Reviewing Mindfulness of the Body

In the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, Mindfulness of the Body is the first of the four foundations.  This talk reviews important elements of this teaching, including mindfulness of breathing meditation, mindfulness while involved in everyday activities and mindfulness of breathing integrated with whole body awareness.  The fundamental value of cultivating mindfulness of the body is that embodied sensory experience is much easier to be persistently and actively aware of than the other three foundations, and this is emphasized during the talk.  There were several references to the guided contemplation focusing on mindfulness of the body that preceded the talk, but the frequent disturbance caused by a significant thunderstorm during the meditation severely disrupted the recording, so it was not posted.

Here are the notes prepared for this course:  Reviewing Mindfulness of the Body

The topic for the next talk is the second foundation of mindfulness, mindfulness of feelings.


Guided Four Elements Contemplation

This Guided meditation is intended to be associated with the Dharma talk presented on the same evening entitled “Mindfulness of the Body Adaptations”, with focused attention on the Four Elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  These contemplations are included in the First Foundation of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of the Body.  During the meditation, suggestions are offered to facilitate direct experiential awareness of these elements.


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.


Understanding The Four Elements

This talk is the last focused on the First Foundation of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse (Satipatthana Sutta), Mindfulness of the Body (Kayanupassana).   The Four Elements and the Nine Charnel Grounds Contemplations were read and discussed.  Peter provided a brief introductory meditation to facilitate using Earth, Air, Fire and Water as subjective contemplations, followed by discussion.  The talk then shifted to the Charnel Grounds Contemplations–Peter suggested these have no contemporary relevance, so the discussion then focused on how one can currently contemplate mortality in ways to motivate bringing mindfulness practices into one’s daily life routine.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion:  Understanding The Four Elements

Next week’s discussion will begin a review of the Second Foundation of Mindfulness, Mindfulness of Feelings, (Vedanupassana).


How Death Can Help Us Live More Fully

During this dialogue, Peter read the part of the Satipatthana Sutta called “the charnal ground contemplation”.  He then commented on how our culture is shielded from the experience of death and what happens to the body as it disintegrates, which was a common occurrence during the time of the Buddha.  The intention of that contemplation was to motivate diligent practice, as in those days, life was typically short and a lot less certain than during this era.  How can we be motivated to be diligent in our practice since our culture is much more comfortable and secure than at that time?  This question was discussed around the group for the rest of the evening, with each person who shared talking of what makes her or him motivated to practice.