Dear friends in the dharma, dear sangha,
I would like to say a few more words about the practice of mindfulness. There is an early Buddhist text, the title of which is translated as “The Four Foundations of Mindfulness”, in which the Buddha speaks in terms of mindfulness of body, mindfulness of feeling, mindfulness of mental states, and mindfulness of dharmas.
Mindfulness of body is the very basic practice of being attentive to your posture and your breathing, whether you’re lying, sitting, walking or standing. This – especially the breath – is also a very good way to calm your mind, not just during sitting but also in your everyday life. To return to body and breath when you feel distressed – or just to remember body and breath – can have a relaxing effect. So, if you like, you can try to turn your attention towards your breathing when you feel anxious or stressed.
Mindfulness of feeling does not mean emotions so much as how you experience sensations. Do you experience a sensation as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? As we have a tendency to avoid the unpleasant and strive after the pleasant – and rarely notice the neutral – this question is a very helpful way to deal with all our judgements and helpless attempts to get what we want and avoid the things we don’t want.
Mindfulness of mental states you can say basically is about thinking and feeling(s). Usually our thoughts and mental concepts are accompanied by certain emotions.
Mindfulness of dharmas can be seen as being aware of it all, of each and every mental state you are in. It also can mean mindfulness of the teachings.
So please, enjoy your practice.