There are two areas upon which to focus attention in meditation: object and subject.
An object meditation includes practices such as mantra (silently or vocally chanting a sacred word or phrase, gazing at a candle with soft eyes or bringing awareness to the breath. Mantra, candle flame and breath become the objects of attention.
In subject meditation, the focus becomes the background field awareness itself.
Imagine that awareness, our existence, is the blue sky and body sensation, emotion and thought are the clouds that pass through the sky. The sky of awareness is always present, but sometimes becomes obscured by the clouds.
Suffering results when we identify ourselves as the clouds of sensation, emotion and thought as opposed the very sky of awareness itself.
The great sage Sri Ramana Maharshi once said, if something changes, it’s not real. Find what never changes and be That.
Consider object meditations to be a form of preparation. For example, yoga asanas (postures) are used by seekers to prepare the body for meditation and to practice balance, connection and alignment.
Using object meditations such as mantra, candle gazing or the breath are wonderful practices to quiet the mind and focus attention. Eventually though, one can move from object to subject meditation which greatly serves the process of awakening.