Beyond the Burning

Beyond the Burning

written by brittany

You’re freshly washed, draped in your most comfortable pair of pajamas. Evening duties are complete. Your home is in order, silent with an air of accomplishment. Just before you nestle onto the cushions of your couch and extend a hand to the overpoured glass of red sitting on the side table, you reach for the lighter. Flick. Flick. You’ve lit your favorite candle. The flame swells into a soft glow. And you fall into the embrace of your couch, glass in hand. The evening has begun.

This is routine, a ritual for some, and yet, its impact – the lighting of candles in our homes – is greater than we are typically conscious of. From its shape to its scent to the light that it emits, the act of candle burning is intentionally and unintentionally a tantric mind, body, and soul experience.  

Lately, I’ve been prioritizing my own mind, body, and soul by exploring and adding to the level of comfort in my home. I have found that I certainly feel safe here but often times lack the comfort that my being desires. I now feel as though I am in a season to put action towards fashioning that in my space. So while cleaning the other day, I came across episode 65 of the Candle Business Coach podcast where the host, Kristy Allen, interviewed Interior Designer, Tara Cantwell, about the huge physiological impact of candles in a space. As a candle maker myself, this episode reminded me to think less of the perfection of a candle (fragrance to wax ratios, sink holes, iykyk) and to think more of the vastness of a candle’s purpose to our beings. As a routine candle burner, collector (because sometimes I don’t burn them) and someone trying to elevate her space, this podcast felt like nourishment. And so, synonymous with how I like to commune: intentionally sharing what enlightens me with others – I want to share what I learned with you.

Candle Shape

Cantwell first detailed the effect of candle shape in a space by describing the traditional cylinder or round shape of candles to be an element that brings calm and softness into a space. Of course, I had to pause my cleaning to go down my own mini rabbit hole on the side while still listening to explore other shapes and their effects on us. So, I found that contrastingly to round shapes, rectangles and squares tend to represent strength and security, while triangular pieces provide more of an energizing effect and aids with focus. This is definitely true of my own space – I have tons of square furniture in my home with the exception of smaller round pieces which happen to be mostly candles… likely why I feel safe but not comfortable, I digress.

Candle Scent

The podcast also touched on the power of a candle’s scent. As I am sure it is no surprise to you, scent can have a tremendous affect on us biologically and physiologically. We process scent through the limbic system of our brains which is involved in our behavioral and emotional responses and the formation and storage of memories. Thanks Google. So, when we are experiencing a candle’s scent, the scent stimulates our limbic system and serotonin and dopamine are released in the process, memories are made and/or remembered. In the podcast, Cantwell even spoke of an article that stated a scent’s ability to affect body temperature and shared that scents of black pepper and red chili pepper, for example, have the ability to make us feel warm whereas eucalyptus and cinnamon make us feel cooler.  

Candles Are An Aspect of Nature

Perhaps, the most fascinating aspect (to me, at least) that Cantwell dropped on this episode was in light of biophilic interior design where an indoor space is incorporated with characteristics of nature. “We as humans have an innate connection with nature,” Cantwell relayed in the podcast from her research on biophilic design. She described how in this innate connection, we desire to be in and around nature and the more we are, the more relaxed and grounded we feel. *Shout out to the plant mommies, daddies and aunties (me)* Candles provide us connection with nature through the element of fire and scent. The golden light from a burning candle stimulates a sense of relaxation in our minds. The long-wavelength of a candle flame’s low light is captured by our brains and processed in a way that affects our behavioral rhythm. For someone gazing at a candle flame as a form of meditation, the brain will shift out of an alert beta brainwave state and into a more creative and relaxed alpha brainwave state. And even indirectly, in less meditative situations, our bodies tend to relax emotionally and physically while in the presence of a candle’s flicker, e.g., when in intimate settings, preparing for bed, or reading a book (: Candle light has the ability to soothe emotions and provide comfort through its ambiance and fragrances, especially fragrances scented with herbal, woodsy and floral notes as those mimic nature the most and are less complex.

During your next candle ritual or routine, remember that your candle is more than an aesthetically pleasing piece in your space. Your candle is transforming energy within your space and within you.. 

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