Here's is an image from the last class. We want to "ground" ourselves in our bodies like our hands, feet, or breath. We also refer to this as "anchoring" in these experiences. This how we use concentration to focus our attention.

Once grounded or stable, we loosen our grip on our concentration and notice thoughts, emotions or body sensations rising and falling into our awareness. After the object falls, we either look for the next object to come into our awareness or we return to our anchor.

After last class we know what we’re “seeing” when we look at our minds. We are trying to differentiate thoughts from emotions, and emotions from body sensations.

 

Now we want to introduce the way in which you are seeing it. There are two concepts to explore here. The first is called “papanca” which is a Pali word (which is the language the Buddha taught in). The other concept is called “bare awareness.”

 

These are two different ways in which the mind operates.

We discussed the different forms papanca can take. Often these are the random and uncontrolled thoughts and feelings that can consume a lot of our mental and emotional energy. Unfortunately, a lot of our energy goes into papanca like thinking and feeling.

Here’s another slide with a description of what papanca is and some examples.

 

When we associate a thought we start connecting the thought with other ideas, beliefs and values. 

 

When we ”become it” we loose our reference point about who we are. Instead of being objective and seeing our emotions operating and moving within us, all we see is the emotion. We become the emotion. Then this emotion takes over our motives and choices.

 

When we interpret, we spend more time analyzing rather than watching it rise and fall.

There are many levels to “bare awareness.” Basically we want to note the rawest, plainest part of our experience. 

 

When we feel something, we want to feel it without any commentary, embellishment or story telling. When we’re thinking something, we want to just notice “thinking” or “thinking about …”

 

This is the most honest and direct way of seeing and honoring ourselves. This is our pure experience with no need for justification or cause and effect analysis. With bare awareness of ourselves, we fully accept what is happening to us.

 

Ultimately, this becomes a practice of self respect.

The benefits of bare awareness lead to better life decisions based on accurate unfiltered information. 

 

Instead of letting papanca-like reasoning influence what we do at work or home, we can determine our future by making our own choices.

Mindfulness is a very fluid experience. Sometimes concentration is confused with mindfulness.

 

When we meditate with mindfulness our minds are active and in constant flux. We are continuously noting a thought or feeling rising and falling. Even in a deep state of mindfulness the mind is actively watching the subtle sensations constantly changing.

 

Mindfulness is intended to deepen the insight of constant change. When we keep opening to the next moment, and the next moment and the next moment ... we keep reinforcing the strength of this conviction.

 

Concentration on the other hand is very still and quiet. We keep coming back to our anchor and choose to repress what we’re feeling. While this leads to a calmness, that calm is only temporary because the deepest lasting calm comes from less ego.

When we are watching our emotion rise and fall, sometimes the feeling rises and stays there.

 

In reality, emotions are always changing, but sometimes we just can’t see it changing.

 

When working with emotions, we don’t want to force the feelings away because that becomes repression or avoidance, and sooner or later it’s likely to return.

 

Yet if a difficult emotion peaks we do want to help “facilitate” it’s passing without an attitude of aversion to it, or greed for something better. To facilitate means to ”make it easier” for the emotion to pass.

 

You can do this by 1) turning your attention to a ”softer or warmer” emotion somewhere else in the body and hold that. Or 2) turn your attention to the edge of that difficult feeling in the body and try to soften the feelings around the difficult emotion. The hope is these practice will make it easier for the difficult feelings to flow or fall away naturally.

In summary, these are two common kinds of experiences when meditating. If you can recognize your papanca, then there’s good reasons to let go of it by anchoring or practicing bare awareness.

 

Mindfulness is really about bare awareness.

This is concentration or attention. We can see what we're experiencing, see it rise and fall, and be grounded. The constant change and letting things be is the start of mindfulness.

But there are times where the ego still sneaks into the equation. For this reason we go to the next level of mindfulness with Bare Attention or Bare Awareness.

As we start to layer our mental skills now, we see the same experiences like we are concentrated or attentive. However, the mindful perspective is different because we are aware of things in four different ways listed on the slide.

In the end, this leads to less wanting, avoiding or distraction - i.e. less suffering.

This is the reason to practice mindfulness meditation. Often people want to deepen their meditation practice, and the best way to go deeper is to be "drawn" to the practice.

A reason to be "drawn" to practice mindfulness is more contentment, better decisions and less reactivity to events in life.

This is the reason to practice mindfulness meditation. Often people want to deepen their meditation practice, and the best way to go deeper is to be "drawn" to the practice.

A reason to be "drawn" to practice mindfulness is more contentment, better decisions and less reactivity to events in life.

This diagram ties the practice together. Instead of the ego getting involved and taking us into suffering, we hope to divert to the right of instability and practice mindful bare attention. 

With less ego in the picture, we are more likely to connect to our direct experience in life, and pursue an aesthetic life rich in meaning and purpose.

Next week is out last class together. We're going to look at kindness and what it feels like for others, and more importantly, for yourself.

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© 2018 by James Lowe