The Four Foundations of Mindfulness: Contemplation of Mental Objects

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

  1. 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.

Licensed Psychologist

Visit us at

Sign up below to receive our free weekly blog to your inbox

Published by tlindquistpsyd

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: