The evening’s activities included a guided meditation posted below: “Looking Closer Meditation.mp3”, during which Peter provided suggestions supporting a more persistent and intimate awareness regarding the sensations of breathing.
During the talk following the guided meditation, Peter drew on a book entitled “Right Mindfulness” by Thanissaro Bhikkhu (available as a free .pdf download from: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/rightmindfulness.pdf ) to emphasize the importance of being “ardent, alert and mindful” regarding breath awareness. The word ardent means heartfelt, actively interested and engaged. The above quoted phrase is mentioned multiple times in the book, which draws from the Pali Canon as the reference. This investigating function supports increasing stability of attention and tranquility, setting the conditions for vipassana, investigation of self-state organizations. There are 8 stages mentioned in the commentaries to the suttas, and these were described during the talk. This was followed by general group discussion regarding the importance of persistent, intimate breath awareness.
This talk concludes a series of explorations of the neuroscientific discoveries about how mindfulness of breathing meditation restructures important neural pathways during the process of awakening. The topic for this discussion reviews some of the progressive steps in mindful breath awareness as they are manifested in important neural pathways to promote samadhi/passadhi (stable attention/emotional balance), and how that supports vipassana (insight) during the process of awakening.
Next week’s discussion will begin a series of explorations of how various difficult mental processes such as depression, anxiety, addiction and substance abuse are beneficially addressed by mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation practices.
It is customary in this sangha to provide those members who have completed a significant retreat the opportunity to process the experience during a regular meeting. Peter annually experiences a two week self-retreat, this one lasting from December 18 until January 1, 2016. He described the retreat schedule he established and reviewed a book he used to further his insight practices: “The Mind Illuminated-A Complete Meditation Guide”. The book analyzes the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on Mindfulness of Breathing, a classic teaching from the Pali Canon, from the perspective of neuroscientific and systems theory research. It describes 10 stages of enhanced mental stability and introspective investigation, leading towards experiences of awakening from what are termed the “three poisons”: greed, aversion and ignorance/self-delusion. Peter described how passages from the book enhanced his vipassana practice. Even though this recording is longer than most, the information has the potential to significantly increase insights into the process of awakening.
During this talk, Peter briefly reviewed the cultivation of samadhi/passadhi (concentration/tranquility) in the first three tetrads of the Anapanasati Sutta, then read a translation of the fourth tetrad, which is focuses on vipassana. The four characteristics to be investigated during the breathing in and out cycle are impermanence, dispassion, cessation and renunciation. The primary focus of discussion was on impermanence, which is more usefully termed inconstancy. This was associated with dukkha, dissatisfaction. This explanation was followed by a discussion of how different folks at the meeting experience inconstancy and the benefits of this investigation on the path of Awakening.
Next week’s talk will revisit the fourth tetrad, with more emphasis on the cultivation of viraga, dispassion.
During this talk, Peter read passages of the Anapanasati Sutta, the discourse on the practice of mindfulness of breathing. The passages referred to provide training for cultivating vitakka and vicara, aiming attention at the breath and sustaining that awareness. With practice, awareness of the sensation of breathing becomes more intimate and persistent, setting the circumstances that support the practice of vipassana, insight into the characteristics of impermanence, non-self and the consequences of craving and clinging.
This meeting involved a review by some of the participants in the nine day retreat from March 13 to the 22nd. First Peter reviewed the structure of the course, which blended practices found in the Anapanasati Sutta (mindfulness of breathing discourse) and the vedanupassana (body sweep) practice that Peter was trained in by his first […]
This is a guided 45 minute training meditation to facilitate using breath body processes to enhance physical relaxation and emotional calmness, while also increasing mental alertness. It is accompanied by a recorded dhamma dialog describing the parts of the Anapanasati Sutta that promote calming the body: “…He trains himself, ‘I will breathe in sensitive to […]