The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
Mindfulness of the body
In mindful contemplation of the body the practitioner develops
a continuous awareness of the bodily process. This includes a number
of exercises, the most basic of which is the mindfulness of breathing.
This mindfulness can then be extended from breathing to all the
aspects of bodily experience. The whole body itself becomes the
object of mindfulness. Mindfulness of the body can further be applied
to actions — to the different postures of the body (walking,
sitting, standing and lying) and to the different
moving about, speaking…).
Mindfulness of feeling
Here you attend to the whatever feelings arise in the moments of experience
— the pleasant feelings, the painful feelings, the neutral feelings. Whatever
feeling arises is attended to with bare mindfulness, without liking and disliking. You
simply become aware of whatever feeling has arisen. In this way we
prevent the mind from getting sucked into the feeling, from grasping
after pleasure, from running away from pain. The mind becomes able to look
at all the states of experience with calm equanimity and self-possession.
Mind itself of the state of mind
The third foundation of mindfulness is the mind itself — the general
state of consciousness. To practice the contemplation of the mind you have
to see into the actual present state of mind clearly and precisely, to understand
what kind of mental state is occurring. You have clearly reflect the state
without judging, with reproaching ourselves for the unwholesome e states, without
congratulating ourselves for the wholesome states.
We just see the nature of the state of mind with detached
observation. Then we have to determine the nature of that state – whether
it’s a wholesome state or an unwholesome one. Then we have
to see into the kind of wholesome or unwholesome state of mind,
whether it’s a state that has attachment, aversion or delusion
or is free from has attachment, aversion or delusion.
Whatever state of mind arises is noted just as it is and then
allowed to go its own way with clinging to it.
Mindfulness of the objects of the mind
level of mindfulness you tune in to specific contents of the mind,
rather than the general state of mind as in the third factor of
mindfulness. Here the mind is dissected into its components to
see what factors are at work within it, whether the defilements
are present or the wholesome factors. If the defilements are present
we have to investigate them to see how they arise and how they
can be prevented in the future. Then when the beneficial factors
leading to liberation arise, we become aware they are present,
we investigate how they arise, how they be developed.