meditation is the art and
science of systematically
(To tour 16 aspects
describing Yoga Meditation practice, click Next
Importance of "Each" level or aspect<
One "Object" at a time
"Each" of the Senses and means of Expression
Levels in deeper meditation
It may seem to be unimportant to point out the word "each" above. However, we can easily fall into the trap of not really knowing ourselves, by incorrectly thinking that meditation is a process of repressing awareness, so that we are in some lethargic, though pleasant state.
In a school, college, or university you may enroll in a program, yet you study each of the separate subjects, one at a time. Hopefully, the curriculum works in such a way that each of the classes work together with the others, so as to form a cohesive program.
The same thing happens with meditation. You individually study each of the parts, aspects, and levels of yourself, so that you may then experience the Whole from which the parts all emerge. It means to examine each of the various aspects of senses, body, breath, conscious mind, and unconscious mind, such that the direct experience of the center of consciousness may occur.
In training our minds to have one-pointed attention, we direct that attention to one "object" at a time.
When that "object" is, for example, the body, we want to be completely involved in that practice. We would want to ignore (though not repress) awareness of other aspects, such as breath or thoughts flowing through the river of mind. (Even while exploring the body, we focus on one aspect or "object" at a time within the body, such as the wrists, or the whole nervous system, or one of the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and space)
If that "object" is the breath, we want to put all of our attention on the process of breathing, from which we will learn many things about how this process works, along with the vital energy that flows with the breath. We will come to see better and better how breath flows with, and "between" the body and the mind. (While exploring the breath, we also may focus on just one aspect or "object" at a time within the domain of breathing, such as inhalation/exhalation, or watching for removal of jerkiness, or consciously slowing the breath.)
The aspects of mind are also "objects". Here, we are not just talking about the thought patterns in the mind-field, but the instruments themselves (though we might also examine individual thought patterns, one at a time). These instruments, or "objects" are the four functions of mind, which are the sensory-motor mind (manas), the storage place of all memories (chitta), the ego or "I-maker" (ahamkara), and that aspect which knows, decides, judges, and discriminates (buddhi). These aspects of mind are literally observed as individual "objects" within the vast field of mind.
We may, for example, have as the "object" of meditation in a given moment, the ability to speak, to grasp, or to move. Each of these are separate abilities, separate senses, and thus, they are separate "objects".
Many people are aware of their chattering mind while trying to sit for meditation. If one will spend some small amount of time observing the ability of speech itself, it will gradually become clear, through direct experience, of how words arise from thoughts (which are actually non-verbal). Then it becomes easy to let go of the chattering and just enjoy the silence.
It may be even subtler than that. For example, we may be examining our ability to see, or to hear, or touch where the "object" is itself, that sense of sight, hearing, or feeling. From this kind of observing, we see how easily we are dragged around by our reactions to what is brought in by the senses. Then we become more free to make our own choices about our actions in daily life.
In a similar way, we can examine the individual aspects of our inner process when we advance further in meditation. For example, yogis suggest that when various psychic, astral, or subtle realm experiences or abilities start to come, that these too be let go of, and not pursued (They are substitutes, not the center of consciousness). By having the one-pointedness of mind to observe sharply, we can see and let go of these distractions.
Eventually, by exploring each aspect or level of our being individually, we come to discriminate between all of these instruments and the center of consciousness from which all of these flow.