The pros/cons of various meditation objects

johnson, modified 7 Years ago at 5/28/16 3:43 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 5/28/16 3:43 PM

The pros/cons of various meditation objects

Posts: 33 Join Date: 11/18/14 Recent Posts
I am wondering if there are any particular advantages or disadvantages between meditation objects, or if it is all just about personal preference.

The object that is most familiar with me is breath. However, I find that this object is difficult for me because I have a very hard time not tensing up, controlling my breath, or feeling aversion to my breath due to my allergies causing some difficulty breathing. I stuck it out despite that because so many buddhist books advocate breath meditation as the best object, but now I am starting to consider alternate methods. 

I am especially wondering if anyone has any opinion on staring at the tibetan letter "a" as the object of meditation. I believe it is in the Tibetan system, called zhine. That is a new method that I have never tried, but the current book I'm reading suggested using it. 

The other object that's more familiar to me is mantra. With some initial experiments, I find it to take a lot of mental effort to repeat the mantra in my head. Perhaps that's a good thing? 

Has anyone else experimented more deeply with the various types of objects? What has your experience been?
neko, modified 7 Years ago at 5/29/16 1:15 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 5/29/16 1:14 AM

RE: The pros/cons of various meditation objects

Posts: 756 Join Date: 11/26/14 Recent Posts
Tradition associates different mediation objects to different temperaments and the intelligence of the practitioner. The Visuddhimagga discusses this for example. Personally, I just play around with different objects, even non traditional ones. The first time I reached *hard* jhana was with live music as a focal referent.
Toph H, modified 7 Years ago at 6/1/16 7:04 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/1/16 7:01 AM

RE: The pros/cons of various meditation objects

Posts: 18 Join Date: 2/5/13 Recent Posts
I haven't used a mantra, but am fond of "sound" as an object.  Next fondness is light, space, then lastly thoughts. 
With sound and light, at first I started focusing on the physical components, but now a days, I just close my eyes and tune into an inner sound, similar to tinnitus, or close my eyes and look at the sparks of light that arise, or space either the depth or crackling.  Once that stabilizes I cut up, and into a more 3D expansive space. 

With inner sound, usually a soft light also arises, then grows in clarity, complexity as the sound becomes all pervasive(more like one becomes the sound and shifts away from the body).  Though personally, my first hard Jhanas was when I was observing thoughts arising in this depth of space(I like to joke about how my head is hollow), I didn't know about meditation, nor Jhanas then but still follow a similar pattern to dive in deep.  It wasn't until I practiced with other objects did I understand how breath can work, nor had any success with breath until already established in alternate objects. 

Anyway, I could see how a mantra would work though, same with "a." 

So yeah, love the alternate types of objects, and find them equally if not more accessible than breath(but that is more due to personal temperment than nature of the object). 
tom moylan, modified 7 Years ago at 6/1/16 7:41 AM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/1/16 7:39 AM

RE: The pros/cons of various meditation objects

Posts: 896 Join Date: 3/7/11 Recent Posts
i'm thoroughly prejudiced toward the breath.  its portable, everpresent, is connected to both one's intentional influence yet runs along on its own without willful input.  it is self adjusting in that the closer one follows it the more subtle it becomes. 

i understand your frustration with it given your allergies, tough luck that.

that said, you mentioned the tibetan letter "A".  the best treatise on this specific meditation that I have come across is fromtraditions which do the clear light yogas of dream and sleep. outside of that context i have no experience of it.

zhine, as i recall, is a somewhat modern attempt to unite various tibetan traditions by focusing on their common aspects as opposed to the sometimes divicive internecine differences.

there are also kasina objects which are super for concentration: constructed colored disks or candle flames.

also at the site you can see a really interesting take on mantras combined with advance yoga practices.


Rick O'Shez, modified 7 Years ago at 6/2/16 1:37 PM
Created 7 Years ago at 6/2/16 1:37 PM

RE: The pros/cons of various meditation objects

Posts: 2 Join Date: 6/2/16 Recent Posts
You could also try meditating with eyes open and use a visual object, for example a kasina, a candle, an image or just a neutral surface like a wall.