I woke up this morning, later than I’d like to, still sleepy but ready to sit before breakfast. Sitting I’m aware of thoughts in the mind and sensations in the body. “What else is there?” the mind wants to know. What can’t be put down to thoughts or sensations but is more the flavour of experience in that moment? Often the physical sensations are familiar and also similar, pulling, pushing, tightening, opening. In the chest area or stomach, fizzing elsewhere in the legs or head.
I’m aware of a level of interpretation through the thoughts, of a co-creation between various aspects of experience. The ‘extra’ could be called ‘mood’. Sometimes I’ll ask “what’s the mood in the mind?”. Not so much looking for an answer but just feeling into what’s there. Giving it some space and attention.
Often the feeling or mood feels very familiar too and, if I become aware of it, I can recognise the difference between it and the quality of the awareness. Awareness with the flavour of interest and impartiality, without agenda can become aware of other quite subtle mind states. I find ‘mood’ particularly interesting because it can feel so ‘normal’ and can hide a strengthening sense of self in the moments when its not recognised for what it is. ‘Sense of self’ tends to grow around klesha or afflicted mind states through identification with them.
I call ‘mood’ the wallpaper of the mind because it’s like a room in your home; you walk into it and no longer notice the colour or patterning on the walls or the grubby spots where the backs of chairs have rubbed the colour away further. Perhaps you never really liked it much but didn’t get around to changing it. It doesn’t strongly impinge and so it goes unnoticed but actually there can be a lot of potential in becoming more aware of it.
One familiar mood I started noticing regularly a while back was what I called my ‘burdened’ feeling. Initially it was just a feeling that was mildly unpleasant and I recognised that it was probably around a lot as it felt so habitual. Over time I learned more about it as I got interested and awareness kicked in.
It was a background, low level mood with a subliminal story of things being hard work, a struggle and not very enjoyable. The mood would obviously affect how I related to all sorts of ‘objects’ – from the tasks I needed to perform to the meetings I attended. The burdened feeling was one manifestation of resistance where I felt everything was just too much effort. It sounds a strong feeling when I put it this way but actually it wasn’t, though it still had a powerful effect on my mind.
2 things changed when I became aware of what was happening.
1. It’s hard to remain under the influence of the mood when awareness and curiosity are present. And feeling out something whilst you’re aware feels completely different than when you’re just wrapped up in it and not noticing it. You’re not under its influence so you’re actually free of it while it’s still in the mind.
2. Like a bank of clouds breaking up in the sky, over time, the mood of ‘burden’ appeared less and less frequently.
Of course other moods took its place and for a while the more habitual mind state was low level anxiety and this was observed in the same way. And in-between times there are the blue sky moments when the clouds are not there and awareness can know whatever is happening and know its own radiance.