EXPERIENCING

August 31, 2014
This issue is now obsolete. For latest references please see: KHTK Mindfulness. The specific reference that updates this issue is Mindfulness 7: Experience fully.

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EXPERIENCING is looking at the feelings, emotions, sensations and efforts arising in the mind and felt in the body. The KHTK approach is to experience such flows without resisting.

THEORY

Feelings, emotions, sensations, efforts etc., are flows that outpour or discharge. Here are some examples of these flows:

  1. Feelings: confusion, love, disgust, etc.

  2. Emotions: grief, fear, anger etc.

  3. Sensations: tingling, dizziness, hot and cold, etc.

  4. Efforts: mental effort to do, or not do, something.

One “looks” at such flows by experiencing them. This lets them outpour and discharge. To experience a flow, simply stay with it without avoiding it, resisting it, or suppressing it back. Dive right into the very center of it and feel it without adding anything. As you stay with it, the uncomfortable intensity of the flow would lessen and eventually disappear.

The key idea is:

SIMPLY EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THERE WITHOUT AVOIDING, RESISTING OR SUPPRESSING IT BACK.

Flows can be positive, such as, love, enthusiasm and well-beingness. Flows can also be negative, such as, guilt, fear and pain. Such flows arise in response to stimuli in the environment. Usually one finds it easier to experience positive rather than negative flows. But, when such flows come up by themselves in response to stimuli in the environment, then they are safe to experience.

ON ITS OWN THE MIND WILL NEVER BRING UP SOMETHING TO EXPERIENCE THAT IS OVERWHELMING OR HARMFUL.

Experiencing is a deeper form of looking. One may encounter uncontrolled thinking in the mind. But, it starts to abate with the practice of experiencing. It is through the process of gradual experiencing that the inconsistencies and uncomfortable flows start to dissolve.

 

APPLICATION

In the absence of a guide these exercises may be done by oneself. The guide may help the student as follows.

(A) Go over the theory section with the student.

  1. Answer any questions as best as you can.
  2. Discuss the theory materials until no questions remain.
  3. Make sure the student understand the main points highlighted in bold in theory section.

(B) Have the student do the exercises in sequence.

  1. Guide the student through the exercises.
  2. Maintain an open and friendly communication about student’s experience on the exercise

 

EXERCISES

THE PURPOSE OF THESE EXERCISES IS TO INTRODUCE EXPERIENCING AS A DEEPER FORM OF LOOKING, AND AS AN ACTIVITY THAT MAY DISSOLVE INCONSISTENCIES AND UNCOMFORTABLE FLOWS.

Exercise 1

Move around the house leisurely, and look at various objects, touching and feeling them. Experience any feelings, emotions, sensations, efforts, etc., that come up, fully without resisting.

 

Exercise 2

Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Look and notice things. Experience any feelings, emotions, sensations, efforts, etc., that come up, fully without resisting. 

Exercise 3

Go to a coffee shop, sit there and observe the surroundings and other people. Experience whatever feelings come up until you no longer are avoiding, resisting or suppressing anything from yourself. 

Exercise 4

Look at your family album or any old pictures that you may have kept.  As feelings and emotions come up, experience them fully without avoiding, resisting or suppressing them. 

Exercise 5

FIND SOMETHING IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN AVOIDING TO LOOK AT.

Observe the feelings or emotions that appear as you start to face it. Experience the feelings and emotions without resisting or suppressing them.

Exercise 6

Look at each of the following affects, and experience any instances or related incidents that come up in the mind, applying the principles of looking.

Positive:

  • Enjoyment/Joy – smiling, lips wide and out

  • Interest/Excitement – eyebrows down, eyes tracking, eyes looking, closer listening

Neutral:

  • Surprise/Startle – eyebrows up, eyes blinking

Negative:

  • Anger/Rage – frowning, a clenched jaw, a red face

  • Disgust – the lower lip raised and protruded, head forward and down

  • Dissmell (reaction to bad smell) – upper lip raised, head pulled back

  • Distress/Anguish – crying, rhythmic sobbing, arched eyebrows, mouth lowered

  • Fear/Terror – a frozen stare, a pale face, coldness, sweat, erect hair

  • Shame/Humiliation – eyes lowered, the head down and averted, blushing

 

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Comments

  • Bunkai  On May 18, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    K. Right off I noticed something. Your separations of feelings from emotions in a-d are scientifically incorrect according to Silvan Tomkins’ Affect Theory.

    Use the mighty google to know more of Affect Theory.

    Affects are the Scientific versions of the “tones” you are familiar with. There are nine affects based on the facial reactions of babies. Many of them are in a and b as a separate concepts when according to this theory, they are part of the same set.

    Enjoyment
    Interest (Love is considered the highest level of interest Conservative viewing the lowest)
    Surprise (the opposite of “boredom” on a scale between boredom and surprise)
    Anger-Rage
    Disgust
    Dissmell (like smelling rotted eggs or finding something emotionally disgusting)
    Fear
    Distress (pain, grief, sadness)
    Shame

    So if you like this theory, you may want to realign a-d.

    • vinaire  On May 18, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Thare is some food for thought here. Let me get back to this later. In the mean time, you may categorize (a) to (d) the way it appears most natural to you.

      ~Vinaire

    • vinaire  On May 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      My thoughts are that how one separates feelings from emotions is not significant from the perspective of looking because one deals with both feelings and emotions as flows.

      How one experiences these flows without resisting them is definitely significant. How one labels these flows is not.

      .

  • Bunkai  On June 5, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Yeah, I get that. You may want to read up on Tomkins’ work though. It really makes sense. He was a materialist, but his divisions are pretty accurate and useful.

    Lesson three was enjoyable and helped me strengthen my skill to be independent of my emotions and experiences while they occur. All the time I did it, I seemed to have a better awareness of that ability through my week.

    FYI: There are typically four positions in Zen practice: Zazen (sitting), Juzen (standing), Gozen (walking or acting) and Gazen (repose.)

    These exercises are in line with Juzen and Gozen practices. Such an instruction is hard to find in most places since most traditions do most of the work while sitting. This lesson works in the other postures, and that is refreshing.

  • vinaire  On June 5, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    Thank you, Bunkai. I am glad you enjoyed these exercises, and that they were helpful. I have something similar to those Zen exercises in KHTK 9: KHTK EXERCISE SET II. Maybe after you have completed all the exercises, you and I can re-write and rearrange them in the best possible way.

    By the way, I did rewrite KHTK 2 after your comments got me looking deeper.

    ~Vinaire

  • vinaire  On June 16, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    Alright, I read about Silvan Tomkins and his Affect Theory form Wikipedia.

    My understanding is as follows:
    (1) Affects seem to be psycho-physical reactions to what is observed.
    (2) The theory presumes that knowingly observing such affects can improve mental health.
    (3) The theory also presumes that expressing such observation to one another may improve relationships.
    (4) The theory offers affects to be used as diagnostic tools to understand an individuals’ psychological problems better.

    Since looking is totally non-judgmental, affects as diagnostic tools won’t be applicable.

    As far as looking at “affects for what they are” goes, that will fit quite nicely under the general scheme of looking. So, if one wants to do that, then it is perfectly all right.

    .

    • Anonymous  On July 6, 2011 at 9:39 PM

      FYI: Tomkins thinks that AFFECT precedes THOUGHT.

      From a Spiritualist Perspective: The Being creates the body/mind affect which creates the thought.

      From a Materialist Perspective: The body/mind responds with an affect which then creates a thought.

      • vinaire  On July 6, 2011 at 10:26 PM

        Affect appears to be some kind of genetic programming. It seems to interact with the sensory input to create perception. Perception then results in experience.

        Can affect, sensory input, perception, experience, etc. be different forms of thought?

        .

  • vinaire  On June 18, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Since this essay EXPERIENCING further explains what Looking is, I am moving it to KHTK 2 slot. Also, some portions have been revised for the purpose of greater clarity.

    Next in sequence would be what is being looked at (perceptions).

    .

  • vinaire  On July 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    The revision today is made up of some cosmetic changes only.

    ~Vinaire

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