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.
Dhamma Vicaya, the Investigation of Mental Phenomena, is the second of the 7 Factors of Awakening. Peter described the progressive development of vitakka (aiming attention at the sensations of breathing) and vicara (sustaining focused attention on these sensations), combined with sati (mindfulness) and viriya (energy/persistent effort) into the capacity to maintain diligent awareness of the three characteristics of reality: anicca (impermanence), dukkha (the distress and confusion that is the consequence of craving and clinging) and anatta (the absence of an enduring and autonomous self). This alert and detached investigative process is vipassana, often translated as insight. Three meditation practices for cultivating dhamma vicaya were described: mindfulness of breathing, noting and body sweep. This description was followed by discussion by the attending group regarding the various practices.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Investigation of Mental Phenomena
There will be no posting of dharma talks for the next two weeks, as Peter will be on a self-retreat. He will report on the retreat experience on May 29.
This talk on the last night of the retreat discussed how to integrate what was gained from the retreat into daily life routines, emphasizing daily meditation practice, participation in a sitting group when possible, and finding cues during the day to remind oneself to be mindful. This was accompanied by discussion of the suggestions.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: PRACTICING AWAKENING AT HOME
During this talk, the focus is on the Sambojjhanga, the Seven Awakening Factors: Mindfulness, Investigation of Mental Phenomena, Energy/Right Effort/Persistence, Joy, Tranquility, Concentration and Equanimity/Balance. These qualities are operating in every moment of wholesome self-state organization, and become more and more potent when the Five Hindrances have been set aside in the mind’s functioning. Emphasis was placed on the Investigation of Mental Phenomena, as this manifests as the maturation of the initial meditation instruction to aim attention at the breath sensation (vitakka in Pali) and sustain that awareness through the whole of the in-breath (vicara in Pali). The collaberative functioning of the seven factors is essential in the practice of vipassana, which is the primary tool fostering the awakening process. This explanation was followed by discussion of the day’s practice and the information received during this talk.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: BOJJHANGA-7 AWAKENING FACTORS
During this talk, Peter described the self as a process, selfing, a verb rather than a noun. During the talk, the Mind System Model developed by Culadasa in his book “The Mind Illuminated”, was drawn on to help understand how different functions in the brain operate autonomously as “sub-minds” in processing ongoing experience, producing the ongoing process of self-organization and self-dissolution that is blended into the stream of consciousness, experienced as “myself”. The process of Awakening involves the practice of vipassana to investigate this selfing dynamic and “deconstruct” the misperception of an enduring and autonomous self. This was followed by questions and discussion of the day’s meditation practice and the evening talk.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: THE SELFING PROCESS