Mastery is a big word, but it really just means control or discipline. If we have mastery over our minds, then it means we are less vulnerable to what life throws at us. To have mastery, it helps to have understanding. And to aid understanding, it may help to divide the mind into five main parts.
It may help to start with our grounding in the physical universe. If we imagine creating a mind (i.e. artificial intelligence), then we might accept that we need to fabricate something that has a form. We can see a computer; its form is evident to us. In the same way, I can see and feel my own body, and also its relationship with the universe.
#2 FEELINGS (SENSATION)
Secondly, we can understand that this physical relationship with the universe gives rise to subjective feelings of positivity or negativity, pleasure or pain. If we are tortured, we may feel bad. If we are stimulated pleasantly, we may feel good for a while.
#3 THOUGHTS (PERCEPTION)
Thirdly, we can take these sensations, and start to make sense of them, to make a context of them. If we develop the thought ‘I am being tortured’, then we have moved beyond the sensations into a thought-interpretation, with all the assumptions it contains. We develop a map of understanding, deciding what objects are, how they are described, and what they mean.
#4 INTENTIONS (WILL)
Fourthly, we can ‘do something’ – we can act psychologically. We often call this ‘behaviour’. For instance, we say ‘behave!’ to children, implying that we are trying to influence fellow beings with intentionality.
#5 CONSCIOUSNESS (AWARENESS)
Lastly, we can be ‘aware’ of a sensation (of what we are seeing, touching, smelling, hearing, tasting). We can also be aware of our own thoughts (for instance, of a memory, a present thought-form, or an anticipation).
MINDFULNESS (MASTERING YOUR MIND)
We all possess these five attributes, and mindfulness can be understood as harnessing our understanding/experience of these five aspects of ourselves.
I can see that I am here, now. I am present.
I am experiencing sensations, of pleasure and pain, of comfort and discomfort. It is a continuous stream.
I can see myself developing thought-stories out of those sensations. Stories about things I love, things I hate, things I am attracted to, things I am repelled by. I give them meaning, and hold those meanings as concepts, labels.
I watch myself trying to ‘do’ things in response to those thoughts or sensations. I toss, I turn, I fight, I run away.
I return to awareness. Of what I can see, touch, smell, hear, taste. Of my own thoughts.
I can see that I am still here, now. I am present.