Mindfulness Of Feelings Review

This talk reviews the Second Foundation of Mindfulness, Vedanupassana, which focuses on various manifestations of feelings described in the Satipatthana Sutta.  During the presentation, a thorough review of traditional understandings of the contemplations as described by Bhikkhu Analayo in his books, accompanied by contemporary neuroscientific research that supports the centuries-old views of Buddhist practitioners.  The talk is followed by a brief question-and-answer exchange among those present.

There is a accompanying “Guided Mindfulness Of Breathing Meditation”, posted the same day and found in the Archives.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  MINDFULNESS OF FEELINGS

The focus for next week’s talk will be a review of the Third Foundation of Mindfulness, Cittanupassana, Mindfulness of the Mind.

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Guided Head Body Scan

This meditation trains attention to various areas of sensation ranging from the tip of the nostrils back through the nasal passages, then the passage down to the back of the roof of the mouth, sensitized to whatever might be noticed in those areas.  Attention continues to scan forward on the roof of the mouth to the gum line and teeth, investigating sensations in those areas.  The practice continues with moving investigating attention to the lower teeth and gums, then the lower jaw.  Finally, attention is directed to include the lower and upper lip areas, with attention focused eventually on the areas just below the entries to the nostrils.  The goal of this exercise is to cultivate investigative awareness and stabilize attention away from any internal mental narratives, to increase skills necessary for vipassana, insight into the basic characteristics of self-awareness.

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Guided Whole Body Sweep Meditation

This Meditation trains the mind to move investigating attention mindfully and systematically throughout the body, sensitive to subtle body vibrations similar to the experience of one’s leg “going to sleep”, but much milder in sensation.  The goal of this training is to cultivate a whole body “vibrational” awareness that supports stabilizing attention and the process of vipassana, insight into the transitory and non-self characteristics of experience.

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Understanding Feelings

This talk focuses on the Second of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Vedanupassana, Mindfulness of Feelings.  The Buddhist view of feelings isn’t just about emotions; more emphasis is placed on affect, the potency or impulsive urgency associated with any moment of experience.  When unskillfully managed and conditioned by clinging, affect manifests as craving, that is, for pleasant experience to arise and continue or for unpleasant feeling to be avoided or gotten rid of.  Peter described some of the important neural brain structures associated with affect and cognition, emphasizing that affect is the “driver” of cognition, as suggested by traditional Buddhist doctrine and current neuroscientific research.  This makes mindfulness of feelings a crucial skill to develop, that is, to perceive feelings as just mental phenomena, not a self, not “my feelings”.  Modern research demonstrates that mindfulness of breathing meditation develops areas of the brain that function to regulate the degree of reactivity to affect, thereby interrupting craving and clinging.

Here are the notes prepared for this talk:  Understanding Feelings

Next week’s talk will focus on a review of paticca samuppada, dependent origination, a key concept of Buddhism describing how the selfing process operates and demonstrating the crucial role mindfulness of feelings plays in the process of Awakening.  Peter will explain a different view of this concept that he calls contingent provisional emergence, which combines traditional Buddhist views with a contemporary complexity theory of personality organization.

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