Mindfulness meditation comes directly out of Buddhism. Meditation, prior to Buddhism, was about connecting with something super-human or divine. Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, immersive meditation practice allowed him to understand the origins of suffering and the way to end suffering. In the process, he completely bypassed the supernatural.
Siddhartha went through a profound shift that gave him profound insight into human mental health and offered liberation from suffering. He came up with three key components…
- Understand how suffering is generated within us
- Live a non-harmful and ethical life
- Develop a meditation practice based on mindfulness
These three components led to the four foundations of mindfulness. Buddha called these foundations pastures. We don’t want our cattle trampling our gardens. We want to keep our cows in the appropriate pastures.
Bring awareness into the body. The mind is a time traveler dwelling in the past and future. The body, however, stays in the present. It is the anchor for being here now. Body awareness is always available to us. Feel your feet on the ground, notice the sensation. If you are sitting, notice your seat on the chair or cushion, notice the subtle energy of your body’s presence. Breath is also key to body awareness; anytime we sense the breath, we are sensing the body. Notice your breath at the nostrils, at the chest, or deeper in the belly. Body awareness is our portal to the here and now. When we connect with the body we connect with presence, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Feeling and sensation… is a unique and evaluative understanding of feeling. Notice a particular feeling, for example, your hands – how do you experience them? Are they sitting on your lap, are they holding your phone… Ask yourself, is the feeling in my hands pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? It’s probably a neutral sensation, but could be otherwise depending on conditions. This labeling helps us establish our awareness of the here and now, rather than being unconsciously lost in it.
Mindfulness of Mind… refers to mind states, attitudes, orientations, or moods. The Buddha asks us to be aware of these states of mind in order to re-establishes the mindful presence which is not simply lost or caught up in the mind state.
The fourth foundation is Mindfulness of dharma teachings. We apply the teachings of buddhism to present moment experience. To keep it simple, we will stick to allowing the present moment experience to simply be.