Mindfulness of the mind
In the third part of this series, we learn to direct our attention toward the space of the mind with closely applied mindfulness.
In this type of practice, we deliberately choose not to attend to the five physical senses and instead direct our attention to the often powerful appearances experienced by the mind in the form of ideas, thoughts, mental images, emotions and dreams of all kinds. What is happening in the space of your mind?
What is the nature of the phenomena we call mind and what populates its domain? Probing closely into the mental space, so central to our very existence, is the close application of mindfulness.
What do we mean by mindfulness, called smriti in Sanskrit and sati in Pali in this context? The four close applications of mindfulness have been extensively practised for over two thousand years in the Theravadan tradition, from which is a following classic definition:
Mindfulness, when it arises, calls to mind wholesome and unwholesome tendencies, with faults and faultless, inferior and refined, dark and pure together their counterparts...
Mindfulness, when it arises, follows the courses of beneficial and unbeneficial tendencies: these tendencies are beneficial, these unbeneficial; these tendencies are helpful, these unhelpful. Thus one who practices yoga rejects unbeneficial tendencies and cultivates beneficial tendencies.
—Nagasena, Indian Buddhist Monk, 2nd century BCE (Milindapanha 37-38)
According to Nagasena, mindfulness has both the characteristic of "calling to mind" and that of "cultivating".
On the path
Building upon a way of life conducive to inner transformation, one can progress on the path with right concentration and mindfulness; through continuous efforts to abandon harmful thoughts, words, and deeds while developing beneficial ones, along with the cultivation of the four close applications of mindfulness. In this way, the mind can progressively become more balanced, healthier and genuinely happier.
Continue the course:Mindfulness of the Mind
Good wishes with your practice! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.Photo: Ray Hennessy.