Phase Two: Establishing the Practice in Your Experience
Week 2: The Core Practices of Mindfulness
Clarifying what mindfulness practice is, what you actually do, and where you do it
The emphasis for the next three weeks is on meditation and on deepening experience in everyday life. The study is of the sutta sections 4-9 and Living with Awareness chapters 3 and 4, examining in particular the ‘refrain’ in the context of awareness of the body.
The idea of Phase Two is to gain a much more in-depth experience and understanding of how to practise mindfulness. So from now...
intensify your practice as you understand it:
• Bring questions about your understanding of the practice to the group.
• Do more meditation – especially mindfulness of breathing meditation.
• Look again at Living with Awareness Chapter 3:’Breathing’.
Look more closely at your experience day-to-day:
• Bring more attention to your breathing and let it, “Lead your awareness to a broader
experience of the body.”(p.25).
• Seek out the qualities of sati and sampajañña in your awareness.
Study and reflect on what you learn:
• Look into the ‘refrain’ and consider how it applies in your experience.
• See how you can apply points from Living with Awareness Chapter 4: ‘Living’.
Read sections 4-9 of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta:
Starting again with the breathing section, continuing to the end of the ‘body’ section: the postures, body activities and anatomy, the body as the four elements, and the appearance of the body when dead.
Study and discuss your personal grasp of the meditation, and of what you think mindfulness means in practice. Here are some suggested areas:
Discuss any personal practice issues arising out of Living with Awareness Chapter 3: ‘Breathing’ – for example:
• The conditions and posture for meditation.
• Solitude v. collective practice.
• Sangharakshita’s explanation of the correspondence between the standard Triratna explanation of the Mindfulness of Breathing meditation and the Theravādin Ānāpānasati method (p.28).
• The stages of jhāna (p.32).
• The insight aspect of the practice as set out in the ‘refrain’ recitation in the sutta (p.33).
Consider the role of body awareness in enabling mindfulness in these ways.
Discuss Living with Awareness Chapter 4: ‘Living’ and how it illuminates the practice of mindfulness in everyday life, perhaps in terms of:
• Everyone reviewing the experience of applying the definition of mindfulness as studied in week 1, clarifying further the qualities of sati and sampajañña.
• Reflect again on the ‘refrain’, the repeated verse about how to apply mindfulness in each situation - contemplating it internally, externally & both; contemplating its arising, passing away & both; contemplating its existence sufficiently for bare and continuous awareness, independently and without clinging.
• Discuss what Sangharakshita means on p.38 by: “Mindfulness is inherently skilful, relying upon an understanding of actions and their consequences which goes beyond a petty minded and worldly need to get ahead.”
• Do we think we are often in a state of ‘alienated’ awareness? What tends to cause it for us, and how can we avoid it (particularly over the next week)?
• In what particular areas of your life could you start, “Doing one thing at a time.” (p.39) and how could you do this over the next week?
Meditate – mindfulness of breathing:
Spend some extra time on meditation this week, if possible. Connect with the breath in the body as in section 4 of the sutta (as explained in Week 1).
Ritual as appropriate for the group:
The suggested focus this week is Akṣobhya, the first Buddha in the Mandala of the Five Buddhas.