Understanding How The Mind Works

This talk continues to explore practical suggestions from the book “The Mind Illuminated”.  The current focus is on the concepts of “Focused Attention”, “Peripheral Awareness”, “Strong Distraction”, “Strong Dullness”, “Subtle Distraction” and “Subtle Dullness”.  Following on the post of January 18, Peter emphasized the importance to cultivate these wholesome mental qualities: “Ardent, alert and mindful”, which are mentioned repeatedly in the Satipatthana Sutta, among others in the Pali Canon.  These three wholesome qualities enhance Focused Attention to overcome the self-state organizations of distraction and dullness, thereby setting the conditions for the practice of vipassana, insight into the conditioned nature of experience.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Observing How The Mind Works

This talk was preceded by a recorded guided meditation that fostered experiential understanding of “Focused Attention” and the other above mentioned concepts, and is also posted here.  During the meditation, the cultivation of “ardent, alert and mindful” focused attention was emphasized.


Stages Of Breath Awareness

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