Mindfulness meditation is a Buddhist mental cultivation aiming to reach maximum mental concentration called one-pointedness of mind.

Mindfulness: is applying the mind to do the following: (1) to focus on a chosen object, (2) to hold on to this object and not to forget it, and (3) to keep the mind from wander away from the chosen object.

In the practice of mindfulness meditation, we have to guard our mind well. In the tradition, the mind comprises of feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness. Here for the practical purpose, the Mind only cover the consciousness of each of our physical and mental senses: the eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind (thinking faculty). And how do we guard our mind?

Guarding the Mind:

We have to keep the consciousness of each of these six sense faculties in check and prevent them from wandering toward what is unwholesome.

For example, we guard the eye consciousness by preventing our attention from wandering to those visual objects that cause greed, anger, and delusion (or the three poisons) to arise. Likewise, we guard our ear consciousness against distracting sounds that foster the three poisons. Similarly, other consciousness must be guarded.

The mental consciousness, normally referred to as the mind itself, has the tendency to wander away from the object of our mindfulness. We must guard it. And the method to be used is our mental introspection called alertness.

Alertness is another mental factor which can reflect on the mind itself by its own capacity of mental reflection. It can detect to see any mental sinking or excitement in our mind. Also, it can detect our progress on mindfulness.

Thus, in Mindfulness Meditation we need to apply both our mindfulness and alertness. While mindfulness holds on to a chosen object, alertness monitors any wandering from that object.

Traditionally, we have the four foundations of mindfulness: the body, the feeling, the mind, and objects of the mind. These are always available to any of us. Being mindful of our individual breathing is among the frequent methods to begin with. However, any virtuous objects can also be the object for mindfulness.

For example, we try to visualize the figure of Sakyamuni Buddha. After selecting and seeing the image that we like best, our mindfulness holds on to the visualized image of the Buddha. Then our mind focuses on this object, keeping our thinking from wandering away. In monitoring mindfulness, our alertness should occasionally check to see if our concentration remains in progess or if interruptions caused by mental sinking or excitement have arisen. When any wandering away has been detected, we can direct our attention to grasp onto the object again and continue our mindfulness meditation.

Textual Resources:

1. Mahasatipatthana Sutra: The Great Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness.

2. Satipattahna Suttra: The Foundations of Mindfulness.

3. An excellent resource for mindfulness and guarding the mind is The Bodhicaryavatara (The Conducts to Attain Enlightenment) written by Santideva, the famous Mahayana Buddhist monk at Nalanda Monastery, the Buddhist University in ancient India, around 685-763 CE. Various translations and commentaries concerning this world's classics text can be obtained from the large public libraries, especially from the university libraries.

4. Another of book by Santideva, Siksa Samuccaya: A Compendium of Buddhist Doctrine Compiled by Santideva, is also extremely useful.