This week we opened our field of awareness to include feeling tones, or vedana (in Pali).
‘Contemplation of feelings is a meditation practice of considerable potential. This potential is based on the simple but ingenious method of directing awareness to the very first stages of the arising of likes and dislikes, by clearly noting whether the present moment’s experience is felt as “pleasant”, or “unpleasant”, or neither. Thus to contemplate feelings means quite literally to know how one feels, and this with such immediacy that the light of awareness is present before the onset of reactions, projections, or justifications in regard to how one feels. Undertaken in this way, contemplation of feelings will reveal the surprising degree to which one’s attitudes and reactions are based on this initial affective input provided by feelings.’
– Analayo, Satipatthana, The Direct Path To Realization
- Feeling tones are the flavor of ‘pleasantness’, ‘unpleasantness’ or ‘neutrality” that arise with each experience, be it a physical or mental experience.
- With awareness, feeling tones are seen to be the ‘link’ between the immediacy of an experience and the subsequent “liking” or ‘disliking.”
- For example, an itch often arises concurrently with a feeling tone of ‘unpleasantness’ and then we squirm or scratch, acting out of avoidance to the feeling of ‘unpleasant’. As we become more conscious of the feeling tone process, we become less reactive and more spacious around the experience. The primary ‘itch’ can remain or leave, but we no longer add resistance to the itch as we become mindful of the feeling tone of ‘unpleasant’ that arises with it.
- Feeling tones pass through our awareness like ever-changing patterns of weather. Observing them as they are strengthens a stabilized Heart of equanimity.
- Deepened sensitivity to feeling tones provides access to more intuitive forms of knowing which complement our more rational modes of knowing.
- Continue to add another 5 minutes to your sitting practice. This means you’ll be sitting for 15 minutes each day. Open your awareness to noticing primary feelings of ‘pleasant’, ‘unpleasant’ or ‘neutral’ as you observe objects arising moment by moment
- Pick another daily practice that you occurs regularly through your day. With attentive mindfulness, notice the feeling tones that arise as you perform this activity. And then reflect on how the awareness of those feeling tones affects your qualitative experience of that activity.
If you have time, please listen to Myoshin Kelley’s talk on Vedana here.
Have an excellent week of awareness!
Originally published on August 18, 2010