(1-2): Revive awareness through conscious breathing (stop thinking, or perception)
(3-4): Be aware of the body + Calm the body (check your body condition and relax)
(5-6): Generate joy and happiness by touching the wonders of life (check whether you are mindful)
(7-8): Be aware of the feelings + Calm the feelings (check your emotional condition and calm down)
9-12: Mind (mental formations + consciousness)
(9-10): Be aware of the mental formations and the seeds in store consciousness + Water the wholesome seeds (selective watering to the wholesome seeds)
(11-12): Concentrate the mind + Liberate the mind (look deeply into the unwholesome mind, understand the root cause, and transform the unwholesome mind and seeds)
13-16: Objects of Mind (dharmas = perceptions)
(13-14): Understand the true nature of perceptions, ideas, craving + throw them away (attain insight of the true nature of perceptions and let go)
(15-16): Understand the true nature of reality + throw away all notions (attain insight of the ultimate truth and attain full enlightenment)
1) Humans are made of 5 aggregates (skandhas).
① body (form)
② feelings (emotions)
③ perception (idea, thought)
④ mental formations (volition)
⑤ consciousness (5 senses, mind, manas, store)
16 exercises on mindful breathing is for taking good care of these 5 aggregates (skandhas). And finally we will be able to attain full enlightenment.
The first four (1-4) exercises are the mindful breathing for the body.
(1-2): Nurturing the positive condition of the body
Breath is regarded as the body. If we (ego) concentrate on our breathing, we can stop thinking, or perception. So, awareness revives. We take good care of our perception here.
(3-4): Caring the negative condition of the body
We take good care of our pain in the body here.
The next four (5-8) exercises are the mindful breathing for the feelings.
(5-6): Nurturing the positive condition of the feelings
We feel joyful and happy when we are mindful, because we can touch the wonders of life. Because joy and happiness arise right after conscious breathing, in chronological order (5-6) comes right after (1-2). So, we can check whether we are breathing correctly here.
(7-8): Caring the negative condition of the feelings
We take good care of our painful feelings here.
The next four (9-12) exercises are the mindful breathing for the mind (mental formations + consciousness).
(9-10): Nurturing the positive condition of the mind (mental formations + consciousness)
We recognize the wholesome seeds in store consciousness and water them for the manifestation of the wholesome mental formations. The difference between (5-6) and (9-10) is that (5-6) is recognizing the manifested mental formations and (9-10) is the selective watering for the future manifestation of the wholesome mental formations. So, we take good care of our consciousness and future mental formations here.
(11-12): Caring the negative condition of the mind (mental formations + consciousness)
We take good care of our unwholesome mental formations here. (7-8) is only to recognize, embrace and relieve our painful feelings. But (11-12) includes looking deeply into the manifested unwholesome mental formations, understanding the root cause, transforming them by the energy of compassion, and return the transformed seeds into the store consciousness. So, we take good care of our unwholesome mental formations and consciousness deeply here.
5) Objects of Mind
The last four (13-16) exercises are the mindful breathing for the objects of mind (perceptions). We temporarily stop thinking, or perception by (1-2) but here we throw away all perceptions by understanding the true nature eternally.
(13-14): Understanding the true nature of perceptions and letting go
We let go of all perceptions, desires, cravings, or ideas by understanding impermanence which means interbeing (emptiness) in terms of time.
(15-16): Understanding the true nature of reality and letting go
We throw away all notions by understanding the no birth and no death nature, or no-self which means interbeing (emptiness) in terms of space. We attain full enlightenment, or nirvana by the extinction of all notions.