Welcome to

The Foundations of Mindfulness

A Wisdom Academy Online Course with Venerable Bhikkhu Anālayo

This course will run for the second time starting October 2, 2020. Enroll now to save your seat!

Enrolled students will have ongoing access and can take the course at their own pace. The course will become available to All-Access members of the Wisdom Experience later in the year.

In this course, you’ll discover some of the most meaningful and profound applications of mindfulness, under the guidance of renowned scholar-monk Venerable Bhikkhu Anālayo and a group of expert guest teachers. You’ll learn how the study and practice of mindfulness intersects with areas such as compassion, ethics, wisdom, concentration, and more. By completing this course, you’ll gain a rich, meaningful, and sophisticated understanding of what mindfulness really means, and the transformative way it can affect our understanding of reality.

Click here to learn more about our guest teachers, and here to learn more about the assistant teachers who will be providing support in the forums.


Please Note

  • The views expressed by individuals in Wisdom Academy course videos are solely those of the individuals themselves, and do not represent opinions held by Wisdom Publications.
  • As an act of Dhammadāna, Ven. Anālayo has waived royalty payments for this course. The assistant teachers, who offer support and answer questions in the course forums, are compensated for their efforts through the generosity of the course participants. The Insight Meditation Society follows the ancient Buddhist practice of dana, or generosity, through which monastics are supported by their students. Following that tradition, participants will receive at the end of the course an email with a link allowing them to offer a donation to the assistant teachers.

What You’ll Learn

  • How the practice of mindfulness can be directly applied to eating and have a profoundly positive affect on your physical health
  • Why mindfulness practice is not complete without the component of ethics
  • The neurobiology of compassion, and why compassion and empathy are crucially different practices
  • How to discover deep joy through the practice of concentration
  • How to bring mindfulness into your relationship with your body
  • How to cultivate the awakening factors
  • The role that understanding impermanence plays in developing insight
  • 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 of the trajectory that influenced development of mindfulness in later traditions
  • How mindfulness has been moving into western secular areas of health, psychology, and various related areas
  • and much more.

Lessons

1

Lesson 1: Mindful Eating

Lesson 1 provides an overview of the course and then introduces mindfulness of eating, a relatable practice with which to start investigating mindfulness.

2

Lesson 2: Ethics of Mindfulness

Lesson release date: May 15, 2020, 9 AM Eastern US Time.

In this second lesson, Bhikkhu Anālayo discusses how ethics is central to early Buddhist thought, highlighting the ethical perspective that runs through the whole of the teachings. Bonnie Duran, guest lecturer, speaks about how this changed when mindfulness came to the west and the component of ethics was to some extent lost. Informal meditation instructions broaden the lens of external mindfulness, to see the whole of the situation rather than just a narrow tunnel view of self.

3

Lesson 3: Mindfulness and Compassion

Lesson release date: May 22, 2020, 9 AM Eastern US Time.

Lesson three explores compassion within the context of the four positive mental attitudes called brahmaviharas, divine abodes, or boundless states. These four states oppose detrimental states of mind, and their cultivation leads to an opening of the heart. Diego Hangartner, guest lecturer, presents research on the neurobiology of compassion, and discusses the crucial distinction between compassion and empathy. Compassion can be practiced informally by building on external mindfulness with an opening of the heart.

4

Lesson 4: Embodied Mindfulness

Lesson release date: May 29, 2020, 9 AM Eastern US Time.

The main theme of this lesson is contemplation of the body. Following a brief survey of oral transmission, Bhikkhu Anālayo examines how various contemplations cultivate different attitudes towards the body, and discusses the deep joy, happiness, and equanimity born of concentration that can be cultivated through mindfulness of the body. Practice instructions introduce more formal type of meditation practice with walking meditation. Continuity of mindfulness can be cultivated by bringing embodied presence to whatever we are doing.

5

Lesson 5: Mindfulness and Focused Attention

Lesson release date: June 5, 2020, 9 AM Eastern US Time.

This lesson explores mindfulness in relation to focused attention. Mindfulness is characterized by qualities of non-involved stepping back, observing through a broad-angle lens—which differs from focused attention. These two distinct modalities of directed and undirected attention are found in early Buddhism. Over time the sixteen steps of mindfulness of breathing have been gradually reduced to just the touch sensation. Practice instructions include a range of options for developing mindfulness of breathing meditation.

6

Lesson 6: Mindfulness and Wisdom

Lesson release date: June 12, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

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, dipping below the surface of thoughts and associations to catch the underlying condition of mind, and cultivating the awakening factors. Meditation instructions offer a simplified practice for contemplating body, mind, and the feeling tone that connects the two. Impermanence is the foundation for insight.

7

Lesson 7: Bare Awareness

Lesson release date: June 19, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

The topic of this lesson is bare awareness in relation to the construction of experience. Dependent arising as specific conditionality, the acrobat simile, and the role of mindfulness are highlighted. Sara Lazar, guest presenter, discusses her research on how the brain constructs experience, examining the neurobiology and psychology of pain and fear. Formal meditation instructions build on previous practice by opening up to experience at the sense doors, simply being aware of what takes place without doing anything about it.

8

Lesson 8: Mindfulness and Health

Lesson release date: June 26, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

Lesson 8 explores the relationship of mindfulness to the potential arising of reactivity to painful feeling. Equal emphasis is given to both bodily and mental health. Jon Kabat-Zinn joins Bhikkhu Anālayo in a conversation about MBSR and the benefits of mindfulness related to pain, sickness, and aging. Meditation instructions extend previous practices by exploring a decoupling of physical pain from mental reactivity, with the possibility of just being with what is.

9

Lesson 9: Mindfulness of Death

Lesson release date: July 3, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

Lesson 9 explores how learning to face our own mortality can be enlivening, a source of joy. The key is the need to face our own mortality with a sense of urgency. Nikki Mirghafori, guest presenter, discusses common strategies for avoiding the fact of our own mortality, and explores benefits of maraṇasati practice. Meditation instructions on recollection of death are offered.

10

Lesson 10: Mindfulness in the Buddha’s Quest for Awakening

Lesson release date: July 10, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

The topic of lesson 10 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 quality in the whole of Buddhist soteriology and the path to awakening. Mindfulness practice is about doing things in such a way that we will later be able to remember them, about cultivating an attitude of sincere interest. This can transform different situations in formal meditation or daily life.

11

Lesson 11: Mindfulness in Later Buddhist Traditions

Lesson release date: July 17, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

This lesson provides a historical perspective of the trajectory that influenced the development of mindfulness in later traditions. An outcome is that nowadays practitioners from various traditions have very different ideas about the role of mindfulness. It is important to understand how they developed and to not hold any as the “right” one. Meditation instructions continue with mindfulness of breathing, giving particular importance to the aspect of cessation and to the knowing quality of the mind.

12

Lesson 12: Contemporary Mindfulness

Lesson release date: July 24, 2020 at 9 AM US Eastern Time.

This last lesson explores how mindfulness has been moving into western secular areas of health, psychology, and various related areas, taking up aspects of mindfulness teachings and developing them further into unique applications. Nirbhay Singh, guest presenter, discusses how mindfulness developed in the west, the dimensions of its spread, and some of its challenges. Bhikkhu Anālayo concludes on the topic of mindfully facing climate change.

About the Teacher

Bhikkhu Anālayo is a scholar-monk and the author of numerous books on meditation and early Buddhism, such as Satipatthāna: The Direct Path to Realization, Perspectives on Satipatthāna, and Satipatthāna Meditation: A Practice Guide. His main area of academic research is early Buddhism, with a special interest in the topics of meditation and women in Buddhism. Bhikkhu Anālayo was born in Germany in 1962 and ordained in Sri Lanka in 1995. In the year 2000 he completed a PhD thesis on the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta at the University of Peradeniya (published by Windhorse in the UK). In the year 2007 he completed a Habilitation research at the University of Marburg, in which he compared the Majjhima-nikāya discourses with their Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan counterparts. Besides his academic activities, he regularly teaches meditation.

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