Week 10: Clear Knowing and Mindfulness on Parts of the Body


Last week Joseph Goldstein focused on Mindfulness of Body Postures in order to strengthen our continuity of awareness, reveal our state of mind and increase our understanding of the three characteristics: annica (impermanence), suffering (dukkha) and selflessness (anatta).  Joseph reminded us that practice of even one aspect of the teachings will illuminate the whole dharma.

In this week’s talk on Clear Knowing and Mindfulness on Parts of the Body  (link to audio is here), Joseph describes Mindfulness of Activities and “clearly knowing” or “clear comprehension” (sampajanna) as described in the Satipatthana Sutta. We can train ourselves in clear knowing in four ways:

*recognizing the motivation behind an action: knowing the purpose of an action before we do it.
*knowing the suitability of an action: being aware of the context of our activities and how they affect others.
*knowing the fields of practice: comprehending clearly the domains of practice, which can guide appropriate self restraint.

*understanding non-delusion: knowing the impermanent, unreliable and selfless nature of phenomena.

Goldstein further directs our attention to Mindfulness of Physical Characteristics which includesreally looking at the body” to recognize our organs as impersonal, impermanent, and interdependent, so that we may begin to relinquish grasping. He briefly describes asubha meditations which contemplate the ‘non-beautiful’ aspects of the body.


1.  Regarding the Mindfulness of Activities:  Of the four ways of training in clear comprehension, is there one you recognize more during your practice of Mindfulness of Body?

2.  Joseph mentions the importance of self restraint within the four domains of practice.  How do you think knowing the four domains is relevant to self-restraint?

3.  Do you find self restraint 'burdensome'? Have you recognized 'the flavor of' liberation that is possible in self restraint?

4.  Can you relate to Mara as the embodiment of delusion, keeping us ensnared? Was it helpful to see Mara outside of ourselves for recognizing unskillful motivations?

5.  Regarding the Mindfulness of Physical Characteristics: Goldstein asks us to contemplate why the Buddha taught the non-beautiful aspects of body. What are your thoughts about this?

6.  If anyone has practiced contemplating anatomical parts as described in the teaching, please describe it for us.



1. Try sitting with intention of benefit to all beings, or ‘dedicating the merit’ of your sitting.

2. Notice doing something unmindful, go back and do it again.

3. Visualize food processing in your body after a meal.