Skillful Mindfulness: Introduction to Mindfulness

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 193-200)

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is paying attention moment to moment to what is.  There are three parts to the definition:

  • Paying Attention
  • Moment to moment
  • To what is

Without mindfulness, our thought patterns are:

  • Limited
  • Habitual
  • Conditioned by delusions

This causes our perception and mental conceptualization of reality to be scattered and confused.  The mind puts “spin” on reality and we believe the mind.  For example, we hear a sound and put meaning on it such as labeling it as “unpleasant dog barking.”  It is just a sound.

The mind wants three things:

  • Certainty
  • Satisfaction
  • Self nature

Compare mindfulness to a mirror that reflects without distortion.

In order to be like that mirror, we must understand the nature of reality.  It is constantly changing.  As Bhante G put it:” a dynamic flow of incessant change.” P. 196

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness confers several benefits:

  • Prevents us from reacting or being caught up in our thoughts and sensations.  It gives us the time we need to practice Skillful Effort.
  • Leads to insights, the “inner seeing” of how things really are.  Through these insights, we find happiness and peace.
  • Purifies the mind burning away the obstructions of greed, hatred, and delusion and leading to happiness and peace.
  • Brings wisdom through knowing the three characteristics of impermanence, dissatisfaction, selfless nature.

Back to the definition of what mindfulness is:

  • Paying Attention:  With mindfulness we are listening to life instead of letting the mind do all the talking.
  • Moment to moment:  We are always in the present, not letting our mind dwell on the past and the future
  • To what is:  we see how things really are:  impermanent, unsatisfactory, selfless.

“Skillful mindfulness is the incorporation of our whole life into meditative practice.”  –Bhante G,  P. 197

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

The Buddha described techniques for practicing mindfulness in one of his most famous teachings:  The Satipatthana Sutra.

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are:

  1. Mindfulness of the body
  2. Mindfulness of feelings
  3. Mindfulness of the mind
  4. Mindfulness of mental objects.

In the next talk, we will explore the first foundation:  Mindfulness of the Body.

Reflection

  • Each day, re-read this talk and reflect on it.
  • Can you experience paying attention moment to moment to what is?
  • What do you notice?  Are you as reactive?

Meditation

  • Take time to meditate each day if only for a little while.

Next: Skillful Mindfullness: Mindfulness of the Breath
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: Skillful Effort: Cultivating and Maintaining Positive States of Mind I