There are two initial stages in the practice of mindfulness of breathing meditation: persistently maintaining present-moment awareness of the in- and out-breath, followed by increasing investigation of phenomena that emerge into awareness during the breathing cycle. During this meditation, training attention to investigate the breath cycle was cultivated by inviting a primary investigation of the physical experience of breathing, then letting the breath awareness become secondary while investigating and “looking closer” at other predominant sensations in the body, or investigating the nature of attention while attending to physical sensations to discover the self-fabricating nature of the mind. An important goal of vipassana practice is to investigate the interactions between physical sensory experience and how the mind makes meaning of the sensations. In the progressions of insight during the process of Awakening, this awareness is called namarupa, with nama relating to the mind’s function and rupa to the physical sensations that occur.
This talk continues exploration of the Anapanasati Sutta, the Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse, with specific focus on the 3rd and 4th stanzas, describing how cultivating breath awareness integrated with full body awareness through a variety of methods, fosters tranquility in the body. Peter emphasized that a goal of these two of the sixteen steps in the sutta is to be able to cultivate alert physical relaxation in order to clearly discern the difference between sensory awareness and how the mind creates fundamental misperception, the fabrication of an enduring and autonomous self. In the process of Awakening, there is a stage called namarupa, with nama meaning what the mind creates and rupa meaning the unprocessed sensory data we all experience. As one’s practice matures through the remaining 12 steps of the 16 step anapanasati process, the focus of attention is increasingly on the three basic characteristics, as described by Buddhism: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (distress and confusion) and anatta (the absence of and enduring and autonomous self). Full awareness of this leads to full Awakening through deconstructing the view of an enduring and autonomous self.
The explanatory talk was followed by a lively discussion among the participants regarding the benefits of cultivating tranquility in the body.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Cultivating Breath Body Tranquility
Here is a copy of the Anapanasati Sutta, translated by Gil Fronsdal, that was posted earlier in the series of discussions: Anapanasati Sutta Fronsdal
Next week’s topic will be focused on how mindfulness of breathing cultivates piti (joy) and sukkha (satisfaction) in stanzas 5 and 6.