The Object of Meditation

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jerry 9 months, 1 week ago.

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    I’ve been meditating on and off for 6 or 7 years and have restarted my practice a few months ago and dusted off my TMI book a couple of weeks ago. I meditate about 2 hours a day along with hiking/walking my dog most days.

    I believe I am stage 3/4 getting constant purifications but struggling to always have the breath in my awareness. When I do lose it is never for very long though and it is always as a result of getting pulled away by a memory related to a purification. I get a strong “knot” in my neck or throat that brings up feelings of anger and then memories/fantasies related to the anger.

    My question is whether to stick with the breath or focus on the know or burning sensation. When I keep focusing on the breath I get more focused and the sensation gets strong and stronger and becomes basically impossible to ignore but when I move my attention to the sensation I get strong bodily movements that seems to help release some of the tension. But I can never stay with the sensation for long without getting pulled away into discursive thoughts. Because I don’t know which to focus on I keep switching between both and I fear the uncertainty is slowing down my progress.

    I hope this makes sense and I’m grateful for this opportunity to join this community.



    Darlene T

    Hi Jerry,

    Good question…and an answer might depend on intention. If you are working with “the body of the breath” you can note the changes in your breathing as you experience the purification. When the body sensation is strong and has some attention and your chosen object is the breath you can say attention is alternating between breath and sensation. You may want to work with the physical body. Given the strength of the sensation and the resultant strong bodily movements I would suggest going with the bodily release or purification…Note the physical, emotional effect (such as more relaxed and soft and aware… and note the theme of the mental emotional event) and return to the breath as soon as you can.

    Staying with the sensation and getting pulled away into discursive thought requires some delineation. Is there a theme; is the content associative and wandering from subject to subject; is there something that demands attention that you are avoiding; what is the message. Some times we just have to face the feeling behind the anger…Think like this if you like…meditation creates a vaccume…it pulls unconscious feeling and memory forward into awareness…and if we give it the right kind of attention which is the attention that looks and experiences it directly (as opposed to feeding the fires of the distress of anger etc.) we purify. Return to the breath and the beauty of it.

    I do hope this is helpful to you…it certainly is something we all struggle with at different times in life.

    Darlene Tataryn (TMI Teacher in Training)



    Hi Jerry,

    It sounds like the overall tone of the meditation at this point is more struggle and less ability to hold everything that is happening with a sense of equanimity, kindness and interest. The process that you describe is familiar to me, and happens when there are unresolved adverse events that have affected my nervous system. It makes it challenging to maintain attention on the breath without having attention collapse into it, or get pulled to thinking.

    In addition to working with the underlying material during therapy, I try to maintain more of my mental power on awareness. If I can keep attention from tightening as much on the breath sensations, it makes the process much softer. My intention is for more of a relaxed attention to the breath sensations rather than trying to focus on the details as much. And I switch to compassion and loving kindness practice as needed. I need to watch out for the inclination to think I should be progressing in a certain way rather than dealing skillfully with what is happening in the moment.

    Hope this helps.



    Thanks for the replies!

    I wanted to meditate for a few days and try out your suggestions before I replied. I did move to the sensations and I had a temporary release after a couple of sits. I felt openness and then dullness which I was very happy to investigate as it was so pleasant after the unpleasantness of my previous sits and I quickly nodded off. So that’s the next thing I need to deal with! The sensations are back again but I feel more confident dealing with them and I have move passed them into dullness in one sit and I was slight better at dealing with the gross dullness this time.

    Kim, I have been doing some therapy lately and that seems to help release some of my stuff as well. I also noticed I was tightening on my meditation object whether it was the breath or the sensations in my body so I have tried to widen my focus and relax which was a big help. I also noticed I was beating myself up a lot especially after I had succumbed to the strong dullness and after when the sensations came back I was getting like “why me” etc so I did some metta meditation and that helped too.

    I read about the spinal breathing which I did a few years ago but which quickly had me vibrating off my cushion when I did it then. I have done 5 minutes yesterday and today and that resulted in some of the tension to release into a kind of cool refreshing energy. So I’m going to stick to 5 minutes of that before my breath meditation.

    Thanks for the tips!

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