In the second foundation of Mindfulness we are told to bring awareness to the feeling and the feeling tones. This means awareness to our emotional states, the sensations that come with our thoughts. For example, I think of my favorite dessert and there is a specific feeling tone that will accompany my thought. Most likely one of pleasure or maybe even escape seeing I am in recovery from an eating disorder. This one thought may also bring up a feeling of guilt or shame if I have put myself on a diet or a strict eating program. You see this second level of mindfulness is where we really start digging in to the root of the present moment. What am I feeling? Is it good? is it bad?
The struggle with this particular foundation is, what if you don’t know what the feeling tone is? What if there are a million different feelings rushing through your mind all at once? How then do you slow down enough to be present with what feeling is there?
This particular issue has been a problem for most of my life, I have lived in day dreams and escapes for probably the whole 30 years of my existence. The idea of the truth for me only comes when I feel safe and secure, which is almost impossible for me. Trauma plays a huge role in how we connect to the sense experiences.
So now I am going to tell you how I try to get to the root of these emotional states. It all goes back to the first foundation of mindfulness which is to learn to recognize the feeling tones in the body. Is my chest tight right now? If I am feeling some type of anxiety right now can I sit and experience that feeling and when it goes away maybe then I can ask what the emotional sensation attached the anxiety is. However in the moment of intense anxiety I may find it hard to see clearly into the root cause. So first when I am in a moment of physical stress or anxiety I work to release and accept that bodily sensation first. I let all the thoughts float on and I bring full awareness to releasing the pressure that has built up in my body. Switching from the fight or flight response to the rest and digest response. Then once I am aware of my body sensations I can slowly start to be honest with myself about my emotional feeling tones that were triggered after the bodily anxiety started to come up. For me my body always presents the feelings before my mind catches up to them. Trauma teaches us to react before we think because we must stay safe.
This also takes brutal honesty and hard work. Always be kind to yourself and when the stress of digging into an emotional state becomes to much accept that and relax back into your breath. The key here is to always know how to return to the breath it will always be the anchor that holds you down.
Can you be fearless with yourself today?