disentangling the mind through awareness of feelings
observing the breath, a sound arises—a repeating buzzer or car horn
—a sense of aversion arises
—then a thought "why do people have to be so impatient?"
—perhaps a memory of a place that was quiet or peaceful
—the mind moves into that fabrication, then perhaps launches into an inner dialogue "what did i do wrong or deserve to live here?"
—and so with thoughts and images we move farther away from the breath and the event, the sound, that interrupted
this is the process that repeats itself over and over again in the chain of co-dependent arising: sense contact with the world (phassa) leads to feeling (vedana), leads to craving (tanha) leads to attachment (upadana) leads to self-identification (bhavana).
So, can we trace the mental events backwards, the self condemnation, back to the memory of the better place, back to the aversion about noise, back to the car horn or buzzer.?
—we eventually wind up back with the breath
we can notice that when sensations arise, what triggers the movement away from present based experiences are mental fabrications (craving, clinging, selfing) attempting to explain away our feelings (vedana), the original response towards the sound, pain, etc.
—mental content is an attempt to manage, contain feelings
—often the mind launches into harmful, craving based actions based on felt body states
—we are unaware of what motivates our behavior—neuroscience: Similarly to a monkey riding on the back of an elephant, wherein the monkey believes it is steering the elephant; so too the conscious, rational mind believes its making decisions, but it has very limited input into what the mind decides to do. Our actions are largely driven by unconscious processes that are primed and chosen well before we gain conscious awareness.
this is the weakest link in the chain: when disruptions occur, we practice sitting with the sensations and the immediate feelings but not allowing the thoughts to land on top and start building distractions or sankharas.
—we learn that we can be with feelings without their taking us over, etc
—free will begins with being able to sit with feeling states and observe the cravings to act and think that arise, being able to delay having to follow any idea away from the present
the reason the entangled mind gets into so much trouble is because it is constantly trying to get rid of an internal feeling state externally.
—when we stay present we can ease the body, therefore lessing our impact on the world
two kinds of feelings
the more we sit with feeling states, it has become apparent to me that there are two kinds of feelings:
1) body sensations that are expressing feelings (for example, sensations in the stomach or chest, etc ) from
2) body sensations that are reactions to repressed feelings and are attempting to block or clamp down on feelings as they express themselves in the body (for example a tightenting in the throat or jaw).
expressive feelings have a spreading, often upwards feel to them, and can be frightening, as we might worry they'll take us over.
—these feeling states arise first
—this is why we fear them, as they seem to want to take us over
—when we sit with these feelings, often older stories will arise
repressive feelings have a pushing or clamping down effect; they're trying to block off or control what's occuring in the body below.
—these feeling states arise in response the former states
—repressive feelings are part of the first wave of self-repression, followed by thoughts.
—when we sit with repressive feelings, often future based fears about 'losing control' and 'going mad' will arise
—these are the dominant feelings that take over during panic attacks
practice discerning which body sensations are express feelings (for example, sensations in the stomach or chest, etc ) from the body feelings that are reactions to feelings and are attempting to block or clamp down on feelings (for example a tightenting in the throat or jaw)
over time i've found it helpful to allow the expressive feelings space, to give them attention and time to breath; whereas i find it useful to relax and breath into the repressive, secondary feelings.