Catching Contractions at Two Points

I have experimented briefly with the form of insight meditation where we put labels on the various sense categories, such as sensation, smell, taste, sound, sight and thought. Something arises, I put a label on it. Something else arises – another label. And so on. And I may occasionally put the label “thought” on the previous labels just to remind myself about that as well.

Catching the connection between sensation and thought

I see that for me, when a contraction is about to come into existence, there is usually (a) a sound or sight, (b) a following sensation, and (c) a thought – a story about what that sensation means, including in relation to the initial sound or sight.

For instance, I heard a house mate walked downstairs with shoes on, a sensation arose, and the though “irritation” came up. Seeing the sensation as sensation and the thought as thought, the connection between the two dissolved. They were each liberated from each other, and the thought was liberated from being attached to.

If I had attached to the thought “irritation”, the sensation may have intensified and been experienced as uncomfortable. This would most likely have spawned additional thoughts, and soon a whole story would be in place about house mates walking into the house with shoes on and what that means. (“People don’t listen.” “Americans are unsophisticated.” And so on.)

In daily life, it seems that noticing the sensation and the thought placed on top of the sensation allows the connection between the two to dissolve. There is just a sensation, and then a thought, and that is all. They each live their own lives. The story is not attached to and does not unfold into a drama.

Another way to say it is that I catch the story of the connection between the sensation and the interpretation of the sensation, and the apparent connection dissolves there. I see that the story of connection is just a story.

Catching the initial story

Of course, there was also a story there between the initial sounds and the sensation. There was an interpretation of the sound (“house mate walking into the house with shoes on”), and most likely a should along the lines of “people shouldn’t walk into the house with shoes on”.

This is where The Work comes in. Instead of – or in addition to – what is described above, I can catch and inquire into the initial story, the one that (apparently) gave rise to the body sensations and the thoughts that followed.

In this case, the story is “people shouldn’t walk into the house with shoes on”. Exploring this, seeing what is really true for me around that, the attachment to this story may fall away. And when people do walk into the house with shoes, it is OK. I find peace with it. I may even find appreciation for it. And can still ask her to take them off.

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