There are habituated patterns that I would like still like to release. As I observe these patterns, I’ve noticed the result is often in the category of numbing out or avoidance. If I overeat, for example, I don’t really know what I’m feeling – I avoid what I’m feeling. This actually leaves a very unsettled and dissatisfied mind.
In the Non-violent communication (NVC) class I’m attending, I have noticed how much I skip over the “investigation” part or the “staying with the feelings” step. My mind just jumps to – how can I fix this. Mental strategizing doesn’t reveal the underlying emotions and doesn’t satisfy the situation emotionally. My mind often cannot “fix” things. This is the delusion of the mind’s control. In NVC, I am learning how to stay with and identify my feelings. After naming my feelings, then I can move to discovering what my feelings are indicated of the underlying universal need. If my feelings are negative that is expressing an unmet need. This investigation slows the whole process of – what is happening right now? – down. It slows me down. That’s a wonderful sign of mindfulness. As I explore feelings and needs, I find that my automatic patterns of addictions, worry, and anxiety, seem to lessen because I’m really addressing what I am needing. I’m really staying with and supporting myself.
This slowing down and exploration of feelings and needs is a good example of the “I” of Investigation in RAIN. The Vipassana teachers often talk about this as curiosity – nonjudgmental curiosity. Slowing down and looking into things – body sensations, emotions, and thoughts. It’s not results oriented as is the attachment to “fixing things”. It’s more awareness oriented – what is actually happening? The word “playful” often comes up in the Vipassana teaching. Can we playfully investigate with curiosity what’s happening now? I like this. It helps my Zen seriousness lighten up.
With playfulness is also the underlying establishment of kindness and self-compassion. If we don’t have a kindness and acceptance of the complicated human predicament, we will never have the courage to investigate. We will distract ourselves with all our mindless activity because facing our feelings seems too harsh. Without kindness, investigation becomes too painful. But with the “A” of acceptance, we can gently go towards are suffering and pull it apart by the noting of what is happening in this moment in our bodies and minds. Our suffering is often the congealed ideas of history, judgments and reactivity which is usually, or always, concocted in our minds. These stories are held on to as if they are our life, MY life, (i.e. over-identified with our stories) and sticks in our body/mind like a heavy clump of mud.
Investigation is one of the seven factors of enlightenment as is Relaxation. As I practice RAIN and NVC, I am telling myself, over and over, “relax, be curious, see what’s happening in the small details of now, trust that in the listening, the “answer” will evolve.” I am learning to trust the process and to let go of my mental idea of the “fix.”