Martine outlines the journey we'll be taking in this six-part program.

Welcome to Knowing How It Feels: Creatively Engaging with Habits

What's the secret to changing our habits for the better? The Buddha taught meditators to be mindful of "feeling tones." Now, the latest neuroscience research is discovering that these sensations of pleasantness, unpleasantness, and neutrality play a huge role in conditioning our habitual reactions. Join Martine Batchelor for a six-week online course in which we will develop mindfulness of feeling tones and open up the space and freedom to creatively engage with our lives.

Why do we binge on ice cream when we want to eat healthily? Why do we check social media when we want to be present for our loved ones? Habits are powerful, they shape our lives in so many ways. And it can seem so difficult to resist patterns that we have built up over the course of a lifetime. But there is a way. Mindfulness of feeling tone is often described as a pivotal factor in how our experience unfolds. It plays a key role in the Buddha's four foundations of mindfulness and the cycle of dependent origination. What a difference it makes to pause, know what we are feeling, and make a decision that's aligned with our values.

Martine Batchelor has investigated this area in great depth. In this six-week online course, Martine will explain exactly what is meant by this mysterious term, "feeling tone." She will show us how meditation works, and how we can become more aware in situations that trigger habitual reactions. We will learn to let go of unwanted reactions, and establish a calm decisiveness informed by mindfulness. And, crucially, Martine will relate all of this to real world, real life situations. Because this is where mindfulness has to work for us: in our relationships, in our workplace, when we engage with social media, and informing our ethical decisions as we live a socially engaged, creative life.

Key benefits

  • Handle stress more skillfully and become less reactive.
  • Experience more emotional resilience and avoid sinking into difficult mind states.
  • Get creative about crafting better habits and letting go of harmful patterns.
  • Bring mindfulness into the heart of everyday life.

Course Curriculum

The course is available now. You are invited to study at your own pace and will retain access to the course for as long as you need. Each lesson will offer 45-60 minutes of video teachings. There will be talks, guided meditations, contemplative exercises, and more. Additionally, Martine will suggest themes to explore in your day-to-day life, and a program of meditation to deepen your understanding. 

Unit 1 | Knowing How It Feels: Understanding Feeling Tone

What exactly do we mean by feeling tone? Why is it so important? Martine unpacks this pivotal yet often misunderstood aspect of Buddhist practice using real-life examples. The term in the language of the early Buddhist texts is vedana. This is best defined as the tonality we experience upon contact through the six senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, and mind). It can be experienced as pleasant, unpleasant, or neither of these. We'll find out what this means in practice.

Unit 2 | How Does Meditation Work?

What are the principles of mindfulness meditation, and how do they relate to feeling tone? At every moment we are being bombarded with sensory contact. We might hear birdsong as pleasant, the sound of a car engine as unpleasant, and the sight of wallpaper as indifferent. Ordinarily, these sense impressions have free rein. We're not really aware of them until something produces a stronger reaction in us. We really want it, or we really don't want it. How can we bring mindfulness into our everyday experience so that we're catching more and more of these feeling tones at the root level of the sense bases? And if we find ourselves agitated, for example, perhaps we can trace our agitation back to an unpleasant thought and so return to awareness and a capacity to choose how we react.

Unit 3 | What Happens After Sense Contact?

Feeling tone inevitably arises whenever make contact with an object through the senses. We may experience that contact as pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. Depending on the nature and intensity of this feeling tone, a sensation arises which then can become an emotion. Often, we are too late in becoming aware of this process and only realize what's happening when an intense, possibly disturbing emotion arises. By this time, it can be difficult to choose how we react to a situation—we are in the realm of habit and conditioning. Fortunately, by bringing mindfulness to sensory contact and feeling tone, we can lower the intensity of our reactive emotions. 

Unit 4 | Letting Go in Four Stages

We are now becoming more intimate with feeling tones—their duration, intensity, character—and the dynamic processes that arise from them. We may have a growing sense of the impermanence of feeling tones, even in those moments in which they previously seemed so solid and durable. We find a new capacity for letting go, for letting feeling tones be, letting them pass. When we're not struggling against or running with our sensory experience we find a calmness and assuredness we can rely on. This can bring a great sense of liberation from our automatic, repetitive habits.

Unit 5 | Exploring the 108 Feeling Tones

The Buddha enumerated 108 feeling tones. We'll look at the many different aspects of vedana and how it can manifest in our lives. The aim is to establish a rich and creative meditative life by understanding of the tapestry of feeling tones we can experience in each moment. Not only do we benefit from this, but those who we come into contact with do too.

Unit 6 | Ethics, the Internet, Relationships, and Work 

Mindfulness of feeling tone is intimately connected to the ethical choices that we make. Martine will also show how apps such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on are based on how they make us feel. How we react to what we see on social media is determined by feeling tone. As these methods of communication are so ubiquitous, Martine will pay special attention to helping you engage more creatively with social media. Mindfulness of feeling tone is a liberating practice for ourselves as individuals, and this will inevitably have a positive transformative effect on our relationship to others and the world around us.

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