Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley | Jul 2019
The 4 Foundations: Mindfulness of the Body, Mindfulness of Feeling, Mindfulness of Mind, Mindfulness of Mental Objects
For thousands of years, the famous Satipatthana Sutra has been used as a powerful and profound spiritual road map. Contained within it are the rich teachings on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which the Buddha himself called the “direct path to enlightenment.” In essence, this sutra is the very basis and ground of our entire practice, and diving deep into its teachings is exactly what can lead us out of suffering, and into more freedom, joy, and ease in our lives.
During this series of talks, Shell will explore each of these Four Foundations in more depth. This first talk -- Mindfulness of Body -- is the grounding foundation, where we begin. By practicing mindfulness of the body, we are asked to see “the body IN the body,” and to recognize that it is not a solid entity, but made up of parts that are impermanent, constantly changing, and “not self” (anatta). It is here where we discover that our entire spiritual life is em-bodied, and that we experience everything from this sacred place of home.
Mindful of Feelings In our exploration of meditation, we are asked to be “mindful of feelings,” and to contemplate the “feelings IN the feelings,” often described as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. As we learn how to more accurately discern these subtle sensations, we gradually develop a more calm, non-judgmental awareness of whatever is happening in our lives, so that we’re no longer so controlled by our conditioned responses to experience.
In this new talk, Shell explores this 2nd Foundation of Mindfulness - Feelings - as part of a four-part series of talks on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
A popular myth about meditation practice tells us that in order to meditate, we need to get rid of all of our thoughts. This is not only untrue, but unhelpful. Vipassana Insight meditation is actually asking us to take a good, close look into the nature of our minds, and this includes becoming aware of what we’re thinking. As we get better at exploring the mind more intimately -- gradually we recognize that our thoughts are not “us", and understand that they don’t need to define us, or control us.
In this 3rd talk in a series on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, Shell explores the 3rd Sattipatthana -- Mindfulness of Mind.
There are many definitions of the word “dharma,” which includes natural phenomena, as well as the Buddha’s teachings. In our own practice, rather than relying on an outside authority to offer us the answers, we are being asked to contemplate the dharma (or truth) within ourselves, with guidance from the teachings. This inner seeking is often called “come and see” and is the basis of our practice – being willing to look inside, and see for ourselves whether or not the dharma is true.