What Does Feeling Have To Do With It?

Two days ago I mentioned how nice it was to have some downtime while on vacation, and how we all need to take this time for ourselves.

The last week of my vacation was spent on a 7-day meditation retreat at Spirit Rock. Talk about contrast!

The retreat was organized around the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

The second foundation, the contemplation of feeling as feeling, I found to be particularly profound.

This is what the second foundation says:

Any time an experience arrives at one of our six sense doors (the 5 senses, plus the mind), there is an immediate, and sometimes imperceptible, understanding of this experience as either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. The next step in the sequence arises from this initial feeling tone.

When we perceive something as pleasant, we will pursue it, wanting more of it. This grasping at the pleasant can lead to greed. When we perceive something as unpleasant, we try to push it away, to avoid it. This leads to aversion. When something is neutral, we tend to skim right over it, jumping into the fantasy of a pleasant thought or the “problem-solving mode” that we apply to troubling thoughts (so that we can come to a pleasant resolution).

This initial feeling tone of an experience happens in the micro-second before thought, before action, before anything, yet it colors everything. And when we’re not aware of it, we’re tossed about like a ship on stormy seas — constantly grasping, constantly pushing away, always wishing for something different than what’s here, now.

In meditation, we relax the mind to a point of being able to track this initial feeling tone, and then watching where it takes us.

Pleasant thought? “Ooo, that feels nice, let’s daydream some more!”

Unpleasant thought? “Aw man, not this story again,” or, “let’s figure this one out.”

Neutral experience (like breathing)? “This is boring…where was I in that fantasy again?”

Each thought is a signpost pointing in the direction of our tendencies in thinking.

Which become our tendencies of being. Which become our tendencies of doing. Noticing these tendencies provides the awareness for change.

Mindfulness is the key that opens the door.

Stress Release Tip

See the glass half full. Research has shown that those with an optimistic view of the world are more positive, happier and live longer, more healthy lives. The world out there can be seen in whatever light you choose. Bright and shiny always feels good to me 🙂

Mindful Homework

Watch your mind closely these coming days. Start by centering yourself with the breath, connecting with your feet on the ground, and noticing your body. As you engage your daily experience, especially circumstances that are triggering or difficult, does your mind create drama in the retelling of the story. Do you get attached to the victim mindset? — “why do they always do this to me?” Can easily move through that which is unpleasant, breathing into the experience instead of pushing it away, leaving it to be dealt with the next time it surfaces? Meet your experience head-on, and feel the spaciousness that comes from just being with it, without resistance.

Quote From Adam

“The possibilities are numerous when we decide to act and not react.”
– George Bernard Shaw

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