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Practice 4th: Feeling (2nd Foundation: Feeling Tones)

Lesson 4

We're aware of the body in the sitting posture and we let the mind rest on the body just as the body rests on the cushion. And without losing this embodied form of mindfulness we will now proceed through four spokes in the wheel of our Satipatthana meditation; three body contemplations and contemplation of feeling.

Anatomical parts beginning with the head, skin. From the head to the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs and the feet. And continuing right away for the flesh from the feet to the legs, hips, torso, and the hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and the head.

And the bones. From the head to the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and the feet.

And we're aware of this body in the sitting posture of its skin, flesh and bones. Cultivating an attitude of non-attachment.

And the elements. Earth element. From the head to the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and feet.

And we're aware of this body in the sitting posture as pervaded by the Earth element with an understanding of its empty nature.

And the water element. Beginning from the feet moving up to the legs, hips, torso, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and the head.

And we're aware of this body in the sitting posture as pervaded by the water element with an understanding of its empty nature.

And the fire element. Beginning from the head to the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and feet.

And we're aware of this body in the sitting posture is pervaded by the fire element with an understanding of its empty nature.

And the wind element. Starting from the feet moving up to the legs, the hips, torso, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, and head.

And we're aware of this body in the sitting posture is pervaded by the wind element with an understanding of its empty nature. And we connect with the breath as that which connects us to life. There comes a time this breath will stop, and this body will die.

And we may use the mental image of a skeleton to remind ourselves of the ultimate destiny of this body to fall apart. And with evert inhalation we're aware of the fact this could be my last breath. And even if it is not my last breath it is certainly one breath closer to death.

And with every exhalation we relax and let go. Relax and let go.

And having, through these three body contemplations, cultivated non-attachment, insight into emptiness and recognition of our mortality. We move on to contemplation of feelings.

Doing these body scans that which feels the body, that is feeling. That which fills the breath that is also hedonal. Three hedonic or effective tones pleasant, unpleasant, neutral.

We start with pleasant feelings. Aware of the head area. Let me see if there's some pleasant feeling there. From the head to the neck checking for some pleasant feeling. Whatever feeling or sensation we experience, simply checking for those that are experienced as pleasant.

From the neck to one shoulder. Pleasant feelings. And the arm, pleasant feelings. And the hand, pleasant feelings. And the other shoulder. Aware of that part of the body and seeing if there's some pleasant feeling there somewhere.

From the shoulder to the arm, pleasant feelings. And the hand, pleasant feelings. Upper half of torso, see if there's some pleasant feelings somewhere.

Lower half of torso, pleasant feelings.

One hip, pleasant feelings. The leg, pleasant feelings. And the foot, checking for pleasant feelings. The other hip, pleasant feelings. And the leg, pleasant feelings. And the foot, pleasant feelings.

And we're aware of this whole body in the sitting posture of any pleasant feelings manifesting in or on this body.

Could be feelings of warmth, smoothness, relaxation, pulsing, tingling. Whatever it is, no need to label in any other way, just recognizing if it is pleasant, agreeable.

Pleasant feelings.

And now we proceed to unpleasant feelings. Starting where we left off with the foot. Aware of that foot. Let me see if there's some unpleasant feeling there. Some tension, some pressure, whatever it is just labeling it as unpleasant feeling.

From the foot to the leg, unpleasant feeling. The hip, unpleasant feeling. The other foot, unpleasant feeling. The leg, unpleasant feeling. And the hip, unpleasant feeling. Lower half of torso, unpleasant feeling. And upper half of torso, unpleasant feeling.

Shifting attention to one hand, checking in for any unpleasant feeling. And the arm, unpleasant feeling. And the shoulder, unpleasant feeling. And the other hand, unpleasant feeling. The arm, unpleasant feeling. And the shoulder, unpleasant feeling. The neck, unpleasant feeling. And the head, checking if any unpleasant feeling is there.

And we're aware of this whole body in the sitting posture of any unpleasant feeling manifesting anywhere in or on this body.

And neutral feelings. Neither distinctly pleasant nor distinctly unpleasant.

Starting with that head. Let me see if there's any neutral feeling in the head area. And from the head to the neck, neutral feelings. One shoulder, neutral feelings. And the arm, neutral feelings. And the hand, neutral feelings.

And the other shoulder, neutral feelings. And the arm, neutral feelings. And the hand, neutral feelings.

The upper half of the torso, checking in for any neutral feelings. And lower half of torso, neutral feelings. One hip, neutral feelings. The leg, neutral feelings. And the foot, neutral feelings.

And the other hip, neutral feelings. And the leg, neutral feelings. And the foot, neutral feelings. And we're aware of this whole body in the sitting posture of any neutral feelings in or on the body.

And from having explored bodily pleasant unpleasant neutral feelings we open the rest of our awareness to include any feelings even those that manifest predominantly on the mental level without as strong are clearly evident bodily component. Just aware of the effect of quality the hedonic tone of our experience.

And as we keep practicing, aware of feelings, we come to realize the degree to which this body is a constant source of unpleasant or even painful feelings.

The pain of the bodily posture, the unpleasant feelings when being afflicted by outside temperature, hunger and thirst. The body is a constant source of pain. So much of our activities are just to relieve the pain inherent in having a body.

And as we practice, we also notice another feeling. And fortunately, this is a pleasant one; the pleasant mental feeling of being in the present moment. Very subtle. Very subtle pleasant feeling just from being established in the present moment.

And as we keep practicing aware of feelings, we notice they all share one quality one characteristic; they are impermanent. Just like bubbles on the surface of water. One feeling after another. Changing phenomena.

And it is this distinct direct experience at the feeling of impermanence that we carry over into our open practice. Opening up to experience at the sixth sense doors in whatever way it unfolds. And with a more clear discernment awareness of its hedonic tone, its effective quality. And that felt sense of impermanence. Changing phenomena.

And sooner or later, mind is bound to wonder. As soon as we realize smilingly, we come back to the present moment. And for a moment we keep noticing the feeling tone, the effective quality of the daydream, memory, fantasy, that has taken us away from the present moment.

And another potential source of distraction can be bodily pain due to the posture, some itch here or there. Whenever this comes up, we keep watching it for a moment. Watching it without immediately reacting to discern the push of feeling. The push of clamoring for our attention and clamoring for a reaction. Scratch me, scratch me. Stretch me, stretch me. Move me, move me. Just aware of this push to explore the conditionality of feeling.

The way feelings influence our mind. This suggestion is not induced through excruciating pain for her long periods. The suggestion is only for a moment to explore the push. And having explored that push then take the appropriate action: scratching, stretching or moving, whatever it may be.

And from having explored this push with painful feelings, we eventually also become aware of it with pleasant feelings. And at times even with mutual feelings the push for something more entertaining. That push our direct experience of conditionality.

Conditionality and impermanence. Two powerful insights to be taken along from this contemplation of feelings. Direct felt sense of impermanence and the direct experience of conditionality... at the crucial link where feeling can give rise to craving but does not have to give rise to craving.

And contemplating feelings with insight. We are planting the seeds of wisdom. Growing the seeds of insight. Step by step, progressing on the path to complete freedom from craving.

Keep practicing like this.

Read, Download or Print the Bonus Worksheet.

Sensing and Rating Anxiety in the Body

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