Mindfulness of Mind

Mindfulness of Mind

The Satipatthana sutta discusses 4 foundations of Mindfulness:

  • Mindfulness of the Body
  • Mindfulness of Feeling 
  • Mindfulness of Mind
  • Mindfulness of Dhammas

Today I’d like to focus on Mindfulness of Mind.  In looking at the mind, we look at mind states, the current condition of the mind, the flavor of consciousness.  This can be useful understanding, experiencing and even predicting our behavior and future arisings

From the sutta, here are the mind states we look for:

  • Greed – Mind with desire, craving, pulling toward
  • Hatred – Mind with aversion, pushing away
  • Delusion – wrong view, failing to understand the true nature of things.  Failure to understand the marks of existence:  
    • dukkha (suffering)
    • anicca (impermanence)
    • anatta (no fixed, unchanging self)
  • Constricted – rigid, lethargic
  • Scattered – agitation, restlessness, desire for change
  • Developed – Conscious of the meditative absorptions, mind absorbed into an object
  • Undeveloped – Not conscious of the meditative absorptions, ordinary consciousness 
  • Surpassable – Conscious of the sensuous state of existence, other states are superior to it, mundane consciousness
  • Unsurpassable – Conscious of the fine-material and immaterial spheres, supramundane consciousness
  • Concentrated – Focused, able to stay with an object
  • Not concentrated – Distracted, scattered, not focused
  • Released – Temporarily freed from defilements through insight or absorption
  • Not released – Not freed from defilements

With all of the above, it can be instructive to bring attention to what was in the vicinity at the time.  What bodily sensations were present?  What thoughts were arising?  What actions were recently taken?

Working with arisen states of mind, 5 suggestions from the Buddha:

  • Counter the unwholesome thoughts with wholesome thoughts.  For example, practice generosity if greed has arisen, or metta if hatred has arisen
  • Remember the suffering it causes, and be aware that it will cause that suffering again
  • If possible, simply ignore the arisen mind state.  Starve it by paying in no attention
  • Bring to mind that this mind state, like all experience, is impermanent
  • Overpower it with a concentration practice

A simple Mindfulness of Mind practice

  • First, a few breaths to bring the mind to present-moment awareness.  Focus on direct awareness of sensations
  • Allow awareness to gravitate to what’s predominant
  • Bring to mind greed.  If mind with greed is not already present, think about it feels to want a second bite of a favorite dessert.  See the whole scene to bring to mind the full sensual and mental experience.
  • Bring to mind hatred.  If mind with hatred is not already present, bring to mind a situation that recently caused anger to arise.  Recently my wife seemed to ignore a suggestion I made and proceeded with planning based on her idea.  I became tight, squinched up, turned away from her, spoke tersely.  Many angry thoughts arose about how often she ignores what I say, doesn’t show me respect, etc.
  • Bring to mind delusion.  Is the mind unfocused, unaware of the marks of existence (Dukkha, Annica, Anatta)
  • Bring to mind Constriction.  Is the mind tunnel-visioned, clinging tightly to something?  Or maybe the mind is lethargic, low energy.  Bring to mind a time when pain was experienced, note how ruminations about the pain constricted the mind.
  • Bring to mind scattered mind.  This is the mind hopping from object to object.  This may come as a reaction to feeling overwhelmed, needing to plan.  This can also come from excitement about good things to come or good things recently experienced.  Bring to mind a recent experience that and note all that was experienced.

Later, you can look at “that which knows”

References:

The Heart of Buddhist Meditation, Nyanaponika Thera, pp 122-123

https://www.whitehallmeditation.org/satipatthana_sutta/ffm11/

https://www.imsb.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/FourFoundationsOfMindfulness.pdf

Jeffrey Goldstein – Mindfulness of Mind:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sih5IG_J2O0 

https://www.learnreligions.com/mindfulness-of-mind-450063

Looking at Mind – David Lawson, all of it

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