Buddhist mindfulness

The origin and modern application

15 week practitioner course

Based on the over 2,000-year-old original description of the establishment of mindfulness, the Buddhist Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, in this course you will delve into the origins of mindfulness, some of the most meaningful and profound applications of mindfulness, and how this ancient fundamental wisdom can raise the quality radically in today's hectic modern life. Satipaṭṭhāna is originally described as being the 1st essential step on the path to final "awakening", and further described as being a practice followed daily until reaching the ultimate state of enlightenment (if such exists). Today this wisdom enriches us with a very compelling instruction manual on how the human mind works and how we can strengthen it, make it flexible and a useful powerful tool for increasing mental capacity. An indispensable mental craft when we want to take decisive responsibility for the quality of our lives.

The purpose
The purpose of the course, based on a theoretical, historical, practical and scientific basis, is to learn and train you to be able to identify the mental mechanisms that precede the way you perceive your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. Next, you will learn to train and use the psychological tools that the Buddha instructed, so that you can control which thoughts and emotions are allowed to fill at any time, and how you can increase the quality of your life through conscious action.

The learning
Among other things, you will learn how the study and practice of original mindfulness forms the foundation for areas such as being yourself and others with compassion when life is hard, how you can influence your physical and mental health, how you constantly create your life and your future via ethics and karma (action), how the true nature of the mind gives us potential mental freedom, how wisdom can constantly regulate the balance in our lives, how concentration creates calmness in body and mind and increases mental capacity and finally my not at least, how modern research and science, more than 2,000 years later, supports the Buddha's teachings about the mind, its true nature, and how it creates the basis for all of our perceived reality, and thereby the quality of our lives.

You will work with

  • Meditative establishment of mindfulness (Satipaṭṭhāna) as instructed by the Buddha via body, feelings, mind and dharma.
  • Buddhist forms of meditation that support the establishment of mindfulness, including the breathing meditation Ānāpānasati (the Buddha's preferred form of meditation).
  • Connected and disconnected attention and how these are used to create calm and insight.
  • How the human mind works, including our self-perception, perception of others and the world around us.
  • How the practice of mindfulness can be applied directly to eating, and have a profound positive impact on your physical health.
  • Why mindfulness practice is not complete without ethics.
  • The neurobiology of compassion and why compassion and empathy are fundamentally different practices.
  • How to discover deep joy by practicing concentration.
  • How you bring mindfulness into the relationship with your body.
  • How your brain constructs your experience, including the neurobiology and psychology of pain and fear.
  • Mindfulness in relation to illness, aging and death.
  • The Buddha's Quest for Awakening from the perspective of Mindfulness.
  • A historical perspective on the direction that influenced the development of mindfulness in later Buddhist traditions.
  • How mindfulness has moved into Western secular fields of health, psychology and more.

By completing this course you will gain a rich, meaningful and sophisticated understanding of what mindfulness really means and the transformative way it can affect our understanding and perception of ourselves, others and the world around us.

The target group
The course is for those who want a modern in-depth study and practice down to the original Buddhist mindfulness. It is for you who want to step very close to the origin of mindfulness, and tread the tracks that the Buddha presented over 2,500 years ago as the direct path out of mental suffering (dukkha) and into mental strength and freedom (nibbāna ).
If you already have experience with mindfulness from a Western expression such as MBSR or the like, this course will connect your current knowledge to the original Buddhist starting point, and tie it all together on a much deeper level.

The framework
The course lasts a total of 15 weeks, where the teaching takes place once a week and lasts 2 hours. The teaching will take place in Smedjen in Gl. Ølstykke (www.smedjen.dk) or online via Zoom. Approx. 30 minutes of daily practice as homework. In case of physical attendance at Smedjen, there will be free organic coffee, tea, iced water and snacks.

The program

Lesson 1: Introduction
Provides an overview of the entire course and then introduces mindfulness in connection with eating, as a relatable practice with which we can begin to examine what mindfulness actually is. Including how it affects our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and ultimately affects our actions.

Lesson 2: Ethics
In this second lesson, we review how ethics is central to original Buddhist mindfulness, highlighting the ethical perspective that runs throughout Buddhist teachings. We delve into how the mind works in relation to how we perceive ourselves and how we can influence this (karma). Via informal meditation instructions, we expand our attention to be able to see whole situations, instead of just a narrow tunnel vision of ourselves.

Lesson 3: Compassion (karuṇā)
Explores compassion within the framework of the four positive mental states called brahmavihārās (mettā, karuṇā, muditā & upekkhā). These four states oppose harmful states of mind, and their cultivation leads to an opening of the heart. We review research on the neurobiology of compassion and discuss the crucial distinction between compassion and empathy. Compassion can be practiced informally by building on external mindfulness with an opening of the heart.

Lesson 4: The body
The main theme of this lesson is contemplation of the body. After a brief review of the original texts, we examine how different contemplations cultivate different attitudes toward the body, and discuss the deep joy, happiness, and peace born of concentration that can be cultivated through mindfulness of the body. Practice instructions introduce more formal form of meditation practice with body scanning. Continuity of mindfulness can be cultivated by bringing embodied presence to whatever we do.

Lesson 5: Focused attention
This lesson explores mindfulness in relation to focused attention. Mindfulness is characterized by qualities of uninvolved stepping back, observing through a wide-angle lens that differs from focused attention. These two distinct modalities of directed and undirected attention are found in early Buddhism. Over time, the sixteen steps of attention to breathing have gradually been reduced to the mere sense of touch. Practice instructions include a number of opportunities to develop mindfulness of breathing meditation.

Lessons 6 & 7: Wisdom
This lesson introduces formal cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness, the most important teaching on mindfulness in relation to wisdom. Key aspects highlight the nature of the body, affective input, diving beneath the surface of thoughts and associations to capture the underlying state of mind, and cultivating the awakening factors. Meditation instructions offer a simplified exercise for considering body, mind, and the emotional tone that connects the two. Impermanence is the foundation of insight.

Lesson 8: Practice day

Lesson 9: Awareness
The topic of this lesson is unaffected consciousness in relation to the construction of experience. Depending on the emergence as specific conditioning, the acrobat simile and the role of mindfulness are emphasized. We dig into and discuss Sara Lazar's research into how the brain constructs experience, and examine the neurobiology and psychology of pain and fear. Formal meditation instruction builds on previous practice by opening up experience at the sensory doors, simply being aware of what is taking place without doing anything about it.

Lesson 10: Health
Explores the relationship between mindfulness and the potential response to painful emotion. Equal importance is placed on both physical and mental health. Meditation instruction expands on previous practices by exploring a decoupling of physical pain from mental reactivity, with the possibility of just being with what is.

Lesson 11: Death.
Explores how learning to face our own mortality can be uplifting, a source of joy. The key is the need to face our own mortality with a sense of urgency. We take a closer look at common strategies for avoiding our own mortality and explore the benefits of maraṇasati practice. Meditation guidance on remembrance of death is offered.

Lesson 12: The Buddhas' Quest for Awakening
The topic of lesson 12 is the Buddha's quest for awakening from the perspective of mindfulness. Across the account of the Buddha's quest for awakening, mindfulness gradually emerges as a key characteristic of the entire Buddhist soteriology and path to awakening. Mindfulness practice is about doing things in such a way that we will be able to remember them later, about cultivating an attitude of sincere interest. This can transform various situations in formal meditation or daily life.

Lesson 13: Mindfulness in Later Buddhist Traditions
This lesson provides a historical perspective on the trajectory that influenced the development of mindfulness in later traditions. One result is that today practitioners from different traditions have very different ideas about the role of mindfulness. It is important to understand how they developed and not to hold anyone as the "right one". Meditation instructions continue with attention to breathing, placing particular emphasis on the aspect of cessation and the knowing quality of the mind.

Lesson 14: Contemporary Mindfulness
This final lesson explores how mindfulness has moved into Western secular areas of health, psychology, and various related fields, taking aspects of mindfulness teaching and developing them into unique modern applications. We discuss how mindfulness developed in the West, the dimensions of its spread and some of its challenges.

Lesson 15: Practice day

Price and payment: dkr 60.000,- excluding VAT
Settlement is made with an invoice, where payment confirms the process.

The course includes all teaching material such as exercise descriptions and audio files.