|Candle Gaze Exercise|
Phil Nuernberger asserted that concentration was the ultimate skill for an executive to develop. He offered candle gazing as a primary exercise for the development of this skill. Added emphasis appears in red, and my reactions are enclosed in a box: (Note 52)
We depend heavily on our vision to function in the world. We can use this powerful sense to enhance our power of concentration by practicing gazing. We hold a gaze when the eyes are not allowed to move off the target object, to waver or even blink. We focus all of our attention on the object, ignoring all thoughts and sensations, until our eyes begin to water, or our concentration is involuntarily broken by blinking. At that point, we close our eyes and visualize the object internally. We create an internal gaze and hold it at least as long as we held the external gaze. . . .
Candle gazing can be done in two ways:
Whether you use reflected or direct light doesn't matter. What does matter is that you train yourself gradually to hold the gaze without blinking or distraction for longer periods of time. To practice any gaze exercise, take your glasses or contacts off. If you wear contacts, you should take them out whenever you close your eyes to do relaxation or concentration exercises. Otherwise, the discomfort of the contacts will eventually distract your mind.
Place an even burning dinner candle approximately an arm's length distance in front of you. The flame should be level with your eyes so you can hold your head steady and gaze straight ahead. If you want to use a reflected light, place the candle behind you so that you see the reflection in a mirror directly in front of you, at the proper height.
In a dark, quiet room, gaze at this steady flame without blinking until your eyes begin to water, or until you feel too much discomfort or strain. Keep the thought of the flame in the mind, ignoring other thoughts, sensations and feelings. When you blink, stop the external gaze.
Close your eyes and picture the flame as clearly as you can in the center of your mind. Hold this internal gaze on the image of the flame as long as you comfortably can. The smaller, clearer and more defined the image of the flame, the better the training for concentration. Don't worry if at first the image of the flame is undefined or vague. As you become more skilled with concentration, the image will become more clear and defined.
Don't try to become expert in two days or even two months. Keep a daily practice, and let your capacity slowly expand until you can hold the external gaze for at least twenty minutes. If, at any time, you get a headache, simply reduce the time you spend gazing. Headaches are an indication that you are pushing too hard and going beyond your natural capacity. After reaching this twenty minute capacity, maintain at least a weekly practice of twenty minutes. You might notice an increase in both the intensity of your dreams and in your ability to recall them.