In MIDL Mindfulness Training 47/52 you develop your sensitivity to movements of attention towards the experience of the sense door of taste. Learning to observe awareness of taste creates a grounding for mindfulness within daily life and also the ability to observe attraction or aversion as they arise towards what is tasted. This sensitivity allows you to soften your relationship towards what is tasted, deconditioning any habitual pattern of attraction or aversion through mindful non-participation. Submit Your Question
Your Question: Seems that the skills you cover in this training session will be helpful as tools when I am tempted to overeat. I tend to binge eat sometimes when I am upset.
Stephen Procter: Overeating arises as a means of dealing with background anxiety and often arises when we are left alone to be with ourselves. It is during these times that we experience our own heart and seek to hide from it by seeking pleasant feeling in any way that we can get it. After extracting the pleasant feeling from the ritual of eating we then can fall into a cycle of self deprecation and dislike, and the habitual cycle of avoidance then continues.
The key to bringing this cycle to an end is not found within avoiding food, in the same way as any other cycle of addiction it is not what we are addicted to that is the problem it is what we are running away from. We need to address what is driving the cycle: this is the base experience of anxiety that is driven by a difficult relationship with our selves.
The first step is to develop mindfulness of our habitual breathing patterns and their relationship to when we are experiencing anxiousness. This is trained in MIDL Mindfulness Training 3/52: Retraining Autonomous Breathing. The second is to heal our relationship with our self until we can become our own best friend. As our best friend we always have our back and would never do anything to harm our self. This is done by forgiving things that we have done in the past to disrespect our selves and others. And then by forgiving what others have done to disrespect us. MIDL Mindfulness Training 32/52: Forgiveness: Healing the Heart.
In this way we remove the root and the cycle comes to an end.
Your Question: How can mental activities have elemental qualities ?
Stephen Procter: After hearing someone say something that you don't like, you may experience a mental 'contracting', 'tightening or hardening'. The contracting / tightening is an experience of wind element, the experience of hardness is earth element.
If your attention then moves towards that person, you may then experience your attention as 'expanding' and 'moving' - wind element. When your attention reaches the person you may experience it 'sticking' on them, this 'stickiness' and 'cohesion' that you experience as your mind obsesses and won't let go is the experience of water element.
As the anger builds in your mind you may experience it as 'tension', 'heat' (fire element), and 'restlessness', and so this cycle of elements continues. All the elements that can be experienced within your body can be experienced within the mind, actually all experience at the six senses before mental proliferation through conceptual interpretation and thinking is known as the four elements.
Your Question: I think the example foods listed at the beginning were chosen as generally pleasant, but I avoid all of them because of vaying severity of allergies, but especially bananas. By the time hot chocolate was mentioned, I actually gagged. Interesting!
Stephen Procter: Yes play with unpalatable foods as much as those that you like. First question I would like you to ask is "What does it actually mean to dislike or like something?"
We speak as if liking something or disliking something is a given, but in reality when we are born into this world everything is neutral - our likes and dislikes are cultivated throughout our life. Pay particular attention to the Vedana: Pleasant feeling or unpleasant feeling that underlies the taste. Start to observe that when your mind produces a "I don't like" that a feeling of unpleasantness not only underlies the taste but also the thought.
Use the MIDL Softening Into skills developed earlier to Soften / relax into your dislike of the Vedana: Unpleasant feeling and see what happens. When Softening Into unpleasantness never do it to make it go away or change but rather to relax your resistance to it. This Softening Into vedana can be refined to a very deep level and opens the path. Of course the same can be done with Softening Into the desire to experience the pleasantness (but of course most people do not want to dissolve the pleasant feeling).
The interesting part is that any clinging onto pleasant feeling makes it collapse and turn into unpleasantness because clinging creates fear and fear pushes away- this is its nature and this desire to experience pleasantness arises because of aversion to unpleasantness. Keep investigating and refine your MIDL Softening skill until there is 'no' like or dislike within your mind and equanimity arises within it.