“How do you feel?” If you have ever worked with me privately or in classes, you will hear me ask this hundreds of times. “How do you feel?” Most of the time, people will respond with “Good” “Bad” “Better”. Yet, those are judgments, as if sad is bad and happy is better. What if that is not true? What if it IS just what it IS?
A more interesting examination instead, is to explore the question “how do we feel” and then, continuing on, asking it further “and what does that feeling feel like”? How does a feeling of shame or worry or confident feel on you, in you? Can you go into that feeling curiously and describe it, embrace it even, until it washes away into the next feeling? Can you ride this pattern without getting swept away by it?
For example, this morning I woke up feeling slightly agitated which is not usual for me. So, in my meditation this morning, I asked myself, “Okay, agitation, what do you feel like?” Then I spent time really feeling it. It feels like… an unfocused mind…a restless body.
Then, we can ask ourselves a pondering question like “what are the thoughts I have swirling today that are causing this feeling”? For me, “I need to shovel out the car again because today is another cold one.” “I have to finish up my taxes today and get this off my plate.” In other words, today tasks feel like the opposite of fun and because I am entertaining those thoughts of things that are irritating to me I keep finding more and more evidence to confirm all the reasons I have to feel agitated. That, to me, is mindfulness. Just being aware by stepping out of the pattern.
The other option, and the one I am focusing my life on, is to live deliberately. In this, we can ask ourselves “what would I rather feel right now instead of agitated?” Confident that I can take care of what I need to take care of? Joy that I can stand outside in sub human temperatures and scrape ice off of my car that I am so grateful to have? (Uh, joy is uh, yeah, might be a little tricky today as joy causes me to smile and smiling in sub zero temps will make my teeth freeze, my head hurt and my lips crack and peel. Yeah, so I’m leaning more towards feeling content. Ha.)
The point is: we are not at the mercy of our mind. We actually think the thoughts that create the feelings and we can choose the thoughts that feel best. In other words, we can live deliberately.
So, today the thoughts I am choosing are “My Friday yoga class is my favorite class to teach.” “I get to have coffee with one of my favorite people in the world.” “My family is happy and healthy and I love them so very much.” Those thoughts make me feel lucky, fortunate and happy. That is not to say that sad is bad and happy is better. All feelings are worthy and sometimes sad is best but not for me today. Today I choose joy. A smileless one perhaps, but feeling joy just the same.
How about you?