yoga sutra 1.39 yathabhimata dhyanat va

“Or, by meditating on any desired object conducive to steadiness of consciousness, auspicious and spiritually uplifting”
The sutra explains a method of calming the mind and overcoming obstacles using an object that is “desirable” or pleasing.  By meditating on something that is pleasing the internal state is calmed in addition to steadying the mind.  For the beginner learning to meditate on desirable or pleasing objects makes it easier to practice with vigor and commitment.
I have a picture of statue of Quan Yin in the forest that I use to begin my meditation.  I find the natural setting very calming and observing the trees help me feel connected to creation.  When I gaze upon the image of Quan Yin I am reminded of compassion and mercy.  I am able to feel compassion for myself and others.  And when the image of the forest and Quan Yin fade I can focus my attention to the feeling in my heart and body.  After meditation I am able to conjure this feeling when I see another person.  I do not need to know them to feel connected to them or to see their humanity.

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