Bhikku Analayo’s satipatthana meditation method seems to be interesting. His meditation method consists of an anatomical scan and cemetery contemplations Which is not common among modern day meditators. After following his instructions I found his method to be of great results and I consider it as a method which reveals the doctrine of anatta more significantly
Exploring the Four Satipatthanas in Study and Practice
by Bhikkhu Analayo
“In what follows I explore the practice of the four satipatthanas from a first-person perspective, based on combining understandings gained through academic and traditional modes of learning.”
Thanks for u r response deva Rupa. I read this article about month ago . I would like to know ur point of view on this method of practice.
It’s quite suitable.
I enjoy having the Nikaya/Agama comparisons in place so that the simplest structure of satipatthana can be seen. I use the sort of framework & approach that Analayo has described, with some alterations based on my individual case:
Anatomy - I use skin/fascia/organs/bone, and since I had a total colectomy back in the day I can also look at the emptiness of that organ, seeing its dissolution already in my life.
Elements - I use ideas about cells & molecules, here. This is also the easiest foundation for me to combine internal & external approaches.
In both cases, Crohn’s Disease has made anatomical awareness something I’ve practiced for a long while; eating especially has been relatively easy to moderate & sustain awareness about.)
Feelings - This is usually the easiest way for me to tune in to the sense spheres in general; from here I can move to the body or the mind in particular.
Mind - Here, I strive to watch whatever arises with equanimity at first; whether wholesome or unwholesome, I try to see the causes clearly, and to meet it all with sympathetic compassion while engaging suitable effort. (I will also sometimes watch the constructed-ness of the mind, how anything in there is based on the other senses & their data.)
This of course leads directly to working with the hindrances & the awakening factors. With the mind, I don’t play “whack-a-mole” with unwholesome things, but rather simply look, see whence they grew, and then watch for that soil in the future in order to respond with wiser attention and more relaxed restraint.
(I’ve also gained from a few psycho-therapeutic adventures; engaging MBCT & DBT & so on with a good therapist can help with a lot of preliminary work, depending on the person & their background.)
These foundations for mindfulness are engaged in any posture. If I’m going to try for a concerted seated effort I’ll treat the breath as a metronome overtop an existing seated satipatthana, of whatever tetrad. Then, with the breath rolling along, I seek to relinquish & let go active involvement with that.
Excellent! Thanks a lot for u r response once again. Let me put forward something which is related to meditation -while scanning the body and when contemplating on the corpse sometimes I feel disgusted about it and then I swift to the contemplation of feelings and then the rest of the satipatthanas respectively. And sometimes I contemplate on each of em randomly what do u say about this,what’s u r recommendation?
There is also a guided meditation on dharmaseed.org to illustrate one way to work through the exercises. I have heard many people - people who have sat many retreats with great teachers -say that Bhikkhu Analayo’s method was transformative for them - that they really did not know how to meditate until they took a retreat with him.
My own experience, however, has been that there is just too much “doing” and not enough "receiving " in that method to work for me. I would end up tight and tired after a day of sitting instead of energized and calm. Perhaps I need to stick with it longer to get through the tightening up.
One very useful thing that Bhante Analayo said is that when you are overstimulated and want to meditate it is a good idea to give the mind something definite to do. I’ve just found that walking meditation and Metta and “rotating the senses” work for me. The death meditation sequence works for me though.
And lately I found that contemplation on 5 aggregates and the sense spheres has the potential of maintaining the mind at rest specially when the yogi is present in front of a large crowd. Thus,bare awareness of the body (being aware that the body is made up of different anatomical parts and that it is void of being sexually attractive) has a strong affect for continuous mindfulness.And having an intellectual reflection like this would also be very useful - “skin,flesh,bones etc are the components of this body and it is nothing beyond that. It’s just a combination of these parts which is visible to the external world and the bodies of others are of the same nature,this body is subjected to decaying day by day after death and the bodies of others are of the same nature” this kind of reflection wud also make it convenient for the yogi to engage himself in the contemplation of mind contents as well.
Thanks for ur reply suravira. There are different meditation methods all around the world and most of em are different from each other. It’s ur choice to select the most appropriate n the most suitable mode of practice in order to derive maximum benefits. U shud select the method which enables you to develop wholesome qualities rather than depending on a particular tradition. Dis is my expression n and I hope that it was useful to you.and I have to mention this as well -"excessive cemetery contemplations can lead u to mental depression. " as I remember bhikkhu analayo in his book "satipatthana direct. …"states about an incident where a large no. of bhikkhus suicide due to excessive asubha meditation .
In case others reading this thread are not aware, there is a nice guided meditation here:
It’s certainly an interesting approach.
mikenz66 for ur response. please Let me know more of ur thoughts and comments. I would be great if you can share some of ur meditative experiences.
Well, SN 54.9 comes to mind. Here, the “letting go” of anapanasati was put forward in place of the anatomy approach, for the very reason you mention. If someone can’t engage one or another practice with a soft approach, it’s best to set it aside for a time.
Otherwise, in my experience a concentrated awareness of the senses is more appropriate when walking around town than satipatthana, which is best reserved for lunch breaks, the park, time at home, and so on.
I usually use a Mahasi-based approach, so I’m not so expert on these other methods, but I’ve used Ven Analayo’s guided meditation a few times, and presented it in a group session a few months ago, as a contrast to other ways of examining aspects of satipatthana, such as Patrick Kearney’s very interesting exercises and discussions:
I think it’s helpful to see that there are many ways of interpreting the suttas. Sometime I see people saying “all you need is the breath”, which is OK if it works, but it doesn’t work for everyone, and the Buddha clearly taught dozens of different approaches, so confining yourself to one thing seems silly (unless if works really well for you). Ven Analayo’s guided meditation doesn’t really use breath in the usual sense of focussing on breathing or motion, but I think he does mention it in connection with contemplating death.
If you’re interested in getting some idea of just how many different approaches there are, see Jack Kornfield’s book Living Dharma (formerly Living Buddhist Masters, but most of them are now dead…). James Baraz has series of talks where he discusses some of these teachers, and has short guided meditations to illustrate:
His talk on Sayadaw U Tejaniya is in the same vein:
thanks for ur response dave. i have no vast experience in meditation n i have been practicing meditation for about 6 months under various kinds of traditions.and anapanasati was a common “ingredient” in most of those modes of practice. i was continuing anapanasati for about 4 months n i wasn’t totally contented with it. after reading bhikkhu Analayo’s satipatthana i was tempted to practice asubha meditation.Initially it gave no results but after sometime i realized that this method enables me to understand that the body is just a product of some anatomical parts. anapanasati always played a good role in tranquilizing the mind but not beyond that.I realized that this method lead to realization of the anatta doctrine.i was a bit reluctant to step into asubha meditation but later i found that it worked for me than anapanasati. but i didn’t abandon anapanasati but used it to tranquilize my mind.the most obvious thing is that all these modes of practice vary from person to person n perhaps, it wud hve been the major reason for buddha to instruct various people with different guidelines. the sensation of disgust is not manifested all the time but if i feel that it’s arising, i swift to contemplation of feelings.after neutralizing the disgust via contemplation of feelings i return back to one of the 4 satipatthanas. i always avoid excessive asubha meditation but a well balanced retreat with asubha meditation is of great results.currently,i use anapanasati in order to tranquilize the mind and contemplation of anatomical parts,contemplation of elements,cemetery contemplation and the rest of the satipatthanas follows it randomly.
There’s a nice interview with Ven Analayo on Satipatthana here
One of many things I really appreciate about his teaching is that he encourages people to find the practices that work for them. Unlike some teachers he does not advocate in any way (or teach) a ‘one method fits all’.
The suttas are so rich–there are so many different ways to approach meditation practice.
i started with mahasi tradition ,but relaying upon a particular method will avoid u reaching to the method which fits u most .a comparative study on various meditation techniques will lead u to discover a better method . i have been analyzing many traditions and right now i am trying to build up a method which suits me most by combining each tradition by leaving aside the weak points of em. and sutta evidence will always help u to reject misconceptions. Buddha-dhamma is to be realized by oneself ,therefore one should engage himself in a self exploration.
thanks a lot for ur response Linda. i listened to this discussion about a month ago and it was very useful. i use bhikkhu Analayo’s satipatthana direct path to realization as a handbook due its rich contents .And it is the best known book for all yogis who are engaged in a comparative study.But still,i believe that we shud’nt be restricted to one particular source.
I think it’s useful to know about some different methods, but I found it was useful to have a good grounding in some approach first, and unless you’re doing a lot of retreats six months is not very long to learn a particular approach, let alone several. Another key factor for me is whether in-person instruction is readily available (either locally or by travelling). A good teacher will push you to get through difficulties, which, if you are on your own, might seem insurmountable, and a good excuse to try something different.
Thanks for sharing ur thoughts n opinions. I think I shud consider about ur advice. thanks a lot this is what I expect from my dear SC friends. It’s a pleasure to receive guidance from experienced members like u.
SarathW1 provided me some fascinating lectures delivered by goldstein about satipatthana - I hope these lectures wud u help u to develop ur meditation methods.http://dharmaseed.org/teacher/96/talk/6162/1
I do not have much experience in Asubha or cemetery contemplation meditation.
However my understanding is that this is to be practiced under the strict guidance of an experienced teacher, as that can produce negative results. There is a Sutta to support this but I cant find it right now.
Asubha contemplation is suitable for extremely lustful personality.
So I try to keep away from this for the time being even though it is a very powerful meditation practice.