What am I experiencing? *
What’s underneath this observation?
Stay with it. Keep feeling.
These are basic questions and prompts that I’ve employed for many years. Their genesis was in my late teens when I became interested in progressive relaxation. Later on, Vipassana meditation introduced me to the idea of subtler layers. In the depths of depression, when I could do no more than wait to see if an inhalation would arise… and then wait and see if an exhalation would happen, chunks of identity and taking things personally were chiselled and carved away.
I lean on the teachings of others. However, in the end I have to experience for myself (to which family, and a few long-time friends, may laugh, having had to endure my stubbornness). I stuffed everything inside for decades, using aggression to hold it in. Headstrong and unaware I made (and make) plenty of mistakes, sometimes hurting others, and always hurting myself. Fortunately, my journey is driven by curiosity. Actually, it’s more akin to a troublesome itch, to which I can’t quite find the source.
I’ve learned that the only way to hear the nagging thoughts, or even to recognise my own emotions, is to delve into kinaesthesia (sense of body movement, or sensations within the body). Perhaps the greatest gift Grace has provided me is awareness of this underlying inquisitiveness. Life has demonstrated time and again that the best, if not only, solution is to just feel.
What is the sensation in the body? At times, I have to ask the question before I even realise that there is something to sense.
To be honest, I regularly feel like I’m stumbling through life in a constant state of mitigating blindness, followed by a perpetual reflection on this ostensible truth.
What I do know for certain is that I maintain patterns–healthy or unhealthy–until I suddenly realise there’s no more interest in them. I sow seeds that will hopefully provide nourishment and shade later on. And I keep evaluating, trusting and persisting in process, and listening–to others, to myself, and to the movement of Life.
* Non-dualistic phrasing: “What’s the current experience that’s happening?”