How to choose an object of meditation

object of meditation

How to choose an object of meditation

In “Movement Meditation: Choose a Form and an Interval” I discussed the first two steps in making any movement a meditative practice. In this post, I’ll discuss how to choose an object of meditation.

The third step in making movement a meditation is choosing an object of meditation. This is the “experience” Shinzen Young suggests infusing with awareness and equanimity. It’s the place in the present moment where you settle the mind during a particular meditation session. This can be a  specific part or function of your body, including your breath or your thoughts.

You choose the object of meditation, unless a teacher is guiding you or you are listening to a guided meditation. Otherwise, you set the intention.

Objects of meditation fall into two broad categories: thoughts and body sensations. The breath is a body sensation. Any thoughts that arise about your breathing are, obviously, thoughts.

Body sensations and thoughts occur in real time. When you focus your mind on any one of those, it naturally draws the mind into the now, anchoring  you in the present.

What about emotions? Can I choose those?

Yes. But in doing so, you’re still choosing to focus on thoughts and body sensations. We usually aren’t aware of it, but any emotional state—resistance,  encouragement, joy, or bliss—is a blend of thoughts and body sensations. Meditation helps untangle those. (See Chapter 7: “Tangles
of Emotion.”)

I thought I wasn’t supposed to think!

You can’t not think. But meditation practice creates conditions that allow your thoughts to slow or even stop. This will not happen by force. None of this is about force. You take the action, and the process works on you.

The only force is the intention to try this type of practice and possibly the will it takes to put on your running shoes, your dance leotard, or your tennis shorts. Otherwise, you allow the process to happen. That’s equanimity.

This excerpt is from Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney which is available now through Amazon and Mango Media.