DhammaWheel member Bhante Yuttadhammo
has written about this on his website:
''To simplify this process, we traditionally separate the experience of reality into four parts.(2) Everything we experience will fit into one of these four categories, and so if we can remember these four, it will allow us to develop a comprehensive and systematic meditative interaction with the world around us. For this reason, it is customary to memorize these for categories before proceeding with the meditation practice. The four categories are:
1. Body – the movements and postures of the body;
2. Feelings – the sensations that exists in the body and in the mind – pain, happiness, calm, etc.;
3. Mind – the thoughts that arise in the mind; thoughts of the past or future, wholesome or unwholesome thoughts; 4. The Dhammas – groups of mental and physical phenomena that are of specific interest to the meditator, including the mental states that cloud one’s awareness, the six senses by which one experiences reality, and many others.(3) These four, the body, the feelings, the thoughts, and the dhammas are the four foundations of the meditation practice. This set of objects is what we use to create clear awareness of the present moment.
So in regards to the body, we can note every physical movement – when we stretch our arm for example, we can say to ourselves silently in the mind, “stretching”. When we flex it, “flexing”. Or, in noting the postures of the body, when we are sitting still we can say to ourselves, “sitting”. When we walk, we can say to ourselves, “walking”. Whatever position the body is in, we simply recognize that posture for what it is, and whatever movement we make, we simply recognize its essential nature as well, using the mantra to remind ourselves of the state of the body as it is. The body is thus one part of reality that we can use to create a clear awareness of reality.
Next are the feelings that exist in the body and the mind. When we feel pain in the body, we can say to ourselves, “pain”. In this case, we can actually repeat it again and again to ourselves, as “pain … pain … pain”. In this way, instead of allowing anger or aversion to arise in relation to the pain, we are able to remind ourselves that it is merely a sensation that has arisen in the body, coming to see that the pain itself is one thing and our dislike of the pain is another, and that there is really nothing intrinsically “bad” about the pain itself.
When we feel happy, we can acknowledge it in the same way, reminding ourselves of the true nature of the experience, as “happy, happy, happy”. In this way, we are not pushing away the pleasurable sensation, but we are not attaching to it either, and therefore not creating states of addiction, attachment, and craving for happiness. As with the pain, we come to see that the happiness and our liking of it are two different things, and there is nothing intrinsically “good” about the happiness. We see that clinging to the happiness does not make it last longer, but does lead to dissatisfaction and suffering when it is gone.
Likewise, when we feel calm, we can say “calm, calm, calm” and so on, to avoid attachment to peaceful feelings when they arise. Through the practice, we begin to see that the less attachment we have towards peaceful feelings, the more peaceful we actually become.
The third foundation is our thoughts. When we remember events in the past, whether they be events that bring pleasure or suffering, we can say to ourselves, “thinking, thinking”. Instead of letting them becoming something good or something bad, giving rise to attachment or aversion, we simply know them for what they are: thoughts. When we plan or speculate about the future, we likewise simply come to be aware of the fact that we are thinking, instead of liking or disliking or becoming attached to the thoughts, and we thus do not allow fear, worry, or stress to arise.
The fourth foundation contains many groupings of mental and physical phenomena that could be included in the first three foundations, but are better discussed in their respective groups for ease of acknowledgement. I will talk about the six senses in the lesson on practice in daily life. Here, for the benefit of beginner meditators, I will confine the discussion to the first group, the five hindrances to mental clarity. These are all the states that will obstruct our practice – desire, aversion, laziness, distraction, and doubt. These states are not only a hindrance to attaining clarity of mind, but are also a cause for suffering and stress in our daily lives. It is thus in our best interests to work intently on understanding and discarding from our minds these obstructions to peace and happiness, as this is the true purpose of meditation after all.
So when we feel greed, when we want something we don’t have, or are attached to something we do, we simply acknowledge the wanting or the liking for what it is, rather than erroneously translating desire into need, reminding ourselves of the emotion for what it is, “wanting, wanting”, or “liking, liking”. We come to see that both desire and attachment are stressful and a cause for future disappointment when we cannot obtain the things we want or lose the things we love.
When we feel angry, upset by a mental or physical phenomena the has arisen, or disappointed by one that has not; when we are sad, frustrated, bored, scared, depressed, etc., we simply know the emotion for what it is, “angry, angry”, “sad, sad”, etc., and see that we are only causing suffering and stress for ourselves by encouraging these negative emotional states.
When we feel lazy, we can say to ourselves, “lazy, lazy”, and we will find that we suddenly have our natural energy back. When we are distracted, worried or stressed, we can say, “distracted, distracted”, “worried, worried”, or “stressed, stressed”. When we feel doubt, unsure if we can do things we need to do, or are not sure what to do, or are confused, we can say to ourselves “doubting, doubting” or “confused, confused”. ''http://yuttadhammo.sirimangalo.org/arti ... editation/