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The Noble Eightfold Path

Right Mindfulness


Right Mindfulness is one of the 3 components of the Course that focus particularly on your internal states of being (the others are Right Effort and Right Concentration).

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is simply a constant, non-judgmental, accepting awareness of your inner and outer world– specifically your inner one: the circulation of experience. It is a really grounded awareness, not some sort of lofty magical state.

Why Be Conscious?

Mindfulness feels excellent in its own right: relaxed, alert, and peaceful. In addition, research studies have actually revealed that it lowers tension, makes discomfort and discomfort more manageable, reduces depression, and increases self-knowledge and self-acceptance. Mindfulness is required for the “observing ego” everybody requires for healthy performance. It detaches you from reactions to see them with gentle clearness and point of view, assisting you change old patterns and react more skillfully. The conscious acceptance of a hard experience, opening to it without resistance, frequently enables it to carry on. Mindfulness brings you into the present, the only location you can ever be genuinely happy and complimentary. All this is reason enough to cultivate this quality in our lives.

Further, the Buddha described mindfulness, when totally established, as the direct course to knowledge and the end of suffering:

“This is the one-way path for the purification of beings, for the prevailing over of sadness and lamentations, for the diing of discomfort and dejection, for the attainment of the real method, for the realization of Nibbana– specifically, the 4 facilities of mindfulness.

“What are the four? An individual dwells pondering the body in the body, ardent, plainly understanding, and mindful, having actually subdued yearning and dejection in regard to the world. He or she dwells pondering feelings in feelings, ardent, plainly understanding, conscious, having controlled yearning and dejection in regard to the world. He or she stays pondering mind in mind, ardent, clearly understanding, mindful, having actually controlled longing and dejection in regard to the world. She or he dwells considering phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having suppressed longing and dejection in regard to the world.” [In the Buddha’s Words., p. 281]

“Pondering body in the body” (or feelings in feelings, etc.) implies being simply aware of immediate, experiential phenomena as it is without conceptualization or commentary. Simply the experiences of the increasing breath in the belly. Just the subtle feeling of a noise being slightly unpleasant. Simply the sense of consciousness being contracted or spacious. Simply a single idea emerging and then disappearing. Just this minute. Just this.

This pure awareness– which ends up being progressively soaked up by its items with growing concentration, to the point that there is vanishingly little distinction between the observer and the observed (see the handout on Right Concentration)– is a type of spotlight illuminating the nature of mind and truth in a growing number of spectacular information. This brings insight into the reasons for suffering, and into the causes causing completion of suffering. (In Pali– the language in which the teachings of the Buddha were initially made a note of– the word for insight is “vipassana.”)

Mindfulness is the counter to our habitual mindset, which is magnificently identified in this story: A distinguished Thai meditation master was when asked what his take on the world was. His concise summary was, “Lost in idea.”

Picture remaining in a lovely and peaceful meadow, with a train full of ideas and sensations and desires rolling by in the distance … Generally, as this train approaches we tend to become fascinated, attracted some significant way, and we hop on board and get brought away … lost in idea.

On the other hand, mindfulness permits you to see the train coming however have the clearheadedness … to remain in the meadow! And whenever you get swept along by the train, as soon as you notice that, whoosh, you return instantly to the tranquil meadow, to the sanctuary of mindfulness.

Where Is Mindfulness to Be Developed?

The Buddha named four “establishments, “foundations,” or “contexts” of mindfulness (depending upon how the initial term is equated):

  • Body, both as an objective entity and as a subjective experience of feelings, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes
  • “Sensations” which suggest not feelings however the tones of pleasant or unpleasant or neutral that included every experience
  • “Mind,” which implies awareness and states of consciousness
  • “Phenomena,” (in some cases equated as “formations”) which means all the other contents of mind, including ideas, feelings, desires, images, plans, inner conflicts, views, dirty psychological characteristics, transfer from childhood, and so on

. Mindfulness in Meditation

Meditation is the preeminent chance to practice and to cultivate mindfulness. This is a progressive procedure in which “… the mind is steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated,” leading to liberating insight.

Buddhism is a 2500 year tradition of dedicated practitioners utilizing experienced means to achieve these deepening states of awareness. And recently, research study on the brain has both supported and enriched that tradition with findings that have practical implications for how to have meditation be as effective as possible.

A few of these findings specify to steadying the mind … or to quieting it … or to bringing it to singleness … or to concentrating it. Others are more basic, and these are presented in the rest of this short article. Think about these as practical tools that you can decide on amongst to find whatever might be useful.

Connection of Mindfulness

But mindfulness is not booked simply for some special period of meditation in the day, however is to become as continuous as possible, whether sitting, standing, strolling, or lying down … or doing acts of the body, speech, or mind … or addressing the telephone, responding to emails, arguing with a family member, doing the crossword, eating, seeing the news on TELEVISION, and so on.

Consider this story from the book, Knee Deep in Grace (p. 83), about Dipa Ma, the great Indian teacher– and homemaker and grandma:

“Dipa Ma was a living example of how to live in this world, of how practice and the ordinary activities of our everyday presence can be made one. She insisted that the practice be done all the time, which we do the things we do throughout the day without making them into problems. Dipa Ma would like to know, “How awake are you in your life? Are you simply thinking about being conscious, or are you really doing it?” Dipa Ma said that even while she was talking, she was practicing meditation. Talking, consuming, working, thinking of her child, playing with her grand son– none of those activities hampered her practice because she did them all with mindfulness. “When I’m moving, shopping, whatever, I’m always doing it with mindfulness. I understand these are things I have to do, however they aren’t problems. On the other hand, I don’t spend time gossiping or going to or doing anything which I don’t think about essential in my life.”

For more information about methods to weave mindfulness throughout every day life, please see the short article at www.WiseBrain.org/articles.html entitled “Connection of Mindfulness.”

Some of the key factors promoting mindfulness are summed up listed below.

Being Awake

When you can, meditate throughout the times when you are maximally alert within your own sleep-wake cycle. (Of course, this is unimportant on a retreat where you are meditating 10 or more hours a day.)

Decrease drains on your wakefulness, such as lack of sleep, fatigue, health problem, hormonal conditions (e.g., thyroid issues), or depression.

In sum: look after yourself. Pay attention to physical aspects, rather than attempting to muscle through them or beat yourself up for not having the ability to overcome them.

Being Alert

Several factors increase alertness:

  • Posture– Offers internal, somatosensory feedback to the reticular developments that cause awareness. Being upright states to the mind: “Wake up!”
  • “Lightening up the mind”– Here you intentionally activate an internal sense of stimulating and enlivening your mind. In physiological terms, this is most likely connected to a rise of norepinephrine, which helps you feel both notify and relaxed.

This is distinct from epinephrine– adrenaline– which undoubtedly wakes the entire body up, however also has a sort of jangly, fight-or-flight quality to it. And adrenaline rots into secondary metabolites that remain in the body for hours and have a difficult, troubling quality to them.

Often you may wish to trigger an adrenaline-based rise of “darn it, focus, get here now!” in order to wake yourself up. But only in small dosages, and consider the “lightening up the mind” technique rather.

  • Oxygen– Oxygen is to the brain what gas is to your automobile. By taking numerous deep breaths, you increase the oxygen saturation in your blood and therefore “press the pedal” with your brain.

Feeling Safe

To assist us make it through, the brain is naturally alert, routinely moving attention throughout the environment to look for dangers. Feeling safe motivates the brain to withdraw the sentries from the battlements, so to say, and put them to work internally (e.g., keeping watch on the breath).

For example, there is the Buddha’s recurring instruction to find a location of privacy– i.e., security– and then sit down at the base of a tree– where he found his own enlightenment– with your back to it, protecting your most susceptible flank. Other standard practices help one get used to, and thus unwind about, perceived dangers– such as contemplating the jungle side of a well or just being alone in the forest at night. And some practices have a welcome negative effects of assisting one to conquer worries, even if that is not their primary purpose (e.g., charnel ground meditations, lovingkindness meditation).

Some techniques for feeling safe:

  • Diaphragm breathing
  • Unwinding the body
  • Imagery
  • Taking refuge
  • Challenging or separating from concerns or other views that make you nervous


Commonly utilized Pali words that refer to favorable emotions are “sukha” (happiness, contentment, tranquility) and “piti” (rapture, happiness). These are also 2 of the 5 elements that cultivate deep states of concentration, including those called the “jhanas.”

Positive feelings:

  • Have vitality and pep, and therefore foster greater alertness
  • Trigger the parasympathetic nerve system, which lowers the distractions of the “fight-or-flight” considerate system, and brings relaxation and attention to the body
  • Increase general strength, so you’re less likely to be bothered by something when you meditate
  • Neutralize negative feelings, which consume attention (plus feel poor)

Feeling happy is skillful ways!

Here are some methods to create positive emotions:

  • The “soft smile” suggested by Thich Nhat Han activates feedback loops within the emotional circuitry of the brain, triggering the feelings related to smiling.
  • Metta practice– empathy, lovingkindness, etc.– bathes you in positive emotion.
  • Keep in mind past states of favorable emotion (“taking in” them assists support this memory). Then access that bodily/emotional memory to rekindle the favorable sensation.


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