When you have worked with body relaxation for a couple of weeks, you may want to begin working with some other components of your sensory input.
The set we are going to explore next is your subjective sensory experiences. There are three components you will learn to track; inner emotional feelings, inner sight and inner self talk. By separating these out and concentrating on one at a time you will be gaining control and understanding of your own behaviour and responses.
This is a very important and often quite life changing piece of the work. You should write to me if you have questions or concerns. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Also see the contact page for email and details to arrange a telephone consultation, should you wish.
Remember the basic posture instructions. pdf file Do one of the three for some days to become familiar with it. Then try each of the others the same way.
1 – Feel in – the actual sensations in your emotional body. This is anywhere in your body you feel emotions. It can be a very localized or a more global body location. It can be moving or steady. You are not trying to change it, only becoming familiar with it.
Notice where they are, intensity, local or global, moving or changing and so on.
Label “feel in”
2 – See in – You inner visualizations.
Are they clear or vague? Do they fade when you notice them? Where do you notice them. They often seem to be in a field around or behind the eyes.
Label “see in”.
3 – Hear in – This is your internal self talk. It is usually experience somewhere in the head. Again just notice without getting caught up in the meaning. Sometimes you will notice some kind of a sub audible murmur or sound of word thoughts at a precociousness level. This is all part of hear in.
Label “hear in”.
When you have become comfortable with each of the above, you can then use any combination of these three sensory fields. Initially practice with single focus. Later you can combine them. If you are changing the focus during a sit, stay with what you chose for a few minutes before switching the focus. At this time you can deliberately change your focus but stay with the technique of noting and labeling.
Note is that you notice and pay attention to the specific sensory item you are focusing on. There will be other sensory stimuli happening but leave it on the back burner and pay attention to the ones that you are deliberately focusing on. Labeling is when you say either in your mind, in a whisper or in a calm voice the appropriate label. When you find yourself holding the focus you may drop back to only noting.
If you are ever in an extremely overwhelmed state; label out loud in an artificially created, gentle, matter of fact voice and keep this up as long as it takes to settle down. This will work and is an effective way to handle difficult emotions.
Here is a good article on equanimity. You may have started to experience this with your practice. It will help you to understand the importance of this aspect to your practice.
Shinzen’s discussion of equanimity