Mindfulness of Feeling Tones

In the blog category “Guided Meditations”, I will provide detailed explanations for all the guided meditation tracks that I will place in the Resources section of this website. These blog posts will be hyperlinked from the “Guided Meditations” page under “Resources” menu option where these meditation tracks in mp3 format will be placed for streaming or for downloading.

Mindfulness of feeling tones is a very powerful application within the broad domain of mindfulness practice. There are three basic components to any emotion that arises within us: i) the thoughts or the stories behind the emotion ii) the physical sensations that reflect how the emotion manifests itself in the body and iii) the emotional moods or feeling tones in the mind. Feeling tones can be pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. It is the feeling tone keeps us hooked into our conditioning behavior of craving and aversion. We like whatever has a pleasant feeling tone, dislike whatever has an unpleasant feeling tone and are unaware of anything that has a neutral feeling tone. Consequently, we take actions based on our likes and dislikes. Feeling tones can become a linchpin for transformation because our actions are most often based on them rather than on the emotions directly.

In this guided meditation, I ask that we focus our attention on feeling tones that arise within us all the time. We bring our awareness to just the feeling tones by ignoring body sensations, sights and sounds. We only use our breath as an anchor for this practice. This is an important step because we are isolating feeling tones from the mass of mental phenomena that arise within us all the time on a moment to moment basis. We focus on the feeling tone of moment-to-moment experience and label them as pleasant or unpleasant or neutral and observe with detachment.

As soon as an emotion arises that has a pleasant feeling tone (for example, thought of a delicious meal that we plan to have after your meditation, planning for our next vacation, etc.), we will sense a gathering of energy in the body as it prepares to take action based solely on the pleasant feeling tone. This is the automatic reaction that follows the observance of a pleasant feeling tone. We just observe this phenomenon and see how soon it subsides by not taking any action.

In a similar way, as soon as an emotion arises that has an unpleasant feeling tone (for example, anxiety provoking thought of our next day at work, past memory of an action that hurt us, etc.), we will sense a gathering of energy in the body as it prepares to take action based solely on the unpleasant feeling tone. This is again an automatic reaction that follows the observance of an unpleasant feeling tone. In this case too, we just observe this phenomenon and see how soon it subsides by not taking any action.

A key insight that comes from this practice is that when we have a bad experience, we suffer. However, bad experience should not equate to suffering. It can be contained to just that experience and not be built into something much larger than what it actually is. Also, when we experience an unpleasant feeling tone, in our default state of mind, we quickly take action that overlays the underlying unpleasant feeling tone with something pleasant. The pleasant overlay could be in the form of an ice cream, alcohol, drug, cigarette, food, etc. After a couple of times, this action-reaction pattern can become automatic thereby leading to addiction behavior. Mindfulness of feeling tones can help us experience the genesis of addictive behavior and can give us some space within which we can take skillful actions and refrain from unskillful ones.

The total duration of this guided meditation is 16:18 minutes. There are three blocks of silence, each lasting for about 3 minutes.

Towards the beginning of this meditation, I request that we intentionally cultivate an attitude of patience, gentleness and kindness towards ourselves before we begin these exercises. It is very important that mindfulness meditations be accompanied by a sense of openness otherwise their effectiveness may be diminished. Towards the ending of this meditation, I request that we dedicate the merits of this practice to ourselves as well as to all others by affirming these statements:

“May I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I live with ease.
May all beings be happy, may all beings be peaceful, may all beings live with ease”

At the end of the day, we are practicing mindfulness meditation not just for ourselves but also for all others.

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