Around ten years ago, I was part of a Buddhist meditation class. After a particularly stressful week, in which I’d not been allocated a supervisor for a project, I came into the class in a pretty low mood.
When I checked in, my teacher’s first question was “How does that feel?”
I feel betrayed, hurt and angry.
Because that means all three of my choices were given the option, and turned me down.
“Okay, so it feels personal. Is it really though?”
Well, they’re over-subscribed and they can only take so many people, so I know it’s not intended personally, but it still hurts.
“Okay, good. What if you couldn’t feel that betrayal and hurt? Stop thinking and feel. What would it be like if you could not feel hurt? Who would you be without them?”
Erm.. I’d still be me, just me who didn’t feel betrayed?
“Alright.. I mean what feelings and what is left of you if you couldn’t feel betrayed?”
And I stopped. And felt. Really felt my body, my headspace – explored the possibilities.
“Ahh. You feel tired. So this is tiredness.”
The idea of the exercise wasn’t to stop feeling the emotions or to block out my experience. If anything, it added to the feelings; I noticed that I’m full of worry, of fear and of tiredness, beneath all those feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt.
In The Body
However, I noticed that those emotions; they’re not in my head; they’re in my body.
I’m generally familiar with feeling my emotions but this was a revelation to me.
This was a technique Hiro Boga used in a Sovereignty Kindergarten class back in 2010 too – and I remember I only tried it once that summer, but got really strong feelings from it. The focus was different, but the technique was the same; the results of a profound “Woah, I feel like this and I had no idea” are the same.
Since I first tried this in meditation, I’ve been trying to check in with it; with the “Vedana” or sensations; the emotions I feel within my body. Sometimes we can go so long without actually ‘being’ with ourselves.
So today I’m asking you to connect. Consider this post your little reminder to check-in with your body.
Let’s start the conversation between mind, body and emotion.
- Have you found yourself feeling frustrated or angry lately? Where did you feel it?
- What feelings are behind, under or embracing that anger? If you removed that ability to feel frustrated: what would be left?
- And where do you feel that in your body?