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The Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Who We Are

Image by Ryan Jvr

Body

Mindfulness of the body begins with seeing that bodies are not one unified thing. The structure of the body is a collection of parts. The hands, the heart, the lungs, and everything else is its own separate part.

Through mindfulness of the body we observe different parts and cultivate a better understanding of what is happening inside. No one knows your body better than you!

 

Try it:

Right now, how can you describe the sensations that you feel in your hands?

 

Through observation we may notice details that are offering valuable information.

"My left hand feels relaxed."

"My right hand is very tender."

With mindfulness of the body we notice sensory details that we may overlook. Through feeling we can discover places of ease, tension, tightness and injury. We cultivate a better understanding of our physical bodies so we can begin to heal the troubled areas in the body.

Feelings

Feelings are conscious experiences of emotional reactions. Feelings come and go. Often, we do not have control over our feelings. They arise unannounced and offer insight to how we are interpreting each experience.

Mindfulness of feelings is discovering what feeling is present, where you are feeling it, and how it is showing up. We can practice this by labeling feelings that are already present, or recreating past feelings.

Try it:
1.   Observe what you feel right now:
How do you feel in this moment?
Call to mind two words or phrases to describe the emotions you are experiencing right now.

For example, your might feel
"relaxed" and "open-minded"
or "agitated" and "unsure"

Are there any bodily sensations present with what you are feeling? If so, how would you describe what you are feeling?

2.   Recreating how you felt in the past:
Think of a time when you experienced happiness. When you were able to recognize your state as being happy.

This is what mindfulness of feeling is. Being able to recognize and understand what you are feeling, where you feel it, and describing how it is showing up in your body. Feelings like happiness, excitement, sadness, uncertainty and more can be recognized and recreated. They can be described as pleasant, unpleasant, or neural. If it is beginning to arise or if it is disappearing. You can discover if sensations are felt in the throat, heart, or stomach. If the sensations can be described as tingling, throbbing, or warming.
 
When we are able to recognize what we are feeling we can begin growing an understanding for ourselves and how we interpret every experience both consciously and subconsciously.

Mind

The mind is responsible for cognitive functions, imagination, intelligence, perception, thinking, memory, and more.

 

Mindfulness of the mind is understanding the quality of the mind and creating awareness of a past or current state of mind. We may ask ourselves questions to help determine which state of the mind we are experiencing.

Try it:

Is the mind calm or energized?

Is it happy or sad?

Is it concentrated or scattered? 

By discovering how we feel we cultivate an understanding for every state of mind we experience. This becomes valuable when you memorize what it's like to be in a pleasant state of mind happy state of mind.

By recognizing what state our mind is in, we grow our understanding for how our mind works under different circumstances.

Phenomena

This is when we pay attention to what is happening in the external world. Through our five senses we can tune into the surrounding environment.

 

Try it:

If you are on a beach you may connect through

the sight of the tide rolling in and out

the sound of the ocean waves crashing

the smell of the ocean breeze

the taste of salt in the air

the feeling of sand beneath your feet.

All of these sensory experiences are ways that we can connect to the present moment through our environment.

Don Francis

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