In the practice, there is a lot of emphasis on coming into the body: being aware of your body, feeling it more fully. Can you get your breathing? Can the breathing become long, complete, involuntary, pleasant, so you’re not struggling around it? Can you tune into that? Now, you might take these instructions to mean ‘hurry up and get mindful of the breathing, hold it together, focus intensely on it.’ But what does that kind of signal do? Probably nothing good for you.
I didn’t give you a lot of instructions about how to enter into the body domain. You may think that’s a bit vague, but it’s actually compassionate. The bodily field is your home base. Notice what occurs as you’re entering into it. Perhaps there are a lot of discordant experiences. Some can be put down to physical pain or discomfort, but also other things like feeling really tired, sleepy or woozy. All sorts of strange emotions, memories and perceptions can come up and they become very fluid.
As you’re entering into the bodily field you’re also becoming more aware of emotions like fear, worry, nervousness and sadness. Where did they come from? I haven’t said to you, ‘Feel your emotions’ and yet that’s what happens because as you are sitting and entering your bodily field, you are starting to melt a little from the impacted, compacted, functional state, which tends to be much harder-edged, into something softer: the water element.
In that melting, the body starts to release experiences that we feel as emotions or as felt experiences, like feeling sleepy or dull. Our emotions tend to be the register of experiences we can most easily classify – for example as ‘sad’, ‘nervous’ or ‘tense’. They are attuned to the auditory experience and have strong signals of happiness, rage, threat and so on.
When you’re entering the bodily sense there’s a much wider range of felt senses than the normal range of what we call emotion. How am I feeling? Slightly groggy, spacey, stuck, sticky, gluey, spinning?
This is the result of beginning to melt.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, The Most Precious Gift, (pdf) pp. 355-356.