Instructions for Mindfulness of Feeling

Try out these tips to invite more moments of mindfulness into your life.

• Begin your meditation as previously instructed using the breath as the primary object of meditation.
• If a sensation or experience in the body is strong enough to pull your attention away from the breath, allow your awareness to rest in that sensation.
• Notice whether the experience is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.
• As different experiences become predominant in your awareness, continue to notice the feeling quality of each experience, and your reaction to it such as holding on, pushing away or becoming bored.
• As you meditate with the feeling quality of experience, notice whether it is something that lasts, or whether it is something that comes into awareness, is present for a while and then dissipates.
• If you become lost in thought or sensations, when you notice it look back at the thought or sensation to see whether it was pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. This will help to reveal how the mind gets caught in reacting to the feeling-tone of an object of experience. Then, gently return your attention to the breath and continue with the instructions above.
• If you ever feel confused about what you are experiencing or what you should do, simply return your attention to the breath.
• Continue with the practice of mindfulness of feeling until your meditation period is over.
• After your period of meditation, you may find it useful to reflect on what you have noticed about your experience. Here are some questions to explore as you reflect on your experience. Does every moment of your experience have a feeling-tone, either pleasant, unpleasant or neutral? Is there actually a tendency to hold onto the pleasant, to push away the unpleasant and to be bored by the neutral? If you bring mindfulness to a pleasant experience does it last or does it come into awareness and then leave? How about unpleasant experiences and neutral ones?
• During the day, spend some time noticing the feeling tone of your experiences and how you react to them.

Fight Fire With Water

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If your honest you can admit that revenge feels good. It's only natural to want to fight someone who hurt others but I've always hated the phrase fight fire with fire; don't most people use water...

For a while I did not know how to turn the other cheek. Then I started working with people who'd been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. I've had clients hit, spit, choke and sexually harass me. As an employee I was not allowed to retaliate, instead staff had a mandatory training course where we the learn steps to take to help deescalate a client's intense and sometimes scary temperament. There I learned to see the bad behaviors as separate from the good people who wronged me.

It became easy to forgive my clients because I knew about their injury and my heart went out to them; in a way their bad behaviors were acceptable, though never justified. It also helped that a major part of my job was to institute consequences for bad behavior; the clients had motivation to exchange offensive behavior for better communication skills. The longer I worked in the field, the stronger my affection grew for people who's actions were often hurtful.

I have many fond memories of my clients and the things that I've learned in those days. One thing that I've learned is that all people have egos and baggage that lead them to react inconsiderately sometimes. So what do you don't have your agitator's medical history. It helps to first have a strong motivation to stay calm and to believe that there is strength in patience. When you think that something important is in jeopardy anger becomes our can of spinach. Taking in anger, instead of observing it, gets you prepared to fight. However when anger comes from within it helps us to see what boundaries need to be set to prevent future attacks. It also helps us to see grace as a powerful weapon against injustice.

Of course I'm not perfect; I'm still learning how to accept people unconditionally. One thing that helps me to have patience is to think about moments in my life that my action resemble, even vaguely, the agitator's offense. Armed with humility I find it easier to imagine why the person may react in a negative way. This practice usually leads to empathy and help me to become aware of the best way to handle the situation.

Sometimes fighting fire with fire is necessary, like when there's not access to water or when the fire is too big to manage. In other words you may have to fight from time to time, with words or occasionally to physically defend yourself. When you need to react quickly the adrenaline from fear or anger will help... But if you have some patience handy I still say try that first : )