Breath Awareness For Quieting The Mind

This talk continues an extensive review of the Satipatthana Sutta, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse.  The focus for this review is on how anapanasati, mindfulness of breathing meditation, can be developed in two ways to foster insight into the conditioned nature of the mind: Through exclusive focus on breath sensations leading to jhana (a highly developed state of awareness that is hard to achieve) followed by insight practices, and through what is called “dry vipassana”, which uses mindfulness of breathing for concentrating the mind for a more inclusive cultivation of insight.  There is an accompanying guided meditation, “Guided Anapanasati Meditation” which was recorded the same evening, June 2, 2021, and which can be found in the Archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Breath Awareness for Quieting the Mind

Next week’s topic will focus on Mindfulness in the Four Postures and Clear Knowledge In Regards To Activities, sections of the First Foundation of Mindfulness.



Guided Just Sitting Meditation

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.


Guided Cultivating Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness is a key characteristic of the mind for cultivating a present-moment, detached observational process that supports the development of mindfulness as an Awakening Factor.  During this guided mindfulness of breathing meditation, several different approaches to understanding and accessing the process of mindfulness are suggested.  There is an emphasis on diligent application of attention, clearly knowing the subjective difference between the physical stimuli that occur and the mental processes that make meaning of the sensational experience.  As this is cultivated regarding the body/mind associations of the breathing process, the ability to notice mindfully the difference between the other stimuli that occur along with the breath with detached, mindful awareness of how the self is formed in an ongoing way.



Anapanasati Review July 10 2019

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.


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: ) 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