The Inner Body Technique
Why do we observe sensations on our body during the Inner Body technique? Let's go deeper into this question now. The following is a theoretical explanation, but please keep in mind, the actual technique itself is very simple to perform and will be taught to you in a very methodical comprehensive way in the SoundMind Meditation program.
The six sense doors
Everything we experience in our day-to-day reality is some sort of sensation. We are always constantly bombarded with sensations all day long. Our mind comes in contact with physical reality through our six sense doors: touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, and thought. When something from the outside comes in contact with the mind, it does so through any one or all of these sense doors. After this contact is made, our mind goes through the following process of interpreting this contact:
First the mind cognates, or discerns what has happened. Second, the mind categorizes this experience into good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. The third part of the mind does something interesting; it actually produces a sensation on the body, which is pleasant, unpleasant or neutral according to how we categorized the initial contact. The last part of the mind is the part that we are most interested in. This is the reaction. We actually react to the sensations that our mind produces as well as the initial sensation from our sense doors. This can produce a negative feed back loop. Because our reaction is now actually a new mental contact from our thought sense door, we go through the same mental process that we did for the initial contact and get to the last part of the mind again, and produce more unpleasant sensations, which in turn causes a reaction that again produces more unpleasant sensations. This constant agitation and reactivity of our mind can make us boil over in anger, sadness, depression, frustration, or whatever we are feeling if we lose control. How can we stop this multiplication of our misery from happening?
The angry man
Here's an example: If your mind comes in contact with the sight and sound sense doors in the form of someone who is angry and aggressive, you may or may not react very strongly. In fact, you may even react with pleasant sensations if that person is angry at someone else. You may see this as funny or amusing. You will, on the other hand react with anger if this person is directing his abusive words at you, or is angry at you. In this instance, your ego feels threatened, and thus categorizes this contact as very negative. The third part of the mind (discussed above) produces very unpleasant sensations on your body. As a result, these unpleasant sensations make you feel anger (the reactive part of the mind), and you may speak out and return the action to your aggressor in some verbal or physical way. You are literally feeling your anger on your body, as a physiological feeling, and reacting to your own mental complex that produced the unpleasant sensation from the third part of your mind. In reality, you are not reacting to the angry aggressor, although it may seem so, you are reacting to your mind's labeling of the experience as "unpleasant" which resulted in unpleasant sensations on your body (a "feeling"). In other words you are reacting to the unpleasant feelings on your body which resulted from your mental processing of the situation. The reaction-sensation complex itself causes our mind to go through the same process again, to produce more unpleasant feelings, and so on... (unpleasant feelings cause us to react to those unpleasant feelings which cause us to react to those unpleasant feelings which cause us to react again... and so on, in a negative feedback loop that can last for days, weeks, even years depending on how deeply we have reacted.) This is how some people lose control and boil in anger, they are reacting to themselves reacting to themselves reacting, and so on, over and over. They have entered this negative loop of pure reactive anger. In ignorance, what they ultimately fail to realize is the true source of their anger -their own mind!! Their mind has painted a picture of reality, and now reacts to this picture, whether or not this picture is even accurate. We all do this. Sometimes we are so reactive that we can't see reality with clarity, and so we react to the drama we have created in our mind.
Same sound, same sight, but two different reactions
Now if you look closer at this scenario, it becomes very clear. The angry person, and his abusive words were not the cause of your anger. The same person and the same words of abuse, caused you to feel both pleasant and unpleasant feelings in different scenarios. The only difference was how your mind interpreted this contact. If the contact was directed at your friend, even though our mind also came in contact with the sound and image of the angry man, this was funny and you laughed at your friend's expense. Your ego may have even inflated a little as you lecture your friend after the incident telling him how he may have been partly to blame, how you know best, and that he should listen to you and not get himself into trouble, because after all, you are so great and are never to blame. But if the angry man aimed his abuse at you, this was a direct attack on you, and your ego now felt threatened, so you reacted to your mind's interpretation of the same exact contact. Your mind said, "I am never wrong, how dare they say this to ME!", and produced unpleasant sensations on your body as a result. Only then did you react to those unpleasant sensations with anger. And so, we have the same angry man, the same abusive words, and two totally different reactions, one pleasant, the other unpleasant! This mental process happens so quickly and so instantaneously, that we don't even realize it is occurring. We are under the illusion that this person or scenario is making us angry and that they are to blame for our miserable feelings, when in reality, only our mind can make us feel miserable. In other words, the way our mind reacts is the actual cause of our misery.
How do we stop the multiplication process? Equanimity.
So how can we stop this process from getting out of control? How can we react differently? The answer is very simple and yet very difficult to practice without developing our awareness. We must develop equanimity to the sensations that we come in contact with. Equanimity is a peace of mind and abiding calmness that cannot be shaken by any grade of unfortunate circumstance. We develop equanimity, by remaining calm and balanced while sensations, both pleasant and unpleasant arise and pass away on our body. We simply observe the sensations and see them come and go. This is what we are learning to do in Inner Body. By becoming more sensitive to the bodies' most subtle sensations, we are training our mind to be aware of them, and the technique teaches us how not to react to them. For example when you sit for long stretches of time in meditation, you may feel pain in your legs, on your lower back, in your seat region, or any combination. You can learn to simply observe these unpleasant experiences with an equanimous mind. We can learn to see them as they are, as impermanent phenomenon, happening on the body. If we realize that all sensations are impermanent and see them come and go we can choose not to react. Everything is constantly changing, and so are the bodies' sensations. Although they may seem very permanent while they are happening, they are not. Nothing lasts forever. So there's no point in reacting to sensations of pain if you know they are not permanent. We will discuss this in greater detail during the Inner Body programs. Inner Body will teach you to explore and experience your impermanence. And this will ultimately liberate your mind from its reactive habit patterns allowing you to live a peaceful, happy, harmonious and inspired life totally free from all misery.
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