“Where your attention goes, so goes your prana.”
This is a line of wisdom from my teacher Chase Bossart that I think of almost daily, and it’s meaning continues to have greater depth and influence in my thinking. Did you realize you can affect your whole life by being purposeful about where or on what you are placing your attention? Today I’m talking about a third type of meditation: object meditation.
This is the practice I'm most familiar and comfortable with, and it's the kind I use in Yoga Therapy.
Meditating on an object comes from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, an ancient text on the theory and practice of yoga. Patanjali lists many things on which to concentrate that will have different results. In Sutra 1.39 he even says you can meditate on anything that is elevating to you. In my practices with my teachers and the practices that I offer to my students, we use different objects to move us towards an emotional or mental goal we have, or to clear the way to an answer to a question.
For example, if you are seeking direction, you might concentrate on the image of a star. If you are trying to let go of some attachment or grief you might meditate on a flowing river. Want to feel steady? Try concentrating on the image of a mountain.
Patanjali makes it clear you can choose your own object, but often consulting a teacher or guide will get you the meditation you need much quicker, as our own perceptions about ourselves and what is blocking us is usually cloudy and flawed. I know it to be true for myself!
The idea here is that you are linking your mind to the qualities of an object, and in doing so bring the qualities of that object in to your experience. Let’s think about the consequences of this statement. You’ve heard me ask in class:
Where are you linking your mind? This means
We can’t help but be affected by the things that come in through our senses and grasp our attention. Do you think it’s any wonder we are an anxious and distracted population?
Meditation can be a terrific antidote to agitations, as well as help you see the things in your life you are better off without. Then, without even trying, you will start to make little changes in your life that are helpful and revelatory. You might find yourself putting on classical music instead of the news, because you notice and like the way you feel when you hear Chopin better than CNN. You might naturally spend more time gazing at nature than your phone when you’ve been spending time in meditation.
In this week's PODCAST, I take you on a brief meditation on the roots of a tree. There can be any number of responses your system may have to this meditation, and I encourage you to have a listen and see how you feel. In general, this meditation can be very useful if you need to feel grounded and steady.
If you have enjoyed this meditation series, you might like to know I have three other series grouped together for you on my website. They are called Podcast Topic Bundles, and there is one on the chakras, the locks and keys, and the kleshas. Each bundle includes a beautiful downloadable PDF reference sheet for your journal, your mirror, or wherever you keep and post your most important life lessons. This way you don’t have to hunt or scroll through episodes or podcasts to get to the juice of yoga teachings--they’re all right there for you!
Let me know how it goes for you, and which type of meditation resonates with you the most!
May you seek to connect to things of peace and harmony, and may you experience that peace and harmony in your soul.