4/8 Practice Circle: Mindfulness of Mind

I’ve been reading Beth Ann Mulligan’s The Dharma of Modern Mindfulness, which is impressive for the way she uses anecdotes from her secular MBSR course to illustrate basic Buddhist principles. In that spirit, when Practice Circle meets again this Sunday, April 8, at 6 p.m. Pacific, 8 Central and 9 Eastern, we’ll continue our four-part examination of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness with a practice of mindfulness of “citta” a Pali word typically translated as mind or consciousness, but which Mulligan renders as “heart/mind.” I’ve shared an excerpt from Mulligan’s book below.Click here to join our free video conference group Sunday night!

The Third Foundation of Mindfulness–Mindfulness of Mind

The Third Foundation of Mindfulness is Mindfulness of Mind. Here we really need to pay attention to what in the Buddha’s time time was meant by the Pali term citta, lest you think it has only to do with the thing inside your skull. To establish mindfulness of citta, we’re practicing awareness of mental states, including emotions and the connections between mental states and emotions.

The Buddha is very specific in his instructions. For example, he asks that we know “an angry mind to be angry and a mind without anger to be without anger, a contracted mind to be contracted and a distracted mind to be distracted, a great mind to be great and a narrow mind to be narrow.” The list is quite extensive. He really wants us to get curious and familiar with these diverse mind states.

I so appreciate the matter-of-factness he brings to this. There is no judgement, just a vivid list of the myriad ways the mind states simply are from time to time, another naming of the human condition which welcomes us all. . . .

By this point in the [MBSR] program, people in the class are beginning to know something about their states of mind and the mind-body connection. Eileen, for instance, anticipated a certain interaction in the principal’s office, she has some thought about this, and she knows she has these thoughts and that they affect her body because she is able to describe it to us. She is aware of what her mind is doing. She’s not alone. In the sitting meditation, many people were aware of their thoughts. This means they are not completely lost in them . . . .

Sustained attention and turning toward experiences are what make consciousness of this truth possible. We come to see that every sensation, every thought, arises and disappears. Here we see the teaching on impermanence again. While the realization that all things change can sometimes be challenging, it can also offer us great freedom. I invite you to see how bringing awareness to the truth of impermanence functions in your life and how it may offer you this taste of liberation from time to time.

Beth Ann Mulligan