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Lighting a Candle

Do you ever feel like you want to slow down, become more mindful, but you don’t know how?

That’s how I felt a couple of weeks ago. In June I’d gotten a project at work with a very tight deadline, tight enough that I had to work evenings and some on the weekend. Self-care and mindfulness became casualties of the workload. I had even started getting used to it – and then it stopped.

But I didn’t.

Even though I had met the deadline, the new habits asserted themselves strongly. Who had time to sit down and enjoy a meal without multi-tasking? Why spend time stretching when you have so many other things to do?

When I found myself feeling almost panicky at the thought of free time, and racing through meals without actually tasting them, I knew something needed to change. But what? I didn’t feel like I had time or energy to commit to something big. What small change could I make that might help?

I decided to light a candle before my meal.

Before I could do that, I needed a space on the table free of books and cats and laptops to put the candle, so I cleaned it up. Then I realized I should sit at the table to enjoy it.

8-2-14 candle.jpg

Striking the match, holding it to the wick, watching the flame catch – these all helped me pause, take a moment to breathe.

The gentle illumination felt soft, relaxing, inviting. It cast my meal in a warm glow, reminding me that my food was something to savor, not hurry through, as if I were in a race.

And by eating slowly, unhurriedly, I found myself able to go more slowly in the rest of my life, take time to pat the cats, go for a walk, enjoy the sunshine. My life fell back into balance. Lighting a candle. Such a small change, but sometimes that’s all we need. What small step could you take?

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