In sports, music, management, in all walks of life, and in all sorts of skills no matter how much experience we have, the key to success is to KNOW THE FUNDAMENTALS. It’s the same for mindfulness, and there are four fundamentals in Mindfulness.
And by applying them to the challenges you face in life, you can overcome any constraint or problem you might be facing. But before digging deeper: think of them as some basic principles, building blocks, and essential training for your mind.
The mindfulness fundamentals are especially useful when your mind isn’t serving you well, when that voice in your head, that inner narrator in your mind that comments throughout the day, and give you all sorts of terrible advice and thoughts.
For instance, “Be jealous of that person!”, “Lose your temper over something trivial!”, “You are not good enough!”, “You’re a failure!”, etc.
Sometimes the voice is just distracting and useless, like how neuroscientists Sam Harris describes his inner voice-
“…Kidnapped by the most boring person alive who says the same stuff over and over, most of it negative…”
Mindfulness fundamentals don’t make the negative inner voice go away but as you’ll see throughout this post they enable you to use your mind FOR YOU instead of against you. They create space for you to respond insightfully rather than react carelessly.
What Is Mindfulness Meditation?
Mindfulness meditation is a simple, powerful technique that reduces stress and promotes well-being. Backed by over 30 years of research, mindfulness meditation develops awareness of thoughts, emotions, and the body. This awareness allows you to identify sources of stress and anxiety before they intensify and become overwhelming.
There’s nothing mystical about mindfulness. To be mindful simply means to be aware and engage with what’s happening right now. It’s about being in the moment. If you’ve ever become absorbed in a crossword puzzle or a board game, sung your heart out, or “lost” yourself in a book or a film, a letter you were writing, or work that you were doing – then you’ve experienced mindfulness; you’ve been totally in the moment.
You can become mindful at any moment. You can do it right now. Stop everything. Focus on what’s happening. What can you hear? What can you smell? Look straight ahead; what do you see? What can you feel? What can you taste? Don’t give it any thought; you don’t need to like or dislike, approve or disapprove of what’s happening.
You simply need to be aware of it. Even if nothing is there, just be aware of your breathing; the sensation of the air as it enters your nose or mouth and fills your lungs, and as it goes out again. Does all this seem a bit pointless? How can this non-doing approach be of any value? Let me explain.
The ability to think; think back on past events, and think about the future – to plan – is a feature that defines us as humans. As well to be capable of thinking about things that are happening, we can think about: things that did and didn’t happen things that have happened things that might happen things that may never happen at all. But thinking is not always an unmitigated blessing.
Too often, your thoughts can trap you; trap you in the past, and trap you in the future. If you’re ruminating about events and going back over them again and again then you’re living in the past. You’re trapped there. Other times, you can be fretting about what lies ahead; anxious and worried: you’re trapped in the future. And all the time your mind is chattering with commentary or judgment.
What occurs as a result is that there’s no time to experience what’s happening right now because you’re distracted by what may happen tomorrow and next week or maybe you’re too busy worrying about what you did or failed to do yesterday. Even when nothing much is happening, something is happening. Typically for most of us, it is thinking. Thinking is happening.
Rather than simply being aware of what’s happening, we’re thinking about what is – or is not – happening. The thinking seems to be our default setting. If you’ve ever tried to meditate, the first thing you will notice is that your mind has a life of its own. It just goes on and on: thinking, musing, fantasizing, planning, anticipating, worrying, liking, disliking, remembering, forgetting, evaluating, reacting, and so on.
Related: Mindfulness: A Definitive Guide!
What are Mindfulness Fundamentals?
We are so busy in our everyday lives that we rarely stop to think and be aware of our surroundings. However, this is harmful, as it prevents us from being calmer – both in terms of relaxing our body, but also quieting the internal chatter in our minds.
In this article, you are going to learn more about the fundamentals of mindfulness and its foundations. Also the elements such as presence, awareness, self-acceptance, and others. All of these contribute to being more present and aware in everyday life, which has multiple beneficial consequences:
- Being less stressed and more relaxed;
- Being in better health (breathing better and being less tense);
- And, being less negative and judgmental (both about events and yourself);
This article will be especially helpful to you if:
- You frequently judge yourself or don’t accept certain parts of yourself;
- You still ruminate on past events and are not able to gain closure on them;
- And, you are frequently stressed with situations;
- You feel like you are not “present”, living in a world full of distractions and escapes;
This article will tell you both about the core principles of mindfulness, as well as some exercises to help cultivate it. By the time you’re done, you will be able to cultivate a calmer, more aware, more relaxed presence.
There are Four Fundamentals of Mindfulness:
- Mindfulness fundamentals no. 1- Noticing
- Mindfulness fundamental no. 2- Acknowledging
- Mindfulness fundamental no. 3- Recentering
- Mindfulness fundamental no. 4- Meditating
Note: We’ll discuss these four mindfulness fundamentals later in this article.
Foundations of Mindfulness
Bhikkhus, this is the direct path for the purification of beings, for the surmounting of sorrow and lamentation, for the disappearance of pain and grief, for the attainment of the true way, for the realization of Nibbana—namely, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
Mindfulness of the Body
Mindfulness of the breath. And, mindfulness of the four postures: walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. Mindfulness with clear comprehension: of what is beneficial, of suitability, of the meditator’s domain, of non-delusion. Reflection on the thirty-two parts of the body. Analysis of the four elements. Nine cemetery contemplations.
Mindfulness of Feelings
Pleasant, painful, and neither-painful nor pleasant feelings, worldly and spiritual. Awareness of their manifestation, arising, and disappearance.
Mindfulness of Mind
Understanding the mind as greedy or not greedy, hateful or not hateful, deluded or not deluded, contracted or distracted, not developed or developed, not supreme or supreme, not concentrated or concentrated, not liberated or liberated. Awareness of its manifestation, arising, and disappearance.
Mindfulness of Dhamma
FIVE MENTAL HINDRANCES
Sense desire, ill will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and worry, skeptical doubt—awareness of their manifestation, origin, and disappearance.
FIVE AGGREGATES OF CLINGING
Material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. Awareness of their manifestation, arising, and dissolution.
SIX INTERNAL AND SIX EXTERNAL SENSE BASES
Eye and visible objects, ear and sounds, nose and smells, tongue and tastes, body and tangible objects, mind and mental objects. Knowledge of them, and the arising, abandoning, and future non-arising of the fetters that originate dependently on both.
SEVEN FACTORS OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Mindfulness, investigation of Dhamma, energy, joy, tranquillity, concentration, and equanimity. Knowledge of their presence, their arising, and their development.
FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Suffering, its origin, its cessation, and the path that leads to the cessation of suffering.
NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Skillful understanding, thinking, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration.
Bhikkhus, if anyone should properly develop these Four Foundations of Mindfulness for seven years … or even for seven days, one of two fruits could be expected for that person: either final knowledge here and now, or, if there is a trace of clinging left, the state of non-returning.
Fundamentals of Meditation
There are Five Fundamentals of Meditation:
- Breath as a point of focus. There are many things you can place your attention on during the meditation, including a part of your body, distant sounds, the space around you, a mantra, or an image.
- Observer of thoughts.
- Intention setting.
- Surrender expectations
- Acknowledge and accept emotion.
Why Learn Mindfulness?
The most common understanding of mindfulness is that of present-moment awareness, presence of mind, and wakefulness. This is the opposite of absentmindedness. Whenever we’re lost or confused about what to do, we can simply come back to the present-moment experience.
Mindfulness is the quality of bare attention, of noninterfering awareness, which we’re familiar with from our enjoyment of music. When we’re listening to the music, our minds are open and attentive, not attempting to control what comes next, not reflecting on the notes just past. There is great power when we learn how to listen; it is this quality of receptivity that allows intuitive wisdom to arise.
Mindfulness also works to balance what the Buddha called “the five spiritual faculties”: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration, and wisdom. And one way we can understand our entire spiritual journey is through the strengthening and balancing of these faculties.
Mindfulness makes us aware when any of them are deficient or in excess; for example, it balances faith and wisdom, energy and concentration. When we have too much faith, we can become dogmatic, attached to our views. And we can see all too often how this blind belief leads to so much conflict and suffering in the world.
Courses On Mindfulness Training and Mindful Foundation
Coursera’s Foundations of Mindfulness Course: About this Course
This course provides a broad overview of the fundamental concepts, principles, and practices of mindfulness. With interactive exercises to help students explore their attitudes, mental habits, and behaviors, Foundations of Mindfulness offers a pathway for living with more freedom, authenticity, and ease. Featured components of the course include experiential exercises, guided meditations, personal reflection, and interactive discussions.
Note: You can enroll for free, click here to enroll.
Mindfulness Essentials Series:
Four Fundamentals of Mindfulness-
1. Mindfulness fundamentals no. 1- Noticing
Tracking your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they come and go, without getting carried away by them.
For Example, you are standing on a ledge behind a waterfall that is flowing down right in front of you. You can see and hear the water but it’s not falling directly on you, you can watch the flow of water as it comes and goes as well, and how it keeps coming and going but not immersed in it.
And you are not in any danger of being swept off your feet and getting downstream with it. In this metaphor, the waterfall is the flow of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Usually, we are in the waterfall, flowing along with our thoughts, feelings, and sensations throughout the day and that’s where noticing comes in as another option, being able to stand back and observe them.
2. Mindfulness Fundamental no. 2- Acknowledging
Accepting your thoughts, feelings, and sensations as-is, without judgment or evaluation.
Acknowledging has no agenda, simply letting your thoughts feelings, and sensations be what it is in this moment. You can make other choices soon enough if you want, but first, let it be so you can do whatever you want with it instead of it doing something with you.
3. Mindfulness Fundamental no. 3- Recentering
Bring your awareness HERE and NOW. Recentering supports the first two fundamentals: Noticing and Acknowledges. Because we will get carried away in our thoughts, feelings, and Sensations, and we will start judging and evaluating them. That’s why recentering is essential.
4. Mindfulness Fundamental no. 4- Meditating
Focus on being, instead of just doing.
For instance, when Nelson Mandela first came to France, finally a free man, a South African leader, and a role model around the world. Reporters asked him “what he most wanted to do the most in France?” See the Eiffel tower, eat in great restaurants or listen to great musicians. Mandela then replied and said the thing he most wanted to do was- “To sit and do nothing”.
He then explained, that ever since I got out of prison I haven’t had time to sit down and do anything. It wasn’t because he was physically tired, because he didn’t say I need to catch up on my sleep or I need some rest. He knew what he was exactly saying, sit and do nothing. It’s a subtle but crucial difference: he wanted to stop all, stop doing, and just be.
As modern life harasses us constantly to do, do, and do. Doing mode and overload even becomes part of our identity, who we think we are. Regularly taking breaks from doing mode not only helps us become much better, but it also helps us do much better. It’s a perfect transition to expand on our fourth fundamental which is Meditation.
Meditating is a method that focuses on being, instead of just doing. Meditation integrates the first three fundamentals in an intentional way.
Here’s a simple way to do it-
Set aside some free time to sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. When your mind wanders as it always will follow the first three fundamentals in order.
For instance- NOTICE where your mind goes, without getting stuck in it, ACKNOWLEDGE without judging it, then RECENTER by drawing your attention back to your breathing.
Keep practicing the mindfulness fundamentals and you will often find them, crucially valuable at a moment’s notice. In Mindfulness, just like any sport, the fundamentals are essential. Although in mindfulness, unlike in sports, you never lose, because in mindfulness there is no opponent, only improvement.