Insight Through Feelings (2/4)

This week we return to the second of the Four Applications of Mindfulness, a theme initially highlighted in our previous post Back to basics.

Insight Through Feelings

The four close applications of mindfulness—to the body, feelings, mental events, and all phenomena—are foundational for the practice of Vipashyana, or insight meditation. Matthieu Ricard provides guidance regarding cultivating Vipashyana.

First, with Mindfulness of the Body, we closely mind the body and breath; we relax and ground ourselves in physical presence.

This provides the necessary grounding for a second subtler step, which is to explore our feelings. Through the Mindfulness of Feelings, we step by step enhance our self-awareness against habitual reactions and their effects. Instead of reacting on the spot, we gain more ability to choose a response rooted in care and compassion.

Learning to apply mindfulness to feelings is especially beneficial if our identification with these feelings is strong. We can embark on an endless roller-coaster of positive and negative feelings, depending on the causes and conditions we find ourselves in. Our mind itself consists of an endless series of thoughts feeding our memories, feelings, imaginations and projections of the future. The challenge with attachment to feelings is that everything around us is constantly changing, most of it being out of our control.

Mindfulness of Feelings

The second of the four applications of mindfulness explores the fundamental nature of feelings defined as vedana (Sanskrit) which can fall in three categories: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Even if such a categorisation can appear simplistic considering the number of ways our feelings can colour our perception, these three categories are considered to influence us particularly in terms of what we tend to move away from or towards. For instance we will tend to move towards what we like, move away from what we do not like, and ignore what we feel neutral about.

Continue the course: Mindfulness of Feelings.

Good wishes with your practice! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Photo: Ray Hennnessy.


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