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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Buddhist Singing BowlSitting in meditation last night, I had a rather pleasant sit. Sitting with a facilitator leading the sit, I followed from concentration into open awareness. As usual, my mind wandered. I was able to gently bring my mind back and avoid the judgement that I often have. In the traditional open awareness practice, we were instructed to note where our attention was. The facilitator included the examples of breath, physical sensation, thought, and sound. All was quite pleasant until the facilitator said, "For these last few minutes before the bell rings, put extra effort forth to focus."

As soon as this was said, anxiety took over. Although I was in the midst of a pleasant sit, the thought of ending the sit brought about great emotion. I had been able to bring my mind back and settle throughout the sit, but I began to struggle with the anxiety. It was slightly stronger than anything else I had experienced during my meditation, and my mind followed it for a bit. Bringing it back, I had an interesting insight.

I tried noting that my focus had turned to a feeling. However, it was rather abstract for me to see this anxiety as a feeling. I put effort forth to truly be presently aware, and found that the "feeling" rested greatly in my body. My heart rate had increased, which I could feel in my chest and my arms and my shoulders and neck became tense. Noticing the physical sensation, it truly was where the anxiety rested.

My mind also had a part in the anxiety, but it was far less obvious that it was in my body. When I heard that the sit was almost over, my mind habitually activated, and the anxiety manifested in my body. My conclusion with this experience was that the anxiety rested mostly in my body.

It is not always easy to identify where a feeling rests, or how it is present with us. I know when I have pleasant and unpleasant emotions, but can not often pinpoint where they rest. Physical pain is simple to locate, as are thoughts. Emotions have somewhat evaded my understanding. With this experience, I see how emotions are an interaction between my mind and body, and affect more than one part of me. Emotions are spread out throughout my human experience and thus harder to locate, but seeing how heavily they rest in the body, I hope to use this in my daily life dealing with emotions.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

In daily life, we have many experiences.  Sounds, smells, physical sensations, tastes, sights, thoughts, and emotions fill our lives.  Although we are constantly being flooded by stimuli, we still have time to add a lot to our direct experience.  There is a big difference between our direct experience and what we add on to it.

Direct Experience

Our direct experience is often lost with everything going on inside us.  Our direct experience is the sensation we are experiencing.  Without adding on anything, our direct experience is simple.  Pain in our knee, the smell of coffee, or the sound of cars passing by are all direct experiences.  Direct experience can be painful, pleasurable, or neutral.  However, our direct experience is just this, and nothing else.

Without judgement, our direct experience is more than enough to focus on.  Practicing mindfulness, we become aware of what are bodies are telling us.  Through body scans and walking meditations, we learn to be mindful of the sensations in our bodies.  Hearing meditations help us become aware of the sounds that we experience every day.  Through these meditative practices, we become more aware of our direct experiences.  We have innumerable experiences throughout the day if we are being mindful of them.  With focus on our direct experience, we are able to be mindful of and grateful for the world around us.

Add-Ons

What happens after we have an experience?  We add-on.  We feel pain in our knee, and we begin thinking about how out of shape we are, how we shouldn't have worked out so hard, or how we will be in even more pain shortly.  These add-ons are thoughts in our heads that are stealing us from the present moment.  Add-ons are not helpful for us, as we are not maintaining our mindfulness.

When we are being mindful, we focus on the direct experience.  When we begin adding things on, we are acting unskillfully.  Add-ons are stories we make up in our head, are the result of delusion and attachment, and prevent us from living mindfully.  Add-ons often rule our lives.  Most of our thoughts and emotions are actually add-ons rather than direct experiences.  As we add things on to our experience, we spend the majority of our days focusing on add-ons rather than the sensations.

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