Four Foundations of Mindfulness

Four Foundations or Establishments of Mindfulness

1.Contemplation of the body in the body

Contemplating the physical or material body, including contemplation of the breath, posture and body parts.

2. Contemplation of the feelings in the feelings.

In this establishment of mindfulness, feelings are either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This is called vedana or feeling tone. It is a path to mindfulness, presence. TNH: “‘Breathing in, I know a pleasant (or unpleasant) feeling in me. Breathing out, I know there is a pleasant (or unpleasant) feeling in me.’ Calling a feeling by its names, such as ‘joy’, ‘happiness,’ ‘anger,’ or ‘sorrow’ helps us identify and see it deeply.”

3. Contemplation of the mind in the mind (also called Contemplation of Consciousness)

TNH: “To be aware of the mind is to be aware of the mental formations.” Formations are anything that is formed, that is made of something else, is the general state of mind that the mind is in. Contemplation of Consciousness is contemplating mental formations and mental states. Here we become aware of greed, hatred and delusion and the absence of greed, hatred or delusion.

4. Contemplation of phenomena in phenomena

The fourth foundation of mindfulness is contemplation of both mental and material objects. Here we find the Five Hindrances, the Five Aggregates, the Six Sense Bases, the Seven Factors of Enlightenment and the Four Noble Truths.