I have read about

The Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, is generally regarded as the canonical Buddhist text with the fullest instructions on the system of meditation unique to the Buddha's own dispensation.

there is four types

  1. Cittanupassana
  2. Vedananupassana
  3. Dhammanupassana
  4. Kayanupassana

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/soma/wayof.html https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.22.0.than.html

Can anyone give clarification in simple words? I want some clarification on how to start and how to do it.


9 Answers 9


One of the simplest renderings of the 4 Foundations of Mindfulness is:

And what, bhikshus, is right mindfulness?
Here, bhikshus, 
a monk dwells  exertive, clearly knowing, mindful, observing the body in the body, 
   removing covetousness and displeasure in the world;
a monk dwells exertive, clearly knowing, mindful, observing feelings in the feelings, 
   removing covetousness and displeasure in the world;
a monk dwells exertive, clearly knowing, mindful, observing the mind in the mind, 
   removing covetousness and displeasure in the world; 
a monk dwells exertive, clearly knowing, mindful, observing dharmas in the dharmas, 
   removing covetousness and displeasure in the world.
This, bhikshus, is called right mindfulness.

(Magga) Vibhaṅga Sutta similar passage in Sacca Vibhanga Sutta

"removing covetousness and displeasure in the world" means you are to be equanimous without getting attached to the pleasant or averse to the unpleasant. You have to see impermanence also to remove ignorance.


If I may, I'm going to use an analogy. If you think about a gymnast performing a routine, she must (to a certain extent) invoke all of these types of mindfulness:

  • She must have a clear mental image of how her body must 'be' at every point in the routine
  • She must have a clear sense of her body's posture, in all its parts and as a whole
  • She must have a clear grasp of sensations, because sensations orient her body to the surrounding world
  • She must have a clear emotional focus, so that a momentary rise or fall of mood doesn't throw her off stride

Let's call all of these things together her attitude: the conjoined physical, emotional, and mental posture that she needs to achieve to successfully complete the routine.

That kind of attitude is what the Buddha is pointing at: a conjoined physical, emotional, and mental posture that (if achieved) will free us of the attachments that pull us off our stride and cause us to falter.


The best advice I can give anyone, beginner or not, is forget about MN 10 and DN 22 (the suttas people tend to default to as the definitive reference on the subject), and ignore what most of the so called experts are saying about mindfulness. Instead, read the first 10 suttas in SN 47, the satipatthana samyutta, carefully, and repeatedly. Those 10 suttas in SN 47, and you can rely on Thanissaro's excellent book, "right mindfulness" as the best reference manual on the topic, although there are a couple of issues I have it. But those two sources will give you a safe base to work from.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Nov 25, 2019 at 10:46

We have five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch). Maybe few others like feeling the temperature and our orientation in space.

Plus we have the "inner eye" - with which we see our thoughts, memories, and emotions.

Everything that happens to us, always happens as some kind of combination of the above.

Satipatthana is when we see everything just like this: Whatever we see, beautiful or horrible - it is only a picture. Whatever we hear, either nice or something we hate - it is only sound. Whatever we think, either good or bad - it is only an association from memory. Whatever we feel - pleasant or painful - is just information from our body.

So we don't get too much hooked by whatever is happening. It is only picture and sound and associations. When we see it like this, it does not control us anymore. Then we can be free.

This is the point of satipatthana.


The words Kayanupassana, Vedananupassana, Cittanupassana and Dhammanupassana mean being 'closely observant' of the body/breathing, feelings, mental states and realities.

These four objects of close observation occur naturally & automatically when the mind has been sufficiently developed in quietude, purity and freedom from craving.

Therefore, how to start and do it is simply by stopping craving & making the mind quiet.


The simplest model I can think of for satipatthana is nama-rupa (mind-body or mentality-materiality) which incorporates all four frames.


the easy wayis to read the book by bikkhu analayo about Satipatthana, where he compares the pali sutta, the chinese suttas and the tibetan suttas (for anapanasati)


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a huge work on the Kayanupassana is the dead corpse, but people do not do this today.


These are simple but precise words imho...

To set up this Satipatthana mindfulness:

1)Make an effort to remember how to approach setting up mindfulness(such as the approach of these very steps)

2)Make an effort to see things as they are

3)Continue making an effort to see things as they are

At first setting up mindfulness will be mechanical and clumsy as one goes through each step. As one becomes more skilled, the setting up of mindfulness will become smooth and require far less effort to set up. One has to remember that setting up mindfulness is a distinctive part of the practice because human beings cannot usually practice mindfulness forever. So one has to know how to come back and set up mindfulness again and again.

Seeing things as they are:

When non-conseptual "experience"(or you could say "awareness") of body and mind arises in the present moment then make an effort pay closer attention to that specific arising on purpose. So, when there is...

...seeing then there is seeing(Kayanupassana)

...hearing there is hearing(Kayanupassana)

...disliking there is disliking(Vedananupassana)

...bodily sensation there is bodily sensation(Kayanupassana)

...thinking then there is thinking(Cittanupassana)

Dhammanupassana has an unclear or redundant meaning(at least to me) but I believe it means the practice of paying attention to mind objects. I have never seen a teaching on this that was clear to me. There is no need for a beginner to worry about this.

It is important to note that when one pays attention to thoughts as they are(Cittanupassana) one doesn't pay attention to the content of the thoughts but just to the raw experience that a thought is present in the present moment.

The fruit of letting go of what is clung to

The more one sees things as they are or the more one pays closer attention to what has arisin within one's attention, the more one:

let's go of what one clings to

will see what is clung to below the surface of consciousness

sees what is a preconception

sees what is being reacted to automatically without any attention put towards it.


The sutra says that you should meditate, i.e. consider and think about, four concepts:

  • the body
  • feelings
  • the mind
  • objects of the mind

The sutra is quite structured and it helps writing the structure down. It is also quite dense however and makes a lot of cross references to other Buddhist concepts. You can use this sutra therefore as a crossrefence and skeleton to other Buddhist ideas. Below is a simplified outline. Hope this helps.

1) The body

Consider mindfulness of breathing (in/out, slow/calm/...)

Consider the postures of the body, i.e. know that you are sitting when you are sitting and standing when you tell someone else off :) (while standing that is)

Consider mindfulness with clear comprehension, i.e. know that you are stretching when you are stretching, bowing when you are bowing, ....

Consider the repulsiveness of the body, i.e. blood streaming through your veins, through your body, urine, puss, etc....

Consider that your body is made out of four elements (earth, water, fire, air). This needs translation into the modern world.

Consider the nine cemetery reflections. These are descriptions of how the body decomposes from a dead body through to dust. It is a meditation on death that can be quite powerful.

2) Feelings

There are pleasant, unpleasant and neither pleasant nor unpleasant feelings. Worldly as well as spiritually.

3) Contemplation of consciousness

Consciousness refers to 51 mental formations. "Feelings" is one of them already discussed above, so it can be discounted in this category. The 51 mental formations are categorized as universal, particular, wholesome, unwholesome (basic and secondary), and indeterminate.

For each formation, acknowledge it, look deeply into it, see the impermanence of it, see how it leads your thoughts to inter-being.

4) Contemplation of mental objects

4.1) Consider the five hindrances: sense desire, anger, sloth and torpor, agitation and remorse, doubt

4.2) Consider the five aggregates of clinging: material form, feeling, perceptions, formations, consciousness

4.3) Consider the six internal and external sense bases: eye/form, ear/sound, nose/smell, tongue/flavour, body/tactile feeling, mind/mental objects

4.4) Consider the seven factors of enlightenment: mindfulness, investigation of mental objects, energy, joy, tranquility, concentration, equanimity

4.5) The four noble truths: suffering, the origin of suffering, the cessation of suffering, the road to the cessation of suffering

The sutra concludes with a discussion on the sort of time that is required on your behalf to understand it. And in classical manner, it puts it between seven years and now :)

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