In this contemplation the word ‘object’ means ‘an object of attention’ which is anything that arises in awareness, be it a sensation, an emotion, a thought, a material form, or any conceivable thing to which attention can be given.
In this contemplation the word ‘attention’ means that which appears to bring objects into the focus of the mind.
Attention appears to be active while thinking and inactive while not thinking. During thinking attention seems to move in time and space from object to object. Take for example the words in this sentence. Each word is an object. The meanings they convey are also objects of attention. This apparent motion of attention is a foundation of thinking.
Meditation Practice: Notice how your attention moves from object to object.
In conditioned thinking attention wanders about, looking anywhere and everywhere, in the hope of finding whatever the mind desires. It looks everywhere except for where attention itself originates.
Meditation Practice: Ignore everything and focus on your attention.
Meditation by Distraction
An unsettled baby can sometimes be distracted into contentment by a toy. Your mind can also be distracted away from objects, and into peace. I have heard people saying, “I can’t meditate because I can’t stop thinking.” There is a difference between meditation and meditation practice. Meditation arises spontaneously as your true nature. ‘Meditation practice’ is the activity of trying to realise your true nature through the mind. Consequently, anyone can practice meditation but not everyone meditates knowingly.
Meditation Practice: Withdraw your attention from objects. Be aware of objects but do not give attention to them.
What appears to be a cessation of thought is actually the withdrawal of attention from objects until the attention is passive. As the attention returns to the passive state the mind appears to be stilled. Then, even though these same or similar objects may arise in awareness, the mind is not disturbed and it experiences equanimity.
As an analogy, you can be aware of furniture in a room without giving it your attention. And you can give it passing attention without thinking about it.
Meditation Practice: Relax your attention and rest it on the gentle flow of consciousness, in the stillness of pure awareness.
Meditation and Thinking
All objects are held unconditionally in space, and all objects are held unconditionally in awareness. It is the mind that separates and imposes conditions.
In meditation, objects appear connected and attention is relaxed, or unfocused. While thinking, objects appear separated, or divided.
Thinking from a meditative perspective is a peaceful experience where you can see things as simultaneously joined and separated. Once you become accustomed to this peaceful state of mind then then it is possible to think, or argue, while remaining in touch with a sense of inner peace.
Noticing your thinking without judging it can awaken you from conditioned thinking.
Meditation Practice: Notice when and if your thoughts cause you to lose your sense of inner peace.
Each time you notice your conditioned thinking, without judgement, you will be distracted and awakened from your train of thought into a more peaceful realm.