On Selecting a Meditation Object

There are many things that one can meditate on, thus there are many possible subjects of meditation. This is especially true when it comes to concentration meditation.

In the classical Buddhist system there are 40 different meditation objects which are taught. They range from focusing on the breath to focusing on the disgusting smell of a rotting corpse (seriously!). They also included visual meditation objects (blue, white, red, yellow), elemental objects (fire, earth, air, water, space), auditory objects (a mantra), complex mental states (like loving-kindness or compassion), and even ideas (like death or peace).

There are many things we can concentrate on, and which ones we pick matter. I’d like to advocate initially for finding an object, which when you practice with it leaves you feeling joyful, excited, & hungry for more. A practice that has a deep impact on you, and which you feel you want to explore further. Here are some of the meditation objects that you can select from:

  1. Discovering - use embodied intuition to discover where attention "wants" to rest

  2. Breath - working with the physical breath as your point of focus

  3. Joy - working with the heartfulness practice on joy in a concentrative fashion

  4. “1” - Like numbers? Use the number “1” as your meditation object.

  5. Kasina Meditation - Focus on a simple visual object, such as a white colored disc

  6. Walking - Focus on a changing object, like walking.

  7. Dishes - Focus on the everyday life practice of washing the dishes.

  8. Emailing - A digital age life practice.

  9. Something Else - Pick another concentration object not listed here & use that

Note that there are different ways that these objects break down, in terms of their type. Some are designed to be formal practices, while others are life practices. Some are more predominantly somatic, visual, or auditory in their orientation, while others include multiple senses.


Formal Practice

Life Practice




Once you find a meditation object that you jive with, then keep going with it. Stay with the object, practice with it regularly, and go through a transformative process with it. When you come out the other side then you can make intelligent comparisons, but until then just focus on plumbing the depths and being consistent.

By: Vince Horn

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