In MIDL Mindfulness Training 14/52 you further develop your perception of the four elemental qualities. As this perception strengthens and concentration develops, you intentionally bring awareness to the borders between things such as one of your hands touching the other or your body pressing against the chair or floor. As you focus on the elemental qualities at these points of touch the mind created perceptional borders start to dissolve and you can experience reality free from separation. Submit Your Question
Your Question: I have been listening for a week but I can't quite understand how I can lose the perceptual boarders. I can sense (say at the hands) the qualities at the meeting point. So that is how I know that there is separateness. I can also feel the air on my skin; is that the borderline of my body and the room?
Stephen Procter: Reply: We cannot make the experience of the borders of our body disappear, it is not something that we do, it is an experience that arises when we stop trying to do. It is our conceptualising of what we are experiencing that creates the borders of perception.
You asked: "I can also feel the air on my skin; is that the borderline of my body and the room?”
Reply: We do not feel the air on our body; the idea of air touching our skin is a mind created concept. What we feel is sensations of warmth, coolness etc that arise due to touch. Close your eyes gently now and become aware of just sitting in the room, the experience of it.
How can you actually know the room around you other then as a thought or memory? The floor touches you, but can you actually know the floor? Or can you only know pressure, hardness, softness, warmth, coolness etc? These sensations are not a border for anything; they are just sensations, just as they are.
When you can be fully intimate with the actual experience, the elemental quality of touch, as it is, then the borders themselves will no longer exist.
Your Question: Is the aim of this practice to feel the sensate qualities of hardness, softness, pressure and temperature as they occur in the moment? If so, how does this benefit our spiritual practice?
Stephen Procter: We use these elemental qualities because they are the reality from which our mind creates the world that we live within. They are the world before mind creation.
The habitual mind created world is grounded within layers of perception and concepts, based on our relationship towards past experiences, which obscure our ability to know what is reality and what is the conceptual reality created within our mind. The Buddha referred to this as delusion, literally when we are in delusion we can not know it.
We can see this delusive quality quite clearly when during meditation we suddenly realise that we have been lost within thinking for a period of time and that we had completely forgotten what we were doing - that we were meditating. This coming back to reality is the re-establishing of mindfulness. The clarity of awareness through the re-establishing of mindfulness, compared to the clarity of awareness when we were lost within the mind created world of thinking is very clear. This highlights that delusion arises whenever mindfulness collapses.
Learning to clarify our perception of the elemental qualities of experience such as hardness, softness, pressure and warmth etc, starting with our body, creates a grounding point to reality in which to establish mindfulness and from which to observe when we have fallen into habitual patterns within our mind. Increased perception of these elemental qualities also breaks down and depersonalises experiences such as our body, likes, dislikes, emotions, thoughts and judgement by directing perception towards the experience of their elemental qualities rather than the conceptual content.