How to Practice

To practice the 32 Parts of the Body Meditation, begin by reciting each part in each grouping verbally and then silently. The verbal recitation conditions the mental recitation. Then go into each part one by one, knowing the color, shape, location, direction, and delimitation  (what it is bordered by). It is also helpful to know each parts definition and function.

Do this practice for 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes. The parts of the body are recited in various formations ranging from forward, backward, and both forward and backward (please see the 33-week outline).

Be mindful and acknowledge what may be evoked or arise within you physically, mentally and emotionally when you are present to each part.  As your practice deepens, you may discover that the parts of the body begin to break down into the primary elements of solidity, liquidity, motion, and temperature revealing the impermanent, unreliable/dissatisfying and ultimately impersonal nature of the body/mind.

Please begin each practice with mindful breathing to calm and center the body and mind, then proceed through each of the parts and end with a short lovingkindness meditation.  In extending lovingkindness to oneself, reflect upon how our body is the only one we will ever have and that it is the vessel in which we live within on the path to freedom. Gradually expand your lovingkindness to all living beings.

Group 1
Head Hair, Body Hair, Nails, Teeth, Skin

Group 2
Flesh, Sinews, Bones, Bone Marrow, Kidneys

Group 3
Heart, Liver, Diaphragm, Spleen, Lungs

Group 4
Large & Small Intestines, Stomach, Feces, Brain

Group 5
Bile, Phlegm, Pus, Blood, Sweat, Fat

Group 6
Tears, Grease, Saliva, Mucus, Oil of Joints, Urine

7-Fold Skill in Learning

  1. Verbal Recitation
  2. Mental Recitation
  3. Focus on:
    • Color
    • Shape
    • Direction (above or below the navel)
    • Location
    • Delimitation (what the part is bordered by)
  4. Avoid mixing parts (the body hair is not head hair)

10-Fold Skill in Learning

  1. Following the Order of the Body Parts
  2. Moving not too Quickly
  3. Moving not too Slowly
  4. Warding off Distraction
  5. Staying with the Concept (the true nature of the body)
  6. Successive Leaving:  This means staying with the most clear body part (at some point some parts may be not as clear as others).  In this way, one develops absorptions.
  7. Practicing Absorption
  8. Developing Jhana
  9. Six Coolnesses:
    • When consciousness should be restrained, it is restrained
    • When consciousness should be exerted, it is exerted
    • When consciousness should be encouraged, it is encouraged
    • When consciousness should be looked at with equanimity, it is looked at with equanimity.
    • One is resolute on the state to be attained.
    • One delights in Nibbana.
  10. Developing skill in the 7 Enlightenment Factors (finding balance).