This guided meditation does not represent Zen shikantaza, translated as “just sitting”; instead using persistent mindfulness of breathing practice to stabilize focused attention on the cycle of inhalation/exhalation, with emphasis on exhalation, to facilitate expanding awareness gradually and systematically to areas of the body. Beginning with the head, you carefully investigate whatever sensation might be discovered, then moving attention to the shoulders, etc., down to the feet, with the goal of integrating the concentration developed through mindfulness of breathing to eventually include the entire body.
It is customary for those who have been on a significant retreat to have the opportunity to “think out loud” about what they gained from the experience. Much of the learning and training is stored in the subconscious mind and having the opportunity to talk about it with people who understand the concepts and practices can help consolidate and integrate the insights and skills acquired. Additionally, this can be informative for those listening and perhaps inspire them to attend a retreat sometime themselves. The talks referred to by Peter are in the process of being uploaded to the site and will be found on the Audio Page in the 2020 folder.
Next week’s talk will continue to focus on the Satipatthana Sutta, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, perhaps the most informative and transformative teaching in the Buddhist traditions. The focus will be on integrating persistent breath awareness with whole body awareness, which can provide a useful reference point from which to investigate the transient and insubstantial nature of thoughts and moods.
This talk is a final review of the series of discussions begun on January 10 of this year that focuses on the Anapanasati Sutta, the Mindfulness of Breathing Discourse. The discussion used quotes from the Sutta to clarify points regarding the concepts and practices of anapanasati. Peter emphasized the emphasis the Buddha placed on cultivating a wholesome lifestyle with a strong commitment to daily meditation practice, “ardent, alert and mindful”. The review is intended to relate the practice of breath awareness described as involving 16 stages to the development of a more integrated personality (the mundane or worldly goal) and then to the full realization of Awakening (the supramundane or liberation goal). As the 16 stages are brought to maturity, the meditation student realizes the full potential of the Satipatthana, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, particularly the Seven Awakening Factors.
The review was followed by discussion among those attending regarding the application of anapanasati to their benefit.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Anapanasati Final Review and Commentary
Here is a copy of Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translation of the Anapanasati Sutta, referred to during the talk: Mindfulness of Breathing (full) Thanissaro
Next week’s talk will be conducted by Daniel Logan and focused on this topic:
What’s the story of your spiritual practice? In this week’s dharma discussion we’ll engage in a participatory exercise known as currere. Currere is an autobiographical method of reflecting upon one’s experience through a subjective and narrative framework. Participants will be guided through the process of reflecting upon past, present, and future experiences related to their practice, and they will be encouraged to frame these experiences in a manner that serves to strengthen their practice. This method was pioneered by educational theorist William Pinar and has found broad application in professional, curricular, and spiritual education settings. So come prepared to share your story with a fellow meditator and perhaps with the group at large. (For inspiration, feel free to read these profiles of Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield from Lion’s Roar.)
The following week’s discussion will begin a series of talks exploring how mindfulness and lovingkindness practices can be beneficially applied to coping with the complexity and stress of contemporary life.
This is the second in an extensive series of talks investigating the Satipatthana Sutta, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse. Tonight’s focus is on the First Foundation, Mindfulness of the Body, specifically Mindfulness of Breathing meditation. Peter went through the stanzas focused on that core practice to illuminate the meaning and application of each part. The importance of the four applications of “diligence, clear awareness, mindfulness and setting aside covetousness and grief for the world” to realize the benefits of the practice was emphasized.
This was followed by discussion to clarify the terms and practice.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Understanding Mindfulness of Breathing
Next week’s talk will focus on the next two topics of the First Foundation regarding posture and of clear comprehension.
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: https://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.
Here are the notes prepared for the talk: STAGES OF BREATH AWARENESS