1. Mindfulness of body. Beginning with sitting in a quiet place with legs crossed and back straight, mindfulness practice commences with deliberate awareness of breathing, of the tranquilization of body and mind, and with attention to the bodily sensations arising in conjunction with bodily postures, movements, and activities.
2. Mindfulness of feelings. The practice progresses by focusing present moment, nonconceptual awareness upon the the feeling tone running through all arising and passing experience. Whether each moment is accompanied by a pleasant, an unpleasant, or a neutral feeling, the practitioner seeks to know with great precision the feeling tone of the experience.
3. Mindfulness of mind. Shifting attention from bodily sensations and feelings to the purely mental sphere, the meditator is directed to bring awareness to the quality of mind as it arises and passes away moment by moment. This is done by noticing whether any of the three unwholesome roots (greed, hatred, and delusion) are present, or whether they are absent.
4. Mindfulness of mental objects. An even more detailed and nuanced investigation of mental events involves noticing the presence, absence, and changing dynamic of a number of other factors...: hindrances, aggregates, sense spheres, factors of awakening [see yesterday's post], and noble truths. It is not a discursive analysis of these factors, but rather an experiential and intuitive exploration of the texture of the phenomenal landscape.
The idea is to cultivate mindfulness in formal sitting so that we experience it throughout the day, every day. This mindfulness then re-forms our habitual tendencies so that we are more skillful in our dealings and interactions with other people and with life. To use a Twelve-step expression, we learn to take "life on life's terms" instead of demanding that it be other than it is.