solidarity
Candlelight vigils show support during difficult times or solidarity with a cause. In this context, candles symbolize the light of goodness over the darkness of evil. Vigils bring comfort to the people who have gathered together, and attention to the victims or the cause being supported.
To Celebrate a Birthday or Special Event
In the time of the Ancient Greeks, round cakes resembling the moon were presented at the temple of Artemis, goddess of the moon. Candles on the cakes represented the moon’s glow.
Birthday candles have been around since at least the mid 1700’s in Germany when birthday cakes for children included a candle for each year of their life, plus extras to represent the years to come.
During a Romantic Dinner
While it is the setting and the company that makes a meal romantic, candles help. In addition to contributing a soft glow to the event, the subdued light of a candle means that your eyes dilate in an effort to let in more light. Dilated pupils look attractive and seductive.
Benefit #2 – Relaxation and Meditation
There is something mesmerizing about flame, whether in your fireplace or on a candle. Staring at a flame is a great way to quiet your mind.
If you simply want to feel more peaceful, enjoy the gentle glow and soft shadows created from candlelight in any room of your home. For example, you might use candles along with a hot bath for a double dose of relaxation.
Many people find it easier to meditate when looking at a candle flame. Trataka is the practice of gazing at a candle flame, or at any other object. It is a part of Hatha Yoga. Here’s a short (2.5 minute) video about the practice.
In the video, Trataka is suggested as a way to prepare your mind for longer meditations. However, you can also use the candle flame to visualize specific ideas such as flame as a source of love, or burning away your problems.
Benefit #3 – Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the practice of using essentials oils, which are extracts from plants, to promote your physical and emotional wellbeing.
The idea, in part, is that scent is the most powerful of your five senses. Certain aromas remind you of specific memories, enhancing both your feeling of relaxation and your mood. Some aromas are also purported to have physical benefits. For example, jasmine is supposed to help improve hand-eye coordination and lavender slows your reaction time to help you sleep.
Two points to remember are: use scents that you find appealing, and choose candles infused with natural essential oils rather than artificially scented candles.
Here’s a simple infographic of some of the most common scents and how they help. If you’d like a download of the infographic, click here.
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Choose Your Candle
|If You Want||Then Choose|
|a natural scent||beeswax. It is scented by the honey and floral nectar in the honeycomb.|
|essential oils||soy. The essential oils will release slowly.|
|the most light||beeswax. Their light is the closest to natural sunlight.|
|the least expensive candle||paraffin. They are 1/10th the cost of beeswax.|
|very little smoke and soot||beeswax because it produces the least. Paraffin produces the most. Soy is in the middle.|
|to support local farmers||beeswax or soy.|
|a longer burn time||beeswax or soy.|
|minimal dripping||beeswax or soy.|
|help relaxing||any candle will do!|
Remember to never leave a candle unattended and to keep it in a non-tip holder at least twelve inches away from anything flammable.
Which of the benefits of burning candles do you enjoy? What kind of candles do you like? Which scents? Have you tried candle meditation? Please share in the comments below.