How can we explore how sensations and thoughts combine? Or put another way, how sensations serve as anchors for beliefs?
Maybe the simplest and most effective, and the way I got into it, is through a labeling practice.
When sounds arise, notice and label them “sound”. Stay with this for a while. And then do the same with sights, smell/taste, sensations, and thoughts.
This helps us differentiate each of them, and also see how sensations are combined with thoughts to create the appearance of emotions, moods, and even a sense of a separate self.
When each component is recognized, and they are differentiated from each other in this way, the appearance of an emotion, mood, or even a sense of a separate self, tends to fall away… it falls into its components.
This is how I, in a very convoluted way, started this post… until I remembered the simplicity, and effectiveness, of labeling practice:
I realize that when I write about sensations as anchor for beliefs, it can sound abstract, and there are probably (at least) two reasons for it…
The first is that most people have not explored it that way, or investigated it.
And the second, which is as important, is that the phenomenon itself is not all that clear to me yet either, and I also do not have much experience in expressing it in words.
So how can we go about exploring it? For me, it seems to happen on its own much of the time (especially just after I wake up in the morning), but there are also times where I explore it more intentionally.
Here are some pointers that may be of help…
- Notice, and select, an emotion or mood that is alive here/now
- Notice where in space (specifically, in the body) this emotion/mood seems to be centered, located or originate from
- Notice what sensations appear in that area of space (look especially for areas that seem more dense, more solid, more tight or tense)
- Notice if the emotions/mood seem to be associated with those sensations… if the emotions/mood seem to be anchored there, or based there, or intertwined with the sensations
- Then notice the pure sensations there, differentiated from the emotion/mood… how are they different, similar? Stay with this for a while.
- Notice how a story is added onto those sensations, creating the appearance of emotions/mood. (This is easier if we are familiar with exploring beliefs, through for instance The Work.)
- And, if this happens spontaneously, notice how the differentiation of the sensation and the story allows the appearance of the emotions/mood to fall away (or to fall into its components)
To shorten it up:
- Pick a current emotion/mood
- Locate it in the body
- Identify the sensation it is associated with, and stay with the pure sensation
- Notice how a story is added to the sensation to give the appearance of an emotion/mood
I am sure it can be expressed even simpler than this. I also see how a familiarity with exploring beliefs, through for instance The Work, and a labeling practice (differentiating sight, sound, smell/taste, sensations and thoughts) can be very helpful here.