You can engage in this flame practice on your own or lead it for a group. If you do this with a group, let your guests know you have a guided visualization to share that will involve some chanting first and some silence afterward. Tell them you will let them know when to emerge from the silence, which will last for a few minutes.

Light one candle or five – in candleholders or sand trays, or just place the idea of the flame in your own and any participants’ imagination.

Focusing softly on the flames, begin to chant the elohai neshamah [elohai neshamah sheh nah-tah-tah bi te-ho-rah hee My G*d the soul you have placed in me, pure is she.] Recite this together slowly, over and over; let it become a chant.

Very slowly describe each of the levels of soul…. Be sure to leave quiet time between each one. Reflecting upon and feeling each level can be interesting and pleasurable. Each level deserves time.

  • Nefesh. The blue core of the flame is the first level of soul. This is where you sense your soul and body connect, your center of vitality. Imagine where this place of soul and body connection is for you.
  • Ruah. The yellow band of the flame is the layer of anger, joy, sadness – your feelings.
  • Neshamah. The orange band of the flame. You are more than merely your feelings; you have another level of soul: your personality, thoughts, memories, opinions, and innovations.
  • Hayah, the black farfrizzlings that come off into the air as the flame burns, represent your intuition. This is also the quality of soul that helps you to stay alive during times when it feels as if you are clawing at the ground with your fingernails to survive, to tolerate the pains of life.
  • Yehidah, the candle’s heat and light. Who can say where this begins and ends? This is where your soul is unified and undifferentiated from All Being. This is where you occupy space in creation, where you are needed in particular. You contribute uniquely and at the same time you are in yehidut, “unity,” as the drop of water is with the ocean, as the leaf is with the tree, as the heat and light of the flame are simultaneously part of the shining of the original light of creation.

Let a warm silence prevail.

When you feel ready, chant the elohai neshamah prayer softly again. Has its meaning begun to shift as a result of this flame practice?

Sometimes when leading the flame visualization for a community, I sense the flame of each soul in the room expanding along with mine, radiating through shining faces and great hearts far beyond each physical body, a light that comes through us from the Source of all energy and creation, and, suddenly, the menorah of humanity is revealed. Still, reading about my mystical experiences isn’t having your own. Hopefully, reading about my mystical experiences is pleasurable and stimulates useful thoughts, possibilities, and feelings. Even so, it is much like showing a postcard of a fountain or picture of someone flying a plane – the words on the back are “Having a great time. Wish you were here.” Now it’s your turn to try the flame.

Goldie Milgram in Meaning & Mitzvah