We’ve spent 10 days looking at the first way of establishing mindfulness – mindfulness of the body – including mindfulness of breathing, body postures, actions of body, speech and mind, body parts, elemental qualities, and the changing, impermanent nature of our bodies.
The second foundation of mindfulness is often called mindfulness of feelings. In English, the word “feelings” can mean many more things than what’s intended in this context. Here, we are more interested in the “flavor” of an experience, which we can classify into one of three categories: pleasant, unpleasant, or neither (aka neutral).
The first aspect of this practice is just to know what flavor of experience is happening. Perhaps in your meditation, you hear a sound, and you can notice whether it is pleasant, unpleasant, or neither. We can also notice how this feeling-tone changes.
Jill Shepherd has a brief talk about mindfulness of feelings:
And then you can follow that up with a 30 minute guided meditation, where we’re invited to explore pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral:
Outside of meditation, eating is an excellent opportunity to practice. The first bite of that sandwich might be very pleasant, but if you pay attention, you’ll likely notice that as you get accustomed to the tastes and sensations, the next bites might tend to more neutral, and if you’re getting full, you might even notice unpleasantness.
Jan Chozen Bays has a book on mindful eating, and she wrote a blog on the topic:
In the blog, she suggests four mindful eating exercises:
Pick your mindful eating homework
(1) Try taking the first four sips of a cup of hot tea or coffee with full attention?
(2) If you are reading and eating, try alternating these activities, not doing both at once? Read a page, then put the book down and eat a few bites, savoring the tastes, then read another page, and so on.
(3) At family meals, you might ask everyone to eat in silence for the first five minutes, thinking about the many people who brought the food to your plates.
(4) Try eating one meal a week mindfully, alone and in silence. Be creative. For example, could you eat lunch behind a closed office door, or even alone in our car?
I’ve gotten into a habit at work of eating while working, so I’m going to try her suggestion of alternating the activities of eating and working. I’ll post a follow up comment after lunch today, to let you know how it goes, so check the blog later! I invite you to share your reflections too.
With best wishes,