The Feelings That Colors Everything

By on October 6, 2014

How do you feel today? Where did this feeling come from?

Today we’ll continue our exploration of the second foundation of mindfulness, the contemplation of feeling as feeling.

We talked about how when we initially perceive an experience, there is an instantaneous feeling tone of pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

This feeling arises pre-thought. Without even knowing it, our tendency is to grasp at the pleasant and push away the unpleasant.

The neutral just gets skimmed over, propelling us into fantasy.

Say somebody cuts you off in traffic. In that moment, the experience causes an unpleasant feeling tone.

This first moment then leads to all kinds of thoughts: “How rude!” “I can’t believe that guy,” or maybe the unpleasantness causes you to seek revenge by riding that person’s bumper or honking your horn.

Depending on how strongly attached you are to these feelings, this initial tone can color your entire experience. Bring on stress.

It might take several minutes or a few hours for you to let go of this unpleasant feeling.

And sometimes this discontent spills over into the rest of the day.

You get to work and you’re short with your coworkers. You find yourself brooding over lunch, in a funk.

Not specifically about being cut off, but the discontent the arose from that specific experience has unearthed a collection of stories or thoughts that resonate similarly.

It’s almost like a hangover.

But we can increase our awareness of this tendency. Awareness allows for a break.

In the moment that “cutoff guy” slams on his breaks and gets in front of you, you can see the unpleasantness, and then just breathe into that feeling.

You can interrupt the usual attendant cascade of thoughts and actions.

You can see the tendency to retreat into negative thinking just before it happens, and let it go.

When we see things clearly and release our attachment to feeling, we exit from the tendency of being pushed and pulled without knowing it.

We take control of our lives instead of feeling at the mercy of some unconscious undertow.

Awake and aware, we meet our experience full on. With grace and power.

Stress Release Tip

Regular exercise brings greater resilience to stress, and it can start relieving stress within 3 minutes! That makes it an effective stress reliever for the short-term, the long-term and it can improve our emotional landscape too. Just 20 minutes of activity each day oxygenates the blood, gets the muscles warm, releases well-being promoting endorphins while putting stress at-bay. And the sunshine feels great too.

Mindful Homework

Take a few moments right now to check-in with your body. Feel your feet on the ground, your chair beneath you. Feel your clothes on your body, and then temperature of the air on your skin. Raise and lower your arm slowly, noticing all of the muscles, joints, ligaments and bones that go into this motion. Stay with the feeling as closely as you can. Feel any tension, tingling, density that you might be aware of. Check-in with your body like this frequently, just noticing what it’s like to be in your body for a few minutes at a time. Connecting with the body like this, the mind is put in neutral.

Quote From Adam

“The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
– Henry Miller

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