Exercises: Buddha on Body (Set 1)

Reference: Mindfulness Approach
Note: These exercises are derived directly from Buddhist scriptures, specifically, from Satipatthana Sutta: The Foundations of Mindfulness.

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After one is able to discern the physical perceptions from the environment comfortably, one is ready to discern perceptions from the body, such as, pain, sensations and impulses. We start with the discernment of impulses associated with breathing.

The student observes breathing in its natural state without interfering with it. He watches the breath going in and out under its own impulse.

This is a major exercise because when one engages in it, one starts to become aware of many things going inside him. The mental chaos may present itself in many different ways. Therefore, the practice of mindfulness is extremely important for the safe execution of this exercise.

The student does not avoid, resist, suppress, deny or, otherwise, interfere with the activity of the body and the mind, while keeping his attention on breathing.

This exercise may appear difficult at first, because it essentially requires that the student transfer all his control to the body and mind. The student’s actually becomes part of the process.This may take some getting used to. One should ease into it gradually.

Ease into this exercise gradually by letting go of your conscious control on a gradient.

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EXERCISE # 1: BREATHING

PURPOSE:  To practice mindfulness of breathing 

PREREQUISITE:  Review Discerning the Environment.

GUIDING PRINCIPLE: The Discipline of Mindfulness

STEPS:

  1. You may do this exercise while sitting quietly or while walking or doing your chores in an easygoing manner.

  2. Be attentive of your breathing. Make no attempt to regulate the breathing. Simply observe the natural pattern of breath going in and out.

  3. Observe the impulse that is making the breath to go in. Observe the impulse that is making the breath to go out.

  4. Become aware of when the breath is long and when it is short.

  5. During this exercise various thoughts may come up. Simply become aware of them without avoiding, resisting, suppressing or denying anything from occurring.

  6. During this exercise you may feel various sensations throughout the body. Simply become aware of them without avoiding, resisting, suppressing or denying anything from occurring.

  7. During this exercise you may feel various impulses coming from the mind. Simply become aware of them without avoiding, resisting, suppressing or denying anything from occurring.

  8. Become fully aware of the physical perceptions from the environment.

  9. Simply discern whatever is involved in breathing.

  10. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  11. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  12. When this exercise is completed the student may proceed to the next exercise.

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The following exercises help discern various aspects of the body. These aspects shall be common with others as to how they discern their own body.

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EXERCISE # 2: BODY POSTURE

PURPOSE:  To discern the postures of the body under the discipline of mindfulness.

PREREQUISITE: Review Exercise # 1 above.

STEPS:

  1. You may do this exercise anywhere. Simply know the posture of the body at every moment.

  2. Keep the discipline of mindfulness throughout this exercise. In other words,  be grounded in what you are focusing on, while not interfering with whatever else is going on in the mind, and, furthermore, opening the mind to the widest context possible.

  3. When you are going, discern the posture of the body in going.

  4. When you are standing, discern the posture of the body in standing.

  5. When you are sitting, discern the posture of the body in sitting.

  6. When you are lying down, discern the posture of the body in lying down.

  7. Just as the body is disposed so you know it.

  8. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  9. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  10. When this exercise is completed you may proceed to the next exercise.

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EXERCISE # 3: BODY ACTIVITY

PURPOSE:  To discern the activities of the body under the discipline of mindfulness.

PREREQUISITE: Review Exercise # 2 above.

STEPS:

  1. You may do this exercise anywhere. Simply know the activity of the body at every moment.

  2. Keep the discipline of mindfulness throughout this exercise. In other words,  be grounded in what you are focusing on, while not interfering with whatever else is going on in the mind, and, furthermore, opening the mind to the widest context possible.

  3. Clearly discern the body in going forward and back.

  4. Clearly discern the body in looking straight on and looking away;

  5. Clearly discern the body in bending and in stretching;

  6. Clearly discern the body in wearing clothes and carrying the books;

  7. Clearly discern the body in eating, drinking, chewing and savoring;

  8. Clearly discern the body in walking, in standing, in sitting, in falling asleep, in waking,

  9. Clearly discern the body in speaking and in keeping silence.

  10. This exercise is done for 20 minute, which is the normal duration of a session. Several sessions may be given during a day, and over the course of days, until progress is observed.

  11. This exercise is completed when it becomes effortless.

  12. When this exercise is completed you may proceed to the next exercise.

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