What do the practices of mindfulness of the breath, mindful movement, and a body scan have in common? They are all practices of the body. Yet if we look at the roots of mindfulness in Early Buddhist teachings, it’s clear there are many different ways to practice. One of these is mindfulness of the mind.
Mindfulness of the mind invites becoming aware of the overall flavour, or perhaps colour, of the heart-mind. (As in Chinese, the Buddhist word for ‘mind’ includes the heart.) Another way to think of it is, what’s the heart-mind infused with?
Importantly, mindfulness of the mind is not about watching thoughts. We separate the heart-mind from thoughts, while understanding the two are connected. A mind infused with expansiveness, for example, might be more likely to generate thoughts of generosity. A mind infused with ill-will might give rise to complaining or bitter words.
In mindfulness of the mind, we’re interested in the general condition of the heart-mind, not the particular thoughts. To get you started, here’s a list from the well-known text, the Foundations of Mindfulness (Satipaṭṭḥana Sutta).
mind with / without craving;
mind with / without ill-will;
mind with / without confusion;
expansive/ unexpansive mind;
supreme / not supreme mind;
concentrated / not concentrated mind;
not freed mind.
As in any mindfulness practice, you’re not trying to change or judge anything. You’re just observing what is there, bringing awareness to it. And you can do it any time.
What’s the flavour, the colour, of your mind right now?
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