The Discourses on the Establishing of Mindfulness include four elements of practice focused on the body, feeling states, consciousness, and mental objects.
Four Foundations of Mindfulness
- Contemplation of the Body – Being mindful of the breath in the body
2. Contemplation of Feeling – Being mindful of feelings arising
3. Contemplation of Consciousness – Being mindful of thoughts arising
4. Contemplation of Mental Objects – Being mindful of the present quality of mind
The final foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of Mental Objects. The foremost task with the Contemplation of Mental Objects is to ask, “Where is my mind?” or perhaps, “What is most alive in my mind?”
Contemplation of Mental Objects
Closing out the four foundations of mindfulness is Contemplation of Mental Objects. Here the aim involves monitoring mental qualities and content that leads us forward to greater well-being and resilience versus those qualities and content that contribute to further suffering. Several examples of helpful mental qualities include the awareness of impermanence, dispassion or detachment, loving kindness, and acceptance or letting go. Several examples that may contribute to suffering include the hindrances of desire, anger, sloth, restlessness-worry, and doubt.
From a western perspective, helpful qualities or content might also include awareness of our personal values, personal strengths, gratitude, generosity, self-compassion and empathy. In contrast, mental qualities such as resentments, self-criticism, greed, hatred, and patterns of biased or negative thinking are less helpful and may lead to difficulties.
Understanding Your Mental Qualities
What mental qualities or content are you aware of in your mind?
When do you become most connected and aware of your mental qualities?
What qualities do you view as useful?
What qualities would you like to expand upon in your awareness?
How does awareness of your personal values influence your outlook or inform your decision?
How can you practice mindfulness of qualities such as gratitude and self-compassion?
What is the content of your mind?
Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.
Visit us at lindquistpsych.com
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