Mind is potent. What we think, what we say, creates our experience of reality and defines our quality of life.
Buddhist wisdom tells us that our natural state is fluid, supple, and clear. Why then do we sometimes feel solid, opaque, and stuck?
We can look closely at ingrained patterns of thinking for insight. Buddhist teaching identifies three primary feeling tones (vedanas): pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. Each is linked closely with a reflexive mental reaction.
First noticing, then gently challenging the seemingly inextricable connection between a stimulus and an unconscious, automatic mental reaction can soften the misperception of ourselves as rigid or limited, and open the gates of possibility for a fresh, skillful responsiveness – a more easeful, spacious way of being.
I. Pleasant sensation creates craving, an insatiable desire for permanence, for intensification, for more and more good feeling.
What if instead we could fully savor and freely enjoy pleasant sensations just as they are without clinging or embellishment?
II. Unpleasant sensation yields aversion, hardening, pushing away: a disconnection, or severing from whatever or whomever is disliked.
What if it were possible to tolerate necessary discomforts in life, secure in our own resilience and basic safety, without shutting down or numbing?
III. Neutral sensation is perhaps the most elusive and evocative of the three. What parts of ourselves are we not noticing, not including in our perceptual field? Dulling or numbness due to convenience or disinterest results in a misperception of reality – not seeing the whole picture, not feeling fully.
What if we could relax into what is, exactly as it is right now, confident in our own skillfulness, inner resources, and adaptability?
Mind is totipotent. Our minds and brains are in continuous process of becoming, learning, and unlearning. Healthy adults create between 5,000-10,000 new neurons each day!
Simple awareness of pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral sensations and their affiliate reactions allows space and possibility for different choices, and an empowering taste of equanimity and self-directed change. The results of such healthy self-awareness and capability could have far-reaching effects in our interconnected, interdependent world.
Photo Credit: Erin Joan Lamberty