Introduction to Week 2

Running Time: 2:01

This week is all about exploring our habitual reactions to vedana, or the hedonic-tone of sensations. It’s also about gaining both an intellectual and experiential understanding of the true nature of suffering.

In this week, I’ll be guiding you through a couple of exercises that will allow you to get a really good look at hedonic tone and your habitual reactions to it. And I want to stress that, at this stage of the program, that’s all I want you to do: mindfully observe. Your goal for week 2 should be to get as familiar as possible with vedana and the process by which our reactions to it leads to suffering. This will put you in a great position for week 3 where we start to apply this experiential understanding in your meditation practice and your daily life.

A warning about this topic. If you consider yourself to be someone who is largely in control of your life and the choices you make, or if you consider yourself to be largely guided by rational decision making (as I once did), then you may be in for a bit of a surprise when you see, first hand, just how much your opinions, preferences, views about the world and reactions to events are based on a knee-jerk reaction to pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, and how little you are actually “in control”. And, because of this, week 2 can feel a bit heavy sometimes. But don’t worry. There is a way to go beyond this knee-jerk reaction. It just takes a bit of work. : ) And that work starts with the material in this week.

In the videos for week 2, I’m going to describe, in some detail, the process by which you form your likes and dislikes, and in large part, even your sense of identity. This is something that normally occurs under the radar of your awareness and your job this week is to see if you can observe this process during your meditation and daily life practice. As is always the case with this kind of stuff, it’s the experiential understanding, your first hand observation of this process at work, that leads to change, rather than a cognitive understanding. So, don’t be content with just an intellectual understanding. Try to see it in action in your own mind.