Last time I shared my experiences with using a negative emotion as the object of concentrative meditation. It is a form of meditation recommended by Pema Chödron, a Buddhist nun. She is saying that you can use pretty much any kind of perception as an object of meditation. A thought, a smell, a sound, an image or, as in this case, an emotion.
The meditation on emotion actually consists of two aspects: First, the object is a negative emotion. After finishing this exercise, you choose a positive emotion. Like in the first session the context, the memory – ideally a recent event – that caused the positive emotion is only used to recreate the emotion in the mind. Then the context is being dropped and you are supposed to focus on the plain emotion. Again I set the timer on 20 minutes and focused on my breathing for about 5 minutes. Then I started the exercise.
The difference to the aforementioned negative-emotion-session was very interesting. While I found it very easy to create a pleasant memory together with the nice emotion, I found it relatively hard to drop the context again after the positive emotion had emerged. It seemed like my mind really wanted to cling to the context and keep daydreaming through the details of the past event. But that was not the task, so I had to drop it again. I was really worried I would lose the nice feeling by giving up the context that created it in the first place. Also knowing that there was a time limit to this exercise helped me.
So once I was able to maintain the emotion without remembering the event I noticed that I felt a wonderful relaxation spreading through my body. Even some kind of euphoria and a little torpor. While this was actually quite nice I realized after a couple of minutes that I felt increasing trouble not to fall asleep because the relaxation deepened continuously. But the exercise was – just like in the other session – to analyse the sensations of the emotions in my body. A sense of wideness in my forehead… tingling in my stomach… warmth in my heart area… heaviness in my eyelids…
The timer went off finally and I had a look around the room I was sitting in. Reflecting on these two experiences it struck me how dependent I was on things that happened to me to feel something. While I was sitting here in my room on my cushion feeling this variety of emotions with absolutely nothing particular happening around me I could catch a little glimpse of this sphere called “mind” and put my finger on it. Right now it made absolutely no difference whether those things happened for real or in my mind.
I thought of the instruction given by Pema Chödrön saying “The aim is to gain an experience… ideally, at the end of the exercise you will experience how a little more space has emerged around the feeling.” It felt to me like this space was my own mind sphere. I think I have not even remotely experienced my own mind as an actual thing before. Since there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to plain experiences I decided this was a pretty valuable and useful experience. I am sure I will repeat this exercise and see what more I can learn from it.