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Lions Roar : November 2017
BEGINNER’S MIND When I see pictures in the media of people meditating, they usually have their palms up with their index fingers and thumbs making a circle. Is this the right hand position for Buddhist meditation? Hand positions are called mudras, and they are meant to encourage certain states of mind. The hand posi- tion you see depicted is widely taught in yoga to pro- mote deep diaphragm breathing and concentration. In Hinduism, it symbolizes union with the divine. We are not aware of it being used in Buddhist meditation. There are two mudras commonly used in Bud- dhist meditation. In the first, called “resting the mind,” you place your hands face down on your knees or thighs, with the upper arms parallel to the torso. This allows your hands to relax and promotes a straight but not stiff back. The other common hand position is the “cosmic mudra,” which is widely used in Zen. In this mudra, DHARMA FAQS We answer your questions about Buddhism & meditation. BUDDHISM BY THE NUMBERS THE FOUR FOUNDATIONS of mindfulness, pre- sented most prominently in the Satipatthana Sutra, is the Buddha’s fundamental teaching on meditation. Common to all Buddhist traditions, it is a systematic guide to practicing mindfulness in progressive stages. Mindfulness of Body: Full awareness of the experience of being in a body, including the sensation of breath- ing, posture, movement of and within the body, the weightiness of one’s body, its impermanence, and so on. This grounds you in the present moment. Mindfulness of Feeling (vedana): Paying attention to and noting pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feel- ings. This is the most rudimentary level of feeling, not the kind of “feelings” we identify as emotion. Being mindful of feeling at this level allows you to develop nonjudgmental awareness of whatever comes up. Mindfulness of Mind: Being aware of thoughts and emotions as they arise, dwell, and pass away. This allows you to see the transient and insubstantial qual- ity of the thought processes and emotional filters that guide our actions. Mindfulness of Mental Objects: Paying attention to the totality of our experience, encompassing whatever mental qualities and phenomena (dharmas) emerge moment by moment. By seeing how we attempt to construct a coherent world from a series of mental events, we come to understand the impermanent nature of existence. ILLUSTRATIONSBYNOLANPELLETIERRAYFENWICK LION’S ROAR | NOVEMBER 2017 32