HOW CAN WE TELL WHICH FEELINGS are important and asking us to notice and nurture them? They are often stronger emotions stirred up by daily events that stand out from the crowd of everyday feelings. We become angry, feel lonely, sad, excited, or challenged. Something strikes us out of the blue and we react.
But there can also be quieter “background” feelings that are equally important. These hang around on the periphery of our awareness–like always feeling put-down, not as good, pretty, or athletic as someone else. Sometimes there is chronic worrying about our health, our future, or over some past experience. Perhaps it’s a vague longing that comes and goes, but always returns again and again.
Important feelings interrupt the flow of daily living. They either demand immediate attention like a siren breaking into our awareness, or they’re a chronic gnawing in the background, like a scratching at the door or a vague sense of something needing to happen or about to unfold. Whether such feelings are strong or weak, positive or negative, there is some further story waiting to unfold inside them. This is more than a random itch needing to be scratched. Important feelings contain a summons, some further call, invitation, or unanswered need that seeks your response.
THESE KINDS OF FEELINGS have a link button flashing inside them. Let’s begin by trying to understand where you can look for such felt sensing links within yourself.
2. The Pathway Inward
HAVE YOU EVER STROLLED through an art gallery, wandering among the exhibits and paintings, when suddenly your attention was riveted by a particular piece. Something stirs within you. The sculpture or painting calls out in ways unlike any other artwork in the room.
Most of us imagine that beauty is somehow “out there” in the picture, and we are simply responding to it. Yet, you might also note that other viewers in the gallery walk past this same artwork with hardly a glance, or perhaps some vacant, familiar expression you may already have felt yourself when looking at other pieces. Not without reason do we say: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
This experience represents a marvelous place to begin looking into your own capacity for noticing certain feelings that seem to have some further story, or special meaning in them. This is a world within awareness that is alive with your own personal and unique body links.
Objective beauty is never only out there in the painting. It’s real power lies within your bodily-felt experience of “connecting” with the painting. Such experience actually tells you more about yourself than it does about what the picture represents.
Your inside felt connecting is what thrills, repels, intrigues, excites or frightens, and has the potential to draw you forward on a larger inner journey. The artwork is but a catalyst, a spark that ignites the possibility of some further evolving inside yourself. Your body celebrates and proclaims that something is happening INSIDE YOU!
SO WHAT IS THIS “EDGE” of bodily-felt knowing that you look for when going inside? Where do you direct your attention? What do you try to notice and nurture within your inner experience?
Usually, what first gets you started is some strong, or at least noticeable feeling, emotion, or physical sensation that draws your attention inward. It lets you know that a body link has been activated. Some inner light goes on, a siren blares, a buzzer sounds. Yet, that’s only the beginning, an initial attention-getter.
The telephone ringing doesn’t mean you know who or what is on the other end of the line. Feelings, emotions, and physical sensations are like the buzzer sounding. You must still open the door or lift the receiver.
The way to a felt sense lies “INTO AND THROUGH” your feelings, emotions, and physical sensations, not away from them. They represent the tip of the iceberg, the door, the pathway inward. That initial felt surge in your body signals the awareness of an active felt connection. A link is established. But there is still more. Often much more!
So, the beginning point in felt sensing is deliberately to “notice” your bodily feeling response to something–perhaps a painting, or anything—a tree blossoming near your home, someone who makes you angry or sad, perhaps your inner delight at hearing some familiar piece of music. The first step is simply to stop and just notice how your body is “in” the music, “in” the relationship, “in” the fear or anger. . . . . and nothing more.
Just notice and remain actively linked with the inner sense of: “. . . .whatever comes inside my body as I quietly attend to my felt connection to this scene before me, this person, this memory, or some situation.” Be specific in your noticing, if you can. Ask yourself: “Where in my body am I most carrying the feeling of this relationship, this memory, this fear, this excitement?”
This is how you begin to learn the language of your body. You already know the language of your mind thinking. What most people don’t yet recognize is the inner language of their body linking!