Asubha against obsession on one part of the body?

Hi dear Dhamma friends,

If there is an obsession with a certain body part, should asubha practice be focused on that or not? Do the suttas say anything about this?

Is there an other way by which this particular type of obsession can be counteracted ?

I hope read your thoughts on the subjet :slight_smile:

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Meditation on the breath puts a focus on the upper part of the body and the element air, and awareness there is established with practice. In Majjhima Nikaya 140 the order of elements is earth, water, fire, air, indicating it (air) has a higher quality, close to space and consciousness. There is an adamant statement in the Anapanasati sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 118) saying when you change thought processes it is effectively a new body:

“I tell you, monks, that this — the in-&-out breath — is classed as a body among bodies,”

All obsessions occur in a context. If it is a very localized or specific part of the body then its worth exploring exactly what’s going on.

Ashuba counters craving, so if you have a lot of desire for something, and you can’t get it out of your mind because you want it, then by changing perception from pleasant to unpleasant about it, you eradicate the desire for it. This type of practice has a wide range of degrees of application. Depending on the situation, contemplation of the ‘danger, gratification and escape’ can also be very effective.

If the obsession isnt related to craving but comes from fear (eg illness or disfigurement etc), or identification (eg pride or shame etc), or something else, then the remedy will also be different.

If it is about a body part that enables you to do something, then it may be desire for that thing/activity, not the body part itself, eg if you’re a professional singer you might be obsessed with your vocal cords.

So the advice is to explore more deeply and try to get a deeper understanding, and then you will have a better idea how to tackle it…

Good luck :slightly_smiling_face:


Hi @Sikkhakamo,

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:smile: Well that certainly clarifies things… I suppose what you are describing would be called a Fetish, and yes that is about unwholesome craving as you say. I think you are on the right track, and have given yourself the right advice. Good Luck! :slightly_smiling_face:

Yeah, I agree with @Viveka that’s basically the right approach. With the mods’ indulgence I’ll just add a couple points from my own mistakes:

  1. Make sure to also do more “positive” affect meditations (the breath, metta, karuna, mudita, gratitude to the Buddha and Sangha, etc) in alternation so the mind doesn’t get too dry and starved for happiness… otherwise it’ll just slip back onto its old source of happiness!
  2. “Dissection” style asubha is good, but focusing too much on that one (fetishized) part can easily just become an excuse to continue to fantasize about that favorite part! So, mix it up with different forms of asubha too: the aging process, death, and the decaying process have been particularly effective visualizations/reflections for me. But, of course, you’ll have to find what works for you.

Sādhu for your good intentions and best of luck (to us both!!) :blush:


I am personally becoming more and more aware of how troublesome, painful, stressful it is being involved in sensual pleasures, relishing it, loving it. It all seems so innocent, it is not.

Here in the Netherlands 11 november is a special day. Kids go with lanterns door by door, singing. In return they often get candy. I had a lot of candy left over. I started eating it, obsessively. Now, days later i still feel tense.

Even when the kama tanha is over, the effects are not over, and are really troublesome. I am not gonna eat candy anymore, but children :slight_smile: