This section is dedicated to questions on Mindfulness Meditation from many students all over the world. If you have a question that you would like to ask you can said it to this address: Send a Message
thankyou and take care,
QUESTION from Christoph: Hello Stephen, thanks again for your valuable comments. When I try to recall situations during meditation that triggered strong emotions in the past (anger, fear etc.) I observe, that during meditation these emotions are very weak or not present at all.
What I tried to implement was recalling the emotions during meditation and softening into them to weaken them during meditation. Not sure if this makes sense, because they do not really come up. When I have similar situations outside of the meditation, the emotions are very strong again.
Is it possible that sounds (like voices) can be a main trigger for those emotions. This could be an explanation for what I mentioned above, because during meditation the triggers are thoughts or pictures (remembering) and not voices. Many of those emotions are triggered by the content people are telling me or writing me (internal sound that is reading as you explained in one of your takls) or by the sound of their voice. Seeing seems to be also a trigger, but it seems to be weaker then sounds. Interesting ....
ANSWER: Hi Chris, the trigger for strong emotional reactions can be a sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or thought memory, they are always triggered when something contacts one of the six sense doors. If you are more sensitive to sound then it may be one of your main triggers. The emotional charge is often stronger outside of formal meditation practice because our mindfulness / concentration tends to be weaker and we have les control over what we are experiencing.
It is a viable practice to trigger these emotional charges through a memory and sit with them, softening into it. This is training for doing the same during practice in everyday life where the triggers arise fast and can be very strong. Both are the same practice and lead to freedom through understanding, it is just takes more developed skill to do the meditation practice off the cushion then on it.
Keep doing what you are doing, keep investigating and softening into
QUESTION from Anomynous: This is really tough. I keep slipping into this feeling like I'm being smothered. I know there will be light. So I feel the feelings and how it feels - then what!!!! Feeling is still there. STill feel bad for what I might have done (what made me angry or whatever feelign it may be at the time) how can it be in the past when the past - something that just happened is still giving me such strong feelings.
ANSWER: Question:“This is really tough.”
It can feel that way but remember you dealing with your conditioned patterns, being with things that in the past you have been running away from. ‘Tough’ is a judgement, it is also just a feeling that is experienced, look at the game that is being played and you are the pawn, life is using ‘feeling’ to make you move. It may be tough to be with this feeling over time, but it is possible to be with it right now, this in reality is the only thing that is possible.
Question: “I keep slipping into this feeling like I'm being smothered. I know there will be light. So I feel the feelings and how it feels - then what!!!! “
Just be with the feeling, there is nothing else for you to do, what other choice do you have, you can’t run away from yourself? Keep watching the feeling, notice how hollow it is, notice that it can not hurt you, it can scream, shout, threaten but it has no other power then the power you give it. It is a toothless tiger, start laughing at it, let it know you have seen through the magicians trick, that it’s solidity is an illusion.
Question: “Feeling is still there.”
Did you expect it to go away? Is there really anything wrong with it being there?
The feeling is just doing what it is supposed to do. When I want it to stop raining do I just look out the window and watch it expecting it to stop? Can I stop the sun coming up and setting through the sheer will of my desire for it to go away?
The feeling is not the problem, it is just doing what it is supposed to do and when it has finished it will go away – everything goes away – nothing is permanent. The problem is that you want it to go away, you want to control what you experience and the very act of wanting to control things outside of your control is what causes you pain. The feeling itself contains no pain, it is no different to seeing a sight or hearing a sound, if you struggle against what is you will have pain.
Accept what you cannot control – with acceptance your relationship will change – when your relationship to what is changes the pain will go away – then you will just have a feeling, pleasant feeling, unpleasant feeling they are all the same, hollow and insubstantial, they can’t hurt you, they only have the power, the substance that you give them.
Question: “Still feel bad for what I might have done (what made me angry or whatever feeling it may be at the time) What does feeling bad feel like? Is it a bad thing that shouldn’t be there or just trying to teach you something?
If you didn’t feel bad about things that you have done that caused pain to yourself or others then wouldn’t you just keep on doing them, feeling bad is your moral compass, it is a good experience, it protects you. If we didn’t feel the sensations of burning when we put our hand in a fire then we would get seriously burnt, are you saying that a fire shouldn’t have a feeling of burning? Isn’t that feeling there to protect us?
You are talking about something that is good, something that is your friend and saying that it is bad, can you see how funny this is, the delusion? Where would you be without this friend, without this warning of when you have hurt yourself or others?
Question: " How can it be in the past when the past - something that just happened is still giving me such strong feelings.”
It is in the past, where is it now? It exists nowhere other then as a memory and the memory only exists when you think about it in the present.
Don’t think the thought and the feeling from the past won’t arise in the present, why waste your time remembering something that will cause unhappiness, what a waste of life. The memory contains the emotional charge, this emotional charge was attached to the memory when you reacted in the past. When the thought arises and you think it, the feeling of the emotion attached to it arises in the present, if you do not want the feeling to arise stop giving value to the memory.
You are experiencing the result of past actions, the feelings are the karmic fruit of your choices, accept the fruit – it is a reflection of your past relationships to what was happening then, but it is not what is happening now, what is happening now is you are experiencing a feeling, it is neither good or bad within itself, it is your relationship to it that gives it its life, its potential
Just be with what you are experiencing, notice your resistance to it and soften in that resistance, when you do this you remove the suffering from the experience. Suffering is an optional extra, it is a relationship to what is happening, it has nothing to do with what is happening.
You are hanging onto a hot coal, why not open your hand and let go of it?
QUESTION from Anomynous: I've been walking around most of yesterday and now today feeling miserable and sad. I'm not sure if anything is troubling me or this is just part of how I've been on and off for last couple of months and needing to deal with things on a deeper level like we've been doing.
Obviously I don't want to feel this way. I started the day off with loving kindness meditation,, helped somewhat but now walking around like a loser who can't see all the goodness around her. This is just a feeling right? It shouldn't be affecting me right? Am I choosing to let this happen. I'm going to step away now and do some breathing and bring myself to the present, although I thought I was in the present but clearly not!
ANSWER:What you are experiencing is just a feeling, that is all it is, it is neither good or bad. You are still categorising feelings when they arise as good and bad – loving kindness feeling = good, feeling like a loser = bad.
Notice your tendency to think one is good, one is bad, in reality they are not good or bad, this is your judgement. Notice how your judgement of them is the problem not the feelings themselves, the judgement makes them good or bad. Start watching how you categorize everything in your life as things you like and things you don’t like – what is going on there?
What would it be like to not have the feelings define your happiness, in reality you can be happy regardless of what feeling is present. They are just feelings after all, just another experience like a sound or a sight, these are just an experience of touch – sensations in your body.
Just view them as you would a sight or sound, if you feel tension then use gentle breathing to relax into the resistance – the judgement