Are the Four Foundations of Mindfulness integrated into one and the same observation process?
This question came up in the Online 10-day Retreat Nov 3, 2020, guided by Delson Armstrong. Day 0 was part of a daily 30-minute discussion on the suttas, the Dhamma talk and reflections.
(Slightly edited to improve readability)
Yes. On day 2 there will be an entire focus on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. When you watch the video and read the material, it will go even more in depth into it.
The two foremost suttas are the Satipatthana Sutta from the Majjhima Nikaya (number 10), and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta (Digha Nikaya 22) – which is identical except for the elaboration of the Four Noble Truths.
There are different ways of doing it, you can also divide them into four categories. You can solely pay attention to what is happening in the body, the mind, or the sensory experiences that arise. And in just the observation, the pure awareness without trying to control it, you will start to see insights into the body, the mind, sensory experiences, and into the mental contents. You start to see the impermanence of these things, and you see there is no controller there. There is an emptiness of self in that.
It happens with continually being observant, being aware, mindful; whenever you do get distracted, you utilize the 6R’s. The Recognition part primarily is the beginning of that Mindfulness.
Whenever you are in the jhana, whenever you are staying with your object of meditation with an open awareness – that is: being attentive but not focused, not too concentrated – you are practicing Mindfulness. You are applying the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. So long as you are openly aware, you can know that a hindrance has arisen or not.
If you focus too much, you are actually suppressing the hindrances, you are not able to know when, where and how you got distracted.