the cave and the candle


Welcome to How to Relax.

Before you try exercise One you might want to know more about me?



‘The Cave and the Candle’.

Exercise one of a series of Exercises or Imaginations, (call them what you will).

Just know that they are designed to help you cope anew with some aspect of your life that you want to explore and hopefully change for the better. No matter your reasoning, just know that they (more to come), are intended to help you relax and find some peace.

This first one ‘The Cave and the Candle’ is based on something I used to do when I was a Priest in the Church of England. No longer religious I’ve adapted it slightly and use it on a regular basis to calm myself  down and in my particular case, help me sleep, but that’s just me. Use them in a way that suits you.

The thing is give the exercise a good try. If it doesn’t help the first time, come back and give it another go. These things take practice and we all know what practice does. There is a certain amount of discipline involved but if, in the end they don’t help, do not fret and above all, do not force yourself. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. As my Mum used to say, ‘Different Courses for different horses’ (or something like that).

So remember. There are no hard and fast rules about these things. You don’t have to have spent 25 years sat on a snowy ledge in the Himalayas to make things work. The important thing to remember is…DO NOT TRY TO HARD. If it isn’t for you, so what?

OK. Let’s begin.

As you might expect you do need to relax before you try these exercises. However, how you relax is entirely up to you. Personally, I use the method whereby I start at the bottom, (the toes) and work my way slowly up ‘telling’ each part to relax.

Sit how you want. Just makes sure you are comfortable. Cramp is the last thing you want.

One last thing.

You can do these exercises by yourself or with a group.  Someone leading the group is helpful. Someone with a soft modulated voice that settles you down and describes your imaginary situation is very helpful.


Try this.

The Cave and the Candle

You can try this when and where you like. Obviously a crowded room with a lot of noisy people chatting would be difficult but it’s up to you. Personally, I would have to be alone or with a group of like-minded people. It’s easier that way, for me.

Before you start and I know I’ve said it before, make yourself comfortable.

For me that means, closing my eyes and working my way up my body mentally. Toes, knees etc, etc. Relaxing them one by one. Talking to them if you want. I know I do. In my head, in my imagination I tell them to be still. To be quiet. All the way to my head. And while I’m doing this I’m listening to my breathing.

In short, whatever makes you relax, do it.

What I’ve just described is my way. You may want to do something completely different. Remember, no rules.

When I’m ready to go I will know it and even though I might not be totally and absolutely relaxed (hopefully, that might come later) I will  begin what I call The Cave & Candle visualisation.

So, I’m in a cave. (Join me).

It’s not a damp cave, I mean I can’t hear the drip, drip of water seeping through from the surface. There are no draughts, no bats. Just you. This is a cosy cave. The main thing is, it’s  a warm and comfortable cave.

It’s dark.

Not pitch black because right in the middle of this comfortable cave is a candle. Its flicker lighting up and reflecting off the cave’s wall which are made of a beautiful undulating blue stone. Feels good already.

So, I sit. Breathe. Listen. Remember.

For a lot of the time I just sit and breathe. The remembering comes in when I want to see the face of an old friend I haven’t seen for an age. Maybe someone I want to say sorry to for an injustice I might have caused. Or, to tell this memory that I love them. Maybe to ask for, forgiveness. Or simply to  just to remember them and the good times we had.

It’s important that this is a positive experience. This is, in many ways, a release a setting free.

I hold the experience in my head for as long as I like. I am in control.

Then, when the time is right, the pictures in my head begin to fade away and for however long I want, my imagination is left to relish the quiet, the darkness, the peace, the overall feeling of well-being here alone in my cave with nothing but a flickering candle to keep me company.

Up to you.

Go to Exercise 2 ‘Dissipating Hate with The Red Flag’