Perception of a Skeleton and the Seven Awakening Factors

As i understand it skeleton and powdered bones are objects particularly suitable for people who have somewhat abnormal lust [for corpses]. I don’t think the practice is exclusive for those people but i imagine that it is particularly helpful in their circumstance.

It is just my conviction and apart from the obvious reason i have no further support for this.

The way one would develop it is quite straight forward, one can visualize a skeleton in various ways and think that ‘this [one’s own] body is also like this’. Perhaps one can or should think that other bodies are also like this but i haven’t tried it.

Eventually one gets visions of some forms, one can use some of these visions up to the 4th jhana and to further enter formless samadhi by stilling the perception of form.

If one develops asubha it gets very weird once the visions start because they don’t come only when you meditate, they appear whenever there is an opening. One might entertain an idea somewhat associated with the object of meditation or even think of a body as attractive and it get’s activated.

It definitely curbs lust but it also seriously & quickly changes one’s outlook on being alive.

The visions stop if one stops training.

Having these visions is no trivial thing and if one was to tell someone who isn’t familiar they will likely think that one is either lying or is ill.

Apparently quite a few Thai monks develop asubha and a lot has been written about this.

Ven Analayo has some guided meditations on the satipatthana sutta which are dowloadable for free here.

The first three cover aspects of ‘mindfulness of the body’ (the first tetrad in satipatthana practice). I haven’t listened to them in awhile but from memory, he brings in the image of the skeleton to link the three meditations and also when guiding them individually, e.g. parts of the body with 1st one on ‘anatomy’, using bones/skeleton as earth element in the 2nd on ‘elements’ and I’m pretty sure it’s also in the 3rd on ‘death’. Sorry I don’t have time to listen to them again right now in order to be more specific but explore them yourself if interested:


This is a really important point and thanks for making it! Although the commentarial tradition separates these into actual separate/isolated meditation practices (and one can supposedly only do one at a time), the suttas do not. Samatha and vipassana are simply different qualities developed in meditation.

And there’s the Yuganaddha Sutta AN4.170 (SuttaCentral) about various sequences for developing these aspects (sorry I’m not very good with computer stuff and am not sure how to do a citation/link here). Anyway, both aspects, samatha and vipassana, are needed but they can be developed in different orders, one or the other first or in tandem but ultimately both are necessary. The break-through ultimately comes through widsom of course, but at least some degree of samatha is needed.


I had read the Bhikku Analayo’s Satipatthana meditation a practice guide.It was helpful. I didnt know there were additional guided meditations related to the book.
Thanks for sharing it


I’ve only tried the first one (so far), but even just that is outrageously good. A vacation for the mind.