The Four Establishments of Mindfulness, taught by the Buddha in the Satipatthana Sutra, are essential practices in both the Theravada and Mahayana traditions. They involve cultivating mindfulness and introspective awareness of four objects: the body, feelings, the mind, and phenomena.
In the Theravada tradition one practices these to realize the truths of impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness. In the Mahayana tradition, they are also practiced to counteract four distorted conceptions: conceiving our body as the dwelling place of a real, independent self; conceiving our feelings as what such a self enjoys; conceiving our mind as the real self; and conceiving phenomena (mainly mental factors) as things that make the self afflicted or pure.
The Dalai Lama has said it is unfortunate that Tibetan Buddhists do not pay adequate attention to these four practices, and encourages us to do them. He says we can meditate on them with a bodhicitta motivation and the Prāsaṅgika view of emptiness.
This series of three evening sessions will introduce the practice of the establishments of mindfulness and will include some basic meditations on them, along with discussion.