Buddhism and Meditation

Life With Full Attention – Week 3


Yesterday the MK Meditation Association practiced a Buddhist meditation called the Mindfulness of Breathing. After a tea break we continued with our Life with Full Attention Course. Here are the notes from the meeting:

 

Life With Full AttentionWeek 3Feelings / Vedana

 

 

Vedana (Pali) – the fundamental “feel” or “taste” of life. All experience has a flavour. Whether a physical sensation (touch/taste/smell etc) or the mind (memory/fantasy/thoughts). Traditionally explained as either: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral (somewhere in between).

 Emotions are another type of feeling – more secondary – how we feel “about” things – something we create after the fact. Vedana is more immediate, it is in the sensation – not an idea about it.

 

The Texture of Life

 

1/ We do not like unpleasant Vedana

 

  • we try to avoid it and bring it to an end
  • we usually react with varying degrees of aversion
  • unpleasant Vedana cannot be avoided – it is part of life

 

 

We can change how we respond

 

We can be aware of what we feel, aware that we are feeling it, then we can investigate it – rather than blindly reacting.

 

The reaction can make things worse:

 

  • our distress becomes highlighted and then more vivid
  • we tense up in the body, fight or flight
  • the “stories” can take over: “why are they doing this to me…they are so selfish….”

 

 

2/ We like pleasant Vedana

 

  • we want more
  • but how much pleasure do we really enjoy?
  • do we tend to rush from one thing to the next?
  • do we enjoy every mouth full of a good meal or do we forget the main course as our mind turns towards dessert?

 


The first goal in being mindful of pleasant Vedana is learning to relish it!

 

  • The Discipline of Delight – in order to really relish a pleasurable experience there has to be some self-restraint
  • craving to repeat an experience is Dukkha (unsatisfactory)
  • the law of diminishing returns means that we are playing a loosing game

 

 

We need to handle pleasure carefully.

 

“He who binds to himself a joy, Does the wingèd life destroy;

But he who kisses the joy as it flies, Lives in eternity’s sunrise” – William Blake

 

3/ Neutral Vedana is somewhere in the middle

 

  • perhaps our most common experience
  • a sort of bland OK, merging into boredom
  • how much of this is a lack of sensitivity?
  • embrace the neutral – don’t run away!
  • be discerning, look for the subtleties and nuances in the “grey experiences” perhaps there is more going on than you think

 

 

Practices for this Week

 

1/ The Vedana Diary

 

Keep a record of painful, pleasant and neutral experiences – try to notice them before they harden into moods or attitudes.

 

We can train ourselves to notice the pleasant as it’s happening and not skip over it (relish!).

 

We can train ourselves to catch notice unpleasant feelings before they turn to negative mental states – try to open up the gap. Acknowledge what is happening.

 

Embrace neutral experiences – cultivate interest into what is happening. Don’t be scared of boredom, what happens if you don’t run towards stimulation?

 

2/ The Mindful Walk

 

Continue with the intention to take a daily mindful walk – just do your best.

 

Notice comfort and discomfort in the sensations of the body and in your environment. What do you like? What is jarring or irritating?

 

Emphasise the pleasant experience. Give more awareness to this. Look for pleasant situations, however mild.

 

 

3/ The 3 Minute Breathing Space

 

See if you can practice this twice a day – particularly if things are getting on top of you.

 

1/ Stop. Sit comfortably. Hands on your lap. Close your eyes.

2/ Scan the body. Soften. Release any tension – face, shoulders, belly

3/ Become aware of Sounds – broaden your awareness

4/ Tune in to the breath – take a few breaths and follow them

5/ Come back to the body & sounds.

6/ Continue with your day.

 

 

4/ The Path of Meditation

 

Try to find 15 or 20 minutes per day if you can – if not, then start with 5 minutes.

Use your diary – schedule it in.

Don’t try to do too much. Be realistic.

Try not to get disheartened if it doesn’t happen.

Every meditation you manage to do is a victory.

 

Do not look for deep or powerful experience – just try to do the practice.

Decide which practice to do before you sit down.

Use an alarm if it helps.

Led meditations on mp3 can be downloaded at: www.freebudhistaudio.com

 

Remember:

 

  • Fill in your your journal daily
  • Contact your mindfulness buddy
  • Planning and supportive conditions will really help