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This week we continued our theme of going deeper in meditation and to truly ‘meditate with and in the body’; learning to find out ‘what is actually happening’ as opposed to what we may just think is happening due to habit or custom.
Nandavajra introduced us to the term ‘vedana’ - an interesting and useful concept in Buddhism. Sometimes translated as ‘feeling’; a more accurate term is ‘sensation’, or as it sometimes referred to as the ‘initial hedonic feeling tone’ - that is, the simple sensations which we experience as pleasant, unpleasant (or too subtle to be either and more ‘neutral’). What then happens is that we typically have an immediate but purely habitual reaction or aversion (anger, worry, fear) or craving (wanting more, fear of losing it, …).
But learning to be aware of just the simple plain experience as it is, without adding our habitual reactions or ‘stories’, allows us to make more creative choices. As a result we experience a degree of freedom: we stop being tossed around by the circumstance of our life and start feeling more that we are free to make a creative response, which is a such relief…
So if we can learn to get to know our actual experience as it arises and let go of our habitual, often unconscious responses …. then we can have a choice how we respond and rest in a more open and fluid awareness that is free of aversion, craving and confusion; and that is beginning of freedom - a very helpful skill to learn. This is also the key skill to learn in what is called ‘mindfulness’.
Here is a 20 minute guided vedana meditation led by Vidyamala - she is the founder of the pioneering Breathworks mindfulness community helping people around the world with chronic pain and stress and offering training in this field.