This morning I was listening to a dharma talk on the Bhuddist teaching that any experience can be broken down into three basic categories – pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.
It is a very useful meditation practice to be mindful of moment to moment experience and to classify (label or name) each experience according to these basic categories. For example “noticing myself thinking about breakfast – pleasant” or “noticing a twitch in my big toe – neutral” or “remembering the harsh way I spoke to friend – unpleasant” and so on.
For Phoenix Rising Practitioners, I think this practice is most useful in learning and teaching around the theme of discernment. It is in fact the basis of discernment.
Furthermore, catching ones response to a sensory stimulus before responding by taking the time to categorize it offers a way to create that coveted “space” between stimulus and response that Viktor Frankl refers to in this great quote:
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
After listening to the dharma talk and meditating myself for a time with the practice, I had the urge to take this practice to my yoga mat and embody it.
I began with my breath. I focused on noticing pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral. I just noticed. No urges to change or shift as a result of the noticing yet at the same time allowing shifts to organically occur.
Then I shifted focus to my body and began engaging a few postures. In a side bend I sought out my edge but in a way I hadn’t done before. I looked for the “neutral” place – neither pleasant, nor unpleasant. That in turn triggered further awareness that I gave categories to. The mini-integration that followed gave me new direction based on “finding neutral” in other areas in life and how that might sometimes serve me. A great lesson in discernment from a slight variation on embodied mindfulness. Try it and tell me what happens for you.