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    Seven Buddhist Ingredients for a Happy Mind | Pascal Auclair

    By focusing on our thoughts and reactions during meditation, we can break free from negative patterns, find happiness in the present, and trust in our own mental abilities.

    enOctober 12, 2022

    About this Episode

    Are you interested in suffering less? Today's guest, Dharma teacher Pascal Auclair, is going to talk about seven very specific and practical ways to train your mind for reduced suffering by exploring a Buddhist list called the seven factors of awakening, which is a part of the fourth foundation of mindfulness. We’ve talked about a bunch of Buddhist lists on the show before, but this is one of the happiest of all the lists to explore. 


    Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997, sitting retreats in Asia and America. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield, who have both been previous guests on this show. Pascal is now a core teacher at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts. He is also a co-founder of True North Insight and one of its guiding teachers. 


    This episode is the fifth and final installment of a series we've launched on the four foundations of mindfulness.


    In this episode we talk about:


    • The movement from difficult states of mind to more beneficial and helpful states of mind
    • How the 7 factors can help you create your “best mind”
    • The difference between the “energizing” and “calming” factors 
    • How to practically apply these factors to your daily life
    • And specifically how the seven factors can improve your relationships



    Full Shownotes: www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/pascal-auclair-508


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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Cultivating wholesome mental states through the Seven Factors of Awakening can help reduce suffering and increase happiness by improving relationships and training the brain to enjoy good things and be more resilient.
    • Prioritize what is effective by embodying the teachings of mindfulness and utilizing the four foundations of mindfulness and seven factors of awakening to cultivate wisdom and compassion in our daily lives.
    • Practicing mindfulness through awareness of our body, feeling tones, and quality of mind can lead to a more awakened and beneficial life. By moving towards liberating mind states, we can develop wisdom and harmony in our relationships.
    • Cultivating qualities such as mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, and equanimity can lead to a more positive and well-rounded life, with increased insight, understanding, wisdom, and discernment. Mindfulness of these factors can help shift from difficult to wholesome mind states.
    • Insight in Buddhism offers a deep understanding of reality, leading to skillful ways of living, acceptance of impermanence, and finding peace. Apply these seven factors to everyday life for a better mind.
    • Cultivating mindfulness, curiosity, energy, joy, calm, concentration and insight can simplify life and lead to deeper understanding. Practicing these factors daily can create a framework for living and make us less of an asshole.
    • By simplifying the seven factors of awakening into curiosity and calm, practicing mindfulness, and assessing which factor is needed, we can have more fulfilling experiences and be kinder to ourselves by disrupting harsh self-talk.
    • By cultivating curiosity through mindfulness and asking questions, we can develop greater flexibility, openness, and resilience in our daily lives.
    • By practicing mindfulness, we can become more aware of our thoughts and biases, and shift our focus from self to humanity. By investigating the impermanent nature of all experiences, we can gain a deeper understanding of human nature.
    • By practicing mindfulness and curiosity, we can become aware of our thoughts and emotions as part of the natural world. This helps us understand them without judgment, leading to a deeper connection with others and a more sustained practice.
    • Mindfulness can help us find the balance between exerting too much or too little effort in meditation and life. It's a journey of exploration, and surrounding ourselves with people who embody positive qualities can aid in cultivation. The fourth foundation of meditation provides a systematic approach to understanding and developing these qualities.
    • Practicing mindfulness can help us embody qualities like calm, equanimity, and joy, leading to a transformative effect on ourselves and our environment. Pity, arising from direct experience of impermanence and seeing the conditioning of the mind, can bring joy and freedom.
    • By focusing on our thoughts and reactions during meditation, we can break free from negative patterns, find happiness in the present, and trust in our own mental abilities.
    • Focus on the journey, not just the destination. Enjoy the various forms of joy along the way but don't get attached to them. Embrace contentment for a quieter mind and deeper understanding of reality.
    • To achieve calmness, one must practice simplifying, positive self-talk, mindfulness, and metta practice. Being around calm people and locating physical unrest in the body can also help in inducing calmness.
    • Acknowledge emotions with 'of course' and explore ways to deal with them. Practice concentration and equanimity for a balanced and stable mind. These qualities lead to a beautiful quality of mind, necessary for a happy and healthy life.
    • Meditation and mindfulness practices can help avoid suffering and increase creativity. Explore teachings that resonate with you, locate them in yourself and others, and practice regularly for a fulfilling life.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    The Seven Factors of Awakening for a Happier Mind

    The Seven Factors of Awakening are seven Buddhist ingredients for a happy mind that can help reduce suffering and cultivate wholesome states of mind. These factors can improve your relationships, which are the most important variable for your happiness. Pascalo Claire, a core teacher at the Insight Meditation Society, explains the movement from difficult mind states to beneficial and helpful mind states, as well as the difference between energizing and calming factors. Applying these factors in daily life and practicing mindfulness of Dharmas can train your brain to enjoy good things and be more resilient when bad things happen. Overall, the key takeaway is that cultivating wholesome mental states is an essential practice for reducing suffering and increasing happiness.

    How to Apply Dharma and Mindfulness in Our Daily Lives

    The teachings of dharma and mindfulness should be applicable in our daily lives. We should make them our own by embodying them and seeing how they work for us. The goal is to find what works for us in the given context. Joseph Goldstein's phrase, 'whatever works' is a reminder that we should prioritize what is effective. The four foundations of mindfulness provide a structural understanding of where to place our attention to cultivate wisdom and compassion. The seven factors of awakening fit into the fourth foundation, which is the mental experiences and states that arise in our present moment. These factors should make sense in practice and be useful in our daily lives.

    The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and Their Importance in Developing Wisdom and Harmony in Relationships.

    The four foundations of mindfulness include the body, feeling tones, quality of mind, and movement from difficult to helpful mind states. The third foundation focuses on being aware of one's mind state, while the fourth foundation highlights the importance of moving towards the liberating and beneficial states of mind. Mindfulness can help us live better within ourselves and our relationships, and practicing the factors of awakening can aid in the development of wisdom and harmony in relationships. Being aware of our body and feeling tones can prevent us from being controlled by discursive thinking and preferences, leading to a more awakened and mindful life.

    The Seven Factors of Awakening and their Benefits for the Mind and Life

    The seven factors of awakening are qualities that when cultivated and perfected, create the best mind for insight, understanding, wisdom, and discernment to arise. These qualities are not only useful for insight but are also the best qualities to have in different situations in life such as conflicts and beautiful experiences. Grasping for the pleasant and fleeing from the unpleasant while ignoring the neutral is not ideal for overall well-being. Practicing mindfulness of mind and domas can help with transitioning from difficult mind states to wholesome mind states. By being mindful of the seven factors of awakening, you can cultivate and experience more pleasant, wholesome, and positive states of mind, leading to a better, more well-rounded life.

    The Power of Insight for Cultivating a Better Mind

    Insight in Buddhism refers to a deep understanding of the changing nature of reality and is a key factor in cultivating the best mind. Through insight, one can discover skillful ways of living, such as being kind to oneself and understanding others' perspectives. Insight also helps the mind relax and find peace. Impermanence is a non-negotiable law of the universe, and acceptance comes from insight into it. Overall, the seven factors discussed in this conversation can be applied to everyday life and help cultivate the best mind for any situation.

    The Seven Factors of Awakening in Buddhism

    The seven factors of awakening in Buddhism can help create circumstances for insights to arise and make us less of an asshole. Mindfulness, curiosity, energy, joy, calm, concentration, and insight are the seven factors. Paying attention to something leads to curiosity and energy and a curious mind becomes joyful. A joyful mind is content and naturally settles leading to calmness. When the mind is calm and stable, it becomes concentrated and insight arises. These factors can simplify life and become a frame of reference for daily living. Mindfulness and investigation of phenomena, or curiosity, are sufficient for some, but all seven can work together for deeper understanding.

    Balancing Energizing and Calming Factors of Awakening

    In order to balance the energizing and calming factors of awakening, we can simplify it down to just curiosity and calm. By practicing mindfulness and using our attention, we can ask ourselves if we can bring one part of calm or curiosity to a situation that we're about to face. Pascal Auclair suggests saying comforting things to ourselves, such as 'my love,' to disrupt harsh self-talk and be more sweet to ourselves. By using mindfulness as the fulcrum of the csaw and assessing which side of the seven factors of awakening is needed, we can have more successful and fulfilling experiences.

    The Power of Curiosity and Mindfulness for Flexibility and Resilience.

    Curiosity is an awakening factor and a disentangling factor that can help us reorient our attitude towards situations that provoke resistance. When the mind is closed or reactive, we can invite curiosity and engage ourselves into it because it can be helpful. Mindfulness can reveal resistance and aversion, allowing us to check in with our attitude towards the situation. Asking questions is an effective way of bringing curiosity in and disentangling ourselves from rigid attitudes. Mindfulness also brings a sense of newness to everything, and it can help us pay attention more generously. Being aware and inviting curiosity can help us cultivate greater flexibility, openness, and resilience in our everyday lives.

    How Mindfulness Can Help Us Shift Our Focus

    Mindfulness can help us wake up to the present moment and be more aware of the body and breath, without getting caught up in preconceived ideas or biases. The analogy of mindfulness as a guard taking messages straight to consciousness, and the concept of investigating phenomena, can help us shift our focus from self to humanity and explore the universal nature of all experiences. By exploring the impermanent phenomena of nature that arise when conditions are right, we can gain a deeper understanding of human nature and let consciousness experience all that is going on without judgement or self-reference.

    Exploring Mindfulness and Its Benefits in Daily Life

    Mindfulness helps to investigate our thoughts, emotions, and sensations. By being mindful and curious, we become aware that these are part of nature and not uniquely ours. This helps us to get out of our own heads and feel connected to everything and everyone else. Investigation in mindfulness means being really present and aware of the phenomena as they unfold, without being judgmental or trying to analyze them. This patient and nonjudgmental approach helps us to understand conflicts and emotions better. Naturally, by applying mindfulness and curiosity to our experiences, we gain energy and continuity in our practice.

    Finding the Right Amount of Energy in Meditation and Life.

    The right amount of energy or effort is crucial in meditation and in life. It's about having just enough energy to connect and sustain attention on an object, without forcing or abandoning. Mindfulness helps us understand what is the right amount of wise effort or energy to give, and it's a path of trial and error. Camela master suggests finding the level of energy that requires some exploration. The presence of energy, mindfulness, and other qualities can be cultivated by hanging out with people who manifest them, even if we don't have a physical community of meditators nearby. The fourth foundation of meditation teaches us to systematically know the presence or absence of these qualities and find out what hinders or helps cultivate them.

    Mindfulness Practice for Joy and Transformation

    Practicing mindfulness can lead to embodying qualities like calm, equanimity, and joy, which can have a positive impact on people and their environment. The fourth factor of awakening joy is pity, which ranges from curious interest to rapture or orgasmic joy. It arises from the direct experience of impermanence and the realization that thoughts are conditioned, not who we are. Seeing the conditioning of the mind can bring joy and a sense of freedom. Mindfulness practice can allow us to embody these qualities, which can have a transformative effect on ourselves and those around us.

    Building Trust and Confidence Through Mindful Meditation.

    The joy of practice arises when we begin to see our own patterns and beliefs, and become aware of our thoughts and reactions. Concentrating on a single object, such as the breath, can lead to contentment, calm, and even orgasmic feelings. However, it is important not to become attached to these experiences, as the effort to achieve them can inhibit their manifestation. As we become more aware of ourselves and our reactions, we can let go of negative patterns and find satisfaction in the present moment. Through meditation, we can build trust and confidence in our minds and their capacity for growth and change.

    Balancing Joy and Attachment on the Path of Understanding Reality

    On the path of deep understanding of reality, we may get attached to certain things, which can prevent us from experiencing the joy it brings. However, it is important to understand that these things are like candies on the way and should not be the primary goal of our journey. Along the way, we discover different kinds of joy, including concentration, generosity, insight, and calm. Joy leads to contentment, which allows the mind to stay present without being distracted by comments and narration. As the mind becomes more refined, it becomes quieter, and the joy we experience becomes more subtle. It is important to remember that joy is good on the path, but it should not become the endpoint.

    Techniques for Achieving Calmness in Daily Life.

    To achieve calmness, one can practice simplifying by focusing on one thing, like the breath or a person to wish well. Being around calm people can also help induce a calming effect. One can locate where the unrest is in the body and try to move their focus away from it. Positive self-talk can also be a helpful technique, reminding oneself that the sensations experienced are not dangerous and can be ridden out. Mindfulness and being aware of calmness and soaking it in can also lead to tranquility. Loving kindness practice or meta practice can also get one out of their own head, promoting a sense of calm.

    Developing a Friendly Attitude for Improved Concentration and Equanimity

    Developing a friendly, helpful attitude towards others helps shift the focus from personal bullshit and promotes concentration and equanimity in the mind. When any emotion arises, acknowledge it with 'of course' and explore ways to deal with it. Concentration involves gathering and unifying the mind, staying present in the moment, and sustaining attention on an object. Equanimity is the highest quality of the list, a balanced and stable mind that doesn't fall into aversion or clinging. Both qualities are useful in daily life, even for plowing fields or fixing things. These factors are not unreachable and can lead to a beautiful quality of mind, necessary for a happy and healthy life.

    The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness for a Stable and Pliable Mind

    Meditation and mindfulness practices can help in developing a stable, flexible and pliable mind, which can help in avoiding suffering and achieving creativity. To develop these qualities, one can explore teachings and podcasts that resonate with them and try to locate them in oneself and others. These practices might seem expensive in terms of time and effort, but they are worth it, as they help in avoiding trouble and improving relationships with others. Pascal Auclair discusses seven ancient, time-tested, and practical tools for training the mind, which can help in reducing suffering. Meditation and mindfulness practices can make a person's life much easier and fulfilling if practiced regularly.

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    • Whether self-compassion is selfish
    • How to do self-compassion off the cushion, including practices like journaling, written reminders, establishing accountability partners, and simple questions you can drop into your mind when all else fails
    • How to do self-compassion on the cushion, including practices like body scans, metta, and a check-in practice you can use at the very start of your sits
    • And how to teach self-compassion to children



    Related Episodes:

    The Voice in Your Head | Ethan Kross



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