What Is Mindfulness?

Sati, the Pali word we translate as mindfulness, functions as a composite–present moment awareness combined with investigation and Right Effort.  This interactive process is reviewed during this talk.  Additionally, there is an interesting quote included in the talk that was downloaded from Wikipedia describing the contemporary term metacognition in ways that are strikingly similar in form and function to sati, without making any reference to Buddhist psychology.  This talk is intended to be a prelude to a relatively thorough series of talks reviewing the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Discourse, which many consider to be the most important teaching in Buddhism.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk, including the extensive quote from Wikipedia:  The Four Foundations of Right Mindfulness


Universal Wholesome Cetasikas

During this talk, Peter describes the categories of mind-conditioning functions called cetasikas that are always operating when the mind is free from dukkha, that is, unburdened from the distress and confusion caused by craving and clinging.  The descriptions clarified the ways these cetasikas, particularly mindfulness, set aside the dysfunctional five hindrances.

Here are the notes prepared for this discussion, including a graphic that illustrates the dynamic interactions of the wholesome conditioners involved in the practice of vipassana:  universal-wholesome-cetasikas

Next week’s discussion will focus on the “Beautiful Pairs” of cetasikas, that is the harmonious interactions between consciousness (citta) and cetasikas (Those conditioning functions that “belong to” the citta).  These functions are cultivated through diligent practice of mindfulness of breathing meditation, promoting a flow of subjective experience that is remarkably productive of insight into the nature of experienced reality.

Mindfulness and Depression

This talk continues the exploration of what Peter terms “self-state conflict”, with discussion of the characteristic symptoms of depression in the context of Buddhist concepts and practices.  One of the primary causes of depression is what is called “intrusive negative rumination”; from the Buddhist perspective, this is understood as the manifestation of craving and clinging to a self-organization that is dysfunctional.  Peter mentioned that this consumer culture creates “needs” that were unheard of in the Buddhist world until the 20th century, and that one cause of depression for this era is misconceiving a marketing generated ideal self as real and important.  The application of mindfulness of breathing, noting distracting thoughts and impulses and refusing to feed them with attention will diminish the conditions that produce depression.  These insights were related to Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, which modern research suggests can prevent relapse back into depression, provided that the meditation practice is maintained on a daily basis.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  MINDFULNESS AND DEPRESSION

Next week’s talk will continue to explore “self-state conflicts”, focused on the prevalence of substance and process addictions in this culture.

Mindfulness And Emotional Intelligence

During this talk, Peter describes how mindfulness meditation supports the development of “Emotional Intelligence”, which is the title of a book written by Daniel Goleman.  Emotional intelligence provides internal resources such as self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation and empathy to foster social competency.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk: MINDFULNESS AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Next week’s talk will focus on how mindfulness effectively addresses the range of anxiety from restless agitation to panic attacks.

How The Brain Creates A Self March

During this talk, Peter reviewed the extensive research literature that supports contemporary understanding of self-organizing functions.  Prior to this era, Buddhist concepts were derived from culturally determined mythology, which is hard for contemporary Westerners to believe and make best use of for spiritual development.

Next week’s discussion will focus on how the practice of mindfulness of breathing and lovingkindness meditation practices effectively change the structures of the brain described in this talk, enhancing self-awareness, self-regulation and social harmony.