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Mindfulness of the brain? - Dhamma Wheel

Mindfulness of the brain?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Awarewolf
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Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Awarewolf » Fri Aug 02, 2013 11:54 pm

Has anyone here tried spending time aware of the brain? As a body part? Like you would the feet in walking or the nostrils in breathing?

Does anyone have thoughts on this?

chownah
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby chownah » Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:48 am

Other than headaches probably not. Sensations at the head can be focused upon but I have never been able to distinguish if it came from the brain or something else. I don't have sensations in the head that enables me to clearly delineate exactly the extents of the brain.....I think it would be sort of like being aware of the gall bladder; unless it has pain from some malfunction it generally provides no sensation or at least not enough for most people to be aware of.....if you thought that you were being aware of the gall bladder how would you know it was actually your gall bladder and not just the bile duct or some nearby tissue?
Of course being aware of the mind is something the Buddha recommends....is this the kind of thing you are asking about?
chownah

mal4mac
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby mal4mac » Sat Aug 03, 2013 10:41 am

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Aloka
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:09 pm


mal4mac
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby mal4mac » Sat Aug 03, 2013 12:55 pm

Thanks Aloka, I liked that quote from Ajahn Chah, but it perhaps need unpacking for my unsatisfactory brain :)

In regard to nails, do we just have to consider them for a few moments until we see how they are impermanent, unsatisfactory and not-self? So ... nails are impermanent, obviously, we need to cut them, unsatisfactory... it's hasstle cutting them, cut badly and it hurts! They are about obviously not a part of your essential self, cut them and is there any loss of self?!

So do you just go through the 32 body parts in this way, once, and that's it, job done? Can you now get on with anapansati and forget about doing "body scan" meditation?

Is brain one of the thirty two body parts?

Problem... you never see or feel a brain, unless you go to an autopsy!

Is watching CSI a good idea? You see a lot of unsatisfactory, impermanent brains on that programme, and you see any possible "essential" self is gone after the shooting, or whatever...

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reflection
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby reflection » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:08 pm

Funny thing to know is that the brain is commentarial addition to the body parts. The suttas contain 31 body parts, correct me if I'm wrong.
But it is not a bad addition. Other parts are things like oil in the joints, where we obviously have no direct perceptions of either.

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Aloka
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Aloka » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:21 pm


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reflection
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby reflection » Sat Aug 03, 2013 1:30 pm

I think that is also considered a later addition to the canon.

But I don´t think it matters too much if brain is one of the original body parts or not because there are other parts missing as well. I think the parts are just mentioned as a general idea on what to contemplate.

Majjhima Patipada
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Majjhima Patipada » Sun Aug 04, 2013 2:51 pm

As a life-long student of the brain (academically, professionally, and recreationally), "mindfulness of the brain" is something I do practice. It takes a thorough knowledge of functional anatomy and the biochemical basis of neural activity in order to practice it in the way you may be thinking. This can include "mindfulness of amygdalic activity and noreprinephrine release at synaptic terminals" as a simple example with which others are likely to have some familiarity due to the connection to anxiety and the fear response. In fact, this type of mindfulness exercise is on occasional taught in psychiatric/therapeutic settings and in MBSR courses. This, of course, is a modern development and is not taught in such a way in traditional Buddhist circles.

mal4mac
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby mal4mac » Wed Aug 07, 2013 8:59 pm

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Samma
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Samma » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:52 pm

The Visuddhimagga suggests the enumeration of the 31 body parts implicitly includes the brain in aṭṭhimiñjaṃ, which is traditionally translated as "bone marrow".[20] (wikipedia)

I remember hearing somewhere that 32 parts is essentially a foulness contemplation, as those are the parts that tend to break down, get diseased, etc.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patikulamanasikara

Visuddhimagga also mentions this contemplation is sutible for concentration, which is interesting. Does contemplating the foul give rise to some of the delightful and bliss of concentration or mainly equanimity which would make sense.

So whether you include the brain or not, the purpose seems to be for cultivating concentration as equanimity, or perhaps seeing things as they are, not just getting caught up with craving on the good aspects, and dispassion towards the body.

Samma
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby Samma » Wed Aug 07, 2013 11:59 pm


mal4mac
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby mal4mac » Thu Aug 08, 2013 8:23 am

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daverupa
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Re: Mindfulness of the brain?

Postby daverupa » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:54 pm



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