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This may be done by thinking to himself "planning," "remembering," "imagining," etc. Then he should return to his original meditation subject. However, if after several tries the unwanted thoughts persist, he should temporarily take the thoughts themselves as the meditation subject. In so doing their intensity will diminish, and he can then return to his original subject.

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This same technique can be used for distracting noises. It can also be used for feelings of anger or frustration, which may develop as the result of unwanted thoughts or distractions. In these instances the meditator should think to himself "noise," or "irritation. As the mind becomes quiet and verbal thinking begins to diminish, other stimuli come into awareness.

Among these are sensations, such as itches and minor pains, which are always present but go unnoticed because attention is directed elsewhere. The same may occur with emotions such as worry or fear, and these we shall discuss in detail later. Pictures or visual scenes may arise and are often so vivid as to be termed visions or hallucinations. They often have the appearance of dreams or distant memories and differ from thoughts in that the meditator usually finds himself a passive spectator not knowing when such scenes will arise or what forms they will take.

The meditator should first attempt to ignore these sensations, feelings, and pictures. This failing, he should label them "itching," "fear," "picture," etc. To be successful, meditation should not be an unpleasant experience. Strain and tension should be minimized.

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Therefore, if the practitioner finds himself becoming tense, irritable, or fatigued during meditation, he may wish to terminate the practice until he acquires a better state of mind. Mindfulness of Postures and of Actions. Following mindfulness of breathing, the next exercise prescribed in the Satipatthana Sutta is the development of the same clear awareness towards one's daily actions. Thus the Buddha continues:.

And further, monks, a monk knows when he is going "I am going"; he knows when he is standing "I am standing"; he knows when he is sitting "I am sitting"; he knows when he is lying down "I am lying down"; or just as his body is disposed so he knows it. And further, monks, a monk, in going forward and back, applies clear comprehension; in looking straight on and looking away, he applies clear comprehension; in bending and in stretching, he applies clear comprehension; in wearing robes and carrying the bowl, he applies clear comprehension; in eating, drinking, chewing and savouring, he applies clear comprehension; in attending to the calls of nature, he applies clear comprehension; in walking, in standing, in sitting, in falling asleep, in walking, in speaking and in keeping silence, he applies clear comprehension.

Here we note a similarity between early Buddhism and Zen. Or as the Zen master would say: "In walking, just walk. In sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble. Usually while dressing, eating, working, etc. Our minds are preoccupied with a variety of other concerns. In Satipatthana, however, the practitioner devotes himself entirely to the situation at hand. Persons interested in meditation are often heard to complain, "But I don't have time to meditate.

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As with breathing meditation, the primary intent of this discipline is to prepare one's mind for advanced stages of psychological development. However, a valuable by-product is that it can greatly increase one's proficiency at physical skills. In Japan, Zen practitioners have utilized it to achieve mastery in swordsmanship, archery, and judo.

The Buddha himself is quoted: "Mindfulness, I declare, O monks, is helpful everywhere. Whosoever, monks, has cultivated and regularly practised mindfulness of the body, to whatever state realizable by direct knowledge he may bend his mind for reaching it by direct knowledge, he will then acquire proficiency in that very field. For one engaged in strict monastic training, mindfulness of actions becomes a more formalized practice.

Breathing and walking meditations often are alternated for periods of about thirty minutes each. In walking the monk paces slowly along a level stretch of ground and directs his attention fully to the movement of each foot, thinking: "lift" -- "forward" -- "down" -- "lift" -- "forward" -- "down.

Repulsiveness, Material Components, and Cemetery Meditations. The last of the body meditations are designed to overcome one's narcissistic infatuation for one's own body, to abandon unrealistic desires for immortality, and to destroy sensual lust. To achieve these ends two principles are employed. First is vividly and repeatedly impressing upon one's mind the temporary, changing, and compounded nature of the body. Secondly one establishes and persistently reinforces a series of negative associations to the usually sensual features of the body.

This latter process employs the same principles as behaviour therapy and Pavlovian conditioning. However, Satipatthana differs from Pavlovian and behaviour therapy in that the conditioning is established by the meditator himself instead of an external agent. Thus the Satipatthana Sutta continues:. And further, monks, a monk reflects on this very body enveloped by the skin and full of manifold impurity, from the soles up, and from the top of the head hair down, thinking thus: "There are in this body hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidney, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, mesentery, gorge, faeces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, grease, saliva, nasal mucus, synovial fluid, urine.

Just as if there were a double-mouthed provision bag full of various kinds of grain such as hill paddy, paddy, green gram, cow-peas, sesamum, and husked rice, and a man with sound eyes, having opened that bag, were to take stock of the contents thus: "This is hill paddy, this is paddy, this is green gram, this is cow-pea, this is sesamum, this is husked rice. And further, monks, a monk reflects on this very body however it be placed or disposed, by way of the material elements: "There are in this body the element of earth, the element of water, the element of fire caloricity , the element of air.

Just as if, monks, a clever cow-butcher or his apprentice, having slaughtered a cow and divided it into portions, should be sitting at the junction of four high roads, in the same way, a monk reflects on this very body, as it is placed or disposed, by way of the material elements: "There are in this body the elements of earth, water, fire and air. This last paragraph is explained in the Visuddhimagga:.

Just as the butcher, while feeding the cow, bringing it to the shambles, keeping it tied up after bringing it there, slaughtering it, and seeing it slaughtered and dead, does not lose the perception "cow" so long as he has not carved it up and divided it into parts; but when he has divided it up and is sitting there he loses the perception "cow" and the perception "meat" occurs; he does not think "I am selling cow" or "They are carrying cow away," but rather he thinks "I am selling meat" or "They are carrying meat away"; so too this monk, while still a foolish ordinary person -- both formerly as a layman and as one gone forth into homelessness -- , does not lose the perception "living being" or "man" or "person" so long as he does not, by resolution of the compact into elements, review this body, however placed, however disposed, as consisting of elements.

But when he does review it as consisting of elements, he loses the perception "living being" and his mind establishes itself upon elements. The last of the body meditations are the nine cemetery meditations. Numbers 1, 2, 5, and 9 respectively are quoted here. The remaining five are similar and deal with intermediate stages of decomposition:. And further, monks, as if a monk sees a body dead, one, two or three days, swollen, blue and festering, thrown in the charnel ground, he then applies this perception to his own body thus: "Verily, also my own body is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it.

And further, monks, as if a monk sees a body thrown in the charnel ground, being eaten by crows, hawks, vultures, dogs, jackals or by different kinds of worms, he then applies this perception to his own body thus: "Verily, also my own body is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it.

And further, monks, as if a monk sees a body thrown in the charnel ground and reduced to bones, gone rotten and become dust, he then applies this perception to his own body thus: "Verily, also my own body is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it. Similar meditations on the digestion and decomposition of food are listed in other sections of the Pali scriptures for the purpose of freeing the practitioner from undue cravings for food:. When a monk devotes himself to this perception of repulsiveness in nutriment, his mind retreats, retracts and recoils from craving for flavours.

He nourishes himself with nutriment without vanity While these meditations are intended to eliminate passion and craving they carry the risk of making one morbid and depressed. Therefore the Buddha recommended:.

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If in the contemplation of the body, bodily agitation, or mental lassitude or distraction should arise in the meditator, then he should turn his mind to a gladdening subject. Having done so, joy will arise in him.


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A cartoon in an American medical magazine shows four senior medical students standing together. Three are engaged in active conversation. Only the remaining one turns his head to take notice of a pretty nurse. The caption beneath the cartoon reads: "Guess which one has not done twelve pelvic examinations today. During his months of training in obstetrics and gynaecology the medical trainee must spend many hours engaged in examining and handling the most repulsive aspects of female genitals.

As a result he finds the female body becoming less attractive and his sexual urges diminishing. During my own years as a medical student and intern, this observation was repeatedly confirmed by the comments of my co-workers, both married and single. As we have seen, the same principle is utilized in the sections of the Discourse on repulsiveness and the cemetery meditations. Other aspects of scientific and medical training can produce results similar to those sought in the latter three body meditations.

Chemistry, biochemistry, and histology foster an objective way of viewing the body which is virtually identical to the contemplation of elements. Anatomy, of course, is similar to the contemplation of repulsiveness. And in hospital training the persistent encounter with old age, debilitation, and death continuously reinforces the words of the cemetery meditations: "Verily, also my own body is of the same nature; such it will become and will not escape it.


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Discursive Meditations. Successful application of the Satipatthana meditations requires developed concentration, which in turn necessitates many hours of practice.

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There are, however, a variety of discursive meditations and related practices which the lay devotee can utilize to notable advantage. Some of these are not meditations in the strict sense of the word and are commonplace in virtually all religions. A hymn, a poem, a passage from the Dhamma, or a passage from any inspiring literature can temporarily elevate the mind and serve to cultivate wholesome feelings. Many Buddhists make a habit of setting aside a few minutes each day to reflect upon the Teaching or to either read or recite from memory some favoured passage of the Dhammapada.