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Cultivation of deep cognition of feelings

Lesson for mindfulness – part 5:

Cultivation of deep cognition of feelings

Siri Sudassanarama
sadaham senasuna
Ven. Dr. Mirisse Dhammika thero

This breathing Bhavana procedure can become part of daily life, but this does not mean that we can focus on the breath all the time. The training program of breathing Bhavana is for a set time each day. However, the student may eventually be able to practice mindfulness of the breath from time to time throughout the day,

especially at those times when feeling restless. Here, it should also be noted that Anapanasati is not a breathing exercise. It is instead the practice of mindfulness using the breath as a focusing tool. There is no attempt to control the breathing in any particular way. We let the mind be aware of the breath, and observe the motion of the air while we concentrate on our breathing – in and out. When we breathe, we sometimes take long breaths, sometimes short. Instead the breaths should be normal, natural and calm. The practitioner should note that when taking long breaths he is aware of this long breath, and when taking a short breath, he is aware of the short breath. When the mind is focused and follows the breath persistently, one is able to focus the mind on the present moment. The practitioner can recognize the warm feelings that arise at the nostrils or any other part of the body from the heat generated by the breathing process. Nevertheless, the mind does not stay all the time with the feelings of the breath.

The mind generates images, memories, emotions and fantasies. The mind also comes into contact with external factors such as sounds, smells, heat or cold. When these distractions occur, the practitioner should pay attention to the state of mind created when consciousness comes into contact with these internal and external stimuli. In a little while, as these distractions fade away, the practitioner should allow his mind to return to the breath, and every time the mind returns to the breath, the practitioner can cultivate a deep cognition of feelings and thoughts: thoughts and feelings rise and fade away one after another.

Thus the practitioner realizes the impermanent nature of all mental objects (Gunaratana). Gradually, as the practitioner becomes used to the perception of impermanence , she has less selfish-attachment to both positive and negative emotions. She is able to let go of disturbing emotions and thoughts. When we train our minds by concentrating on breathing and as we become familiar with this practice, we can begin to use it in our daily activities without any conscious effort. In other words, we can use the mindfulness that we cultivate by concentrating on the breath, to focus on listening, writing, talking, cleaning, cooking and even driving.

Especially for students, when they struggle with their concentration, they can bring mindfulness practice on the breath to daily studies. For instance, when they read a book they should keep total awareness on the words.

They have to take time and concentrate on their breath until they feel calmness, mentally and physically. This peace of mind helps them to maintain undisturbed bare attention on their studies. I will now explore more clearly how this mindfulness can be implemented by students to cope with negative emotions and feelings such as anger and restlessness arising from their daily lives.