How to Quickly Create Concentration & Sensory ClarityBy
This was an email I wrote to a client who was complaining that he wasn’t able to keep his focus on anything – nor was he able to identify physical sensations associated with emotions. He is also quite resistant to sitting down to meditate at all and gets quite frustrated with the whole process because it is not peaceful as he feels it should be and he often abandons it after a few minutes. (He likes to do wine tastings, so you’ll see that I used that analogy below.)
I gave him a labeling exercise where, during driving, he labels OUT LOUD where his attention is within “SIGHT” “SOUND” and “TOUCH” (i.e. the older labels for what is now, in Shinzen’s present Basic Mindfulness system, calling “SEE OUT”, “HEAR OUT” and “FEEL OUT.” The reason I’m using the older labels is that this client originally studied with me when we were using those labels and those are easier for him to use – so with his tendency to get exasperated with the whole process, I wanted to limit the challenges – at least until he has developed some depth of concentration.)
Then, after about 5 minutes of that, he can also start noticing “FEEL” (body sensations that are emotional in nature – currently called “FEEL IN” in Shinzen’s Basic Mindfulness System.) My goal was to use the tangible reality of the world around him to help develop the concentration and then to point some of that concentration to emotional sensations to gain clarity & equanimity with them.
Okay, so, it’s time for you to develop the concentration that will give you the peace you seek. You are actually dropping into peaceful states all day, but the lack of concentration makes it impossible to abide there.
VOCAL LABELS – while driving – can do wonders. And for you, keep it to Touch, Sight, Sound – and only adding “Feel” after a few minutes of just TSS.
And for FEEL, imagine I am continuously throughout the day asking you where you feel things in your body? Every time you smile or enjoy or feel unpleasant emotion – tune into how that manifests as a unique body sensation – without judgment – but with interest.
Yes, there’s a good chance that it will mostly be in the front part of the torso, but the more you look, the more specificity you’ll find – maybe it will be more in the chest or belly – maybe the texture, intensity, boundaries change. Just like tasting wine – the more you do it, the more discrimination – and appreciation – you get.
Every smile, every time you’re thinking of what you don’t like – where do you feel that in the body? Just keep checking it out.
If you do those 2 things, we’ll be able to go quite deeply quite quickly – but you do need to exercise these muscles every day.
I know you can do at least 10 minutes a day of this practice – and probably alot more since I know you have to spend a good deal of time in the car each day – so let’s take advantage of that time to develop the muscles that will create more ease and well-being in your life. Sound like a game plan? This, I know you can do.
I look forward to checking in with you in 2 weeks.