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Right now you are likely confronting at least one very important, very personal question about which direction to take in your life.
I don't know the details of your situation -- it may be in relation to your health, career, relationship, or some other important aspect of your being -- but you, being human, are confronted with having to make one or several crucial choices in your life, and soon.
Sure, you probably can keep procrastinating on making the choice, but you know that only makes matters worse, and so the sooner the better.
Do you stay with him or leave? Do you opt for treatment X, Y or Z to improve your health issue? Do you remain in your current job, and for how long, or leave it? Do you accept or deny? Hold out or give in? Run, fight or lay down? Stop or go?
Whatever big question or questions are weighing on you at this point in your life - and you and only you know what they really are, they've likely already surfaced inside you while reading this - I do have a strong suggestion to discover the answer:
This evening -- or an evening very soon, though you shouldn't give yourself another excuse to wait -- clear out at least thirty minutes of your time. No phone calls, emails, TV, or intrusions from any outside entities, even if it means you have to stay up after others have gone to bed to do it.
Choose a room in your home where you can seat yourself comfortably, whether that seat is a couch, armchair, bathtub, floor, bench or whatever you prefer.
Place a single candle on a desk or table about five or six feet in front of where you'll be seated. Light it.
Shut off all other sources of light in the room, so the flame from that solitary candle dominates, and sit down.
Now, staring at the candle's single flame, ask yourself the important question.
Let's sidetrack a moment, toward understanding the flame:
Adults today pride themselves on how well they can manage an ever-increasing number of tasks. We wear being busy, busy, busy like a badge of honor. But the thing to do is to shield this pride within a complaint to a friend or neighbor, as in:
"So how have you been doing?"
"Well, I've just been so busy!"
"Yeah, I know what you mean. It seems I never have time for anything!"
This is, of course, just bragging in thin disguise. Whoever is on the greatest overload at home and at work is most admirable. They win.
Meanwhile, anyone who isn't multitasking to the extreme, anyone who doesn't proclaim to have way too much to do, is looked at weird and considered lazy, and is the butt of sniggered comments like "he has way too much time on his hands!"
And this is sick. We share a sickness -- since virtually all of us have it, it is difficult to recognize as such, though it is increasingly manifesting itself in stress-related diseases and depression -- and that sickness comes from stretching ourselves so thin over so many to-do's that we no longer know how to delve in, go deep, contemplate, and discover what really matters.
We're losing substance in our lives.
Instead we race from one thing to the next to the next to the next but truly experience little or none of it anymore. We have few if any intense experiences (which is of course why I started www.IntenseExperiences.com). And all of our favorite tools and new inventions are designed to exacerbate this paper-thin living, from cell phones to microwaves to self-check-out-lanes to iPods. Go go go go ... nowhere.
But not a candle.
A candle is the opposite. A candle when lit prompts focus and depth. It is focus and depth.
If, instead of being with humanity for eons, the candle was just invented today, it would be called a miracle. It would receive far greater acclaim for what it can do for people in this rat-race world than an iPhone.
Some of the spiritual and religious in our world still seem to get it. They're trying to keep candles alive. They understand the potential of candle, which is why they symbolize so many different things in the different churches and spiritual beliefs, and which is why they often accompany prayer and meditation.
But - except perhaps to add some "ambiance" to the room - it seems most people have forgotten how to use the intense power of a candle's flame to help us in our lives.
Like almost no other single external object out there - save the setting sun, and perhaps a waterfall - the flame of a candle takes you deep inside you. Deep where the most important questions and their answers already reside.
Even for the most scattered and stretched thin among us - even for those who have seemingly forgot why pondering is so essential to healthy being -- it is such a simple and effective way to delve in: light candle, shut out other light, relax, look at flame, ask yourself what you need to know, and let the flame guide your heart and mind to the answers that are already there.
You will, of course, find yourself staring at the flame. Mesmerized by it. And (unless you aren't getting nearly enough sleep, in which case it is also a great way to finally get some) you will find yourself "naturally" going inside you for those real answers.
Behind that simplicity, though, are ages upon ages of experiences and questions contained in that flame. It is so powerful, in fact, that you can almost convince yourself that the flame itself -- not you via the flame - is providing answers. After all, what is more primordial and full of "wisdom" than fire?
And what is more ancient to the human race than containing fire and using it not only for "practical" purposes like cooking and keeping the wild animals at bay, but also for pondering by? Imagine how much knowledge has been inspired by firelight since the dawn of humanity.
A candle is a perfect containment of that wise flame.
So take your most important questions, those that are provoking fear or worry or simply weighing on you, leave all the to-do's and the insane pace of life behind, and see what you discover via the flame.
At the very least it will ease your stress. But with the answers it finally provides, you may find this simple act to be the most intense of all your experiences.
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