Exercise 5-8: Feelings
(5-6): Joy and Happiness
Exercise 5-6 (generating joy and happiness) occurs automatically at the same time when we establish ourselves in mindfulness in Exercise 1-2. So, in time series, Exercise 5-6 should be placed as Exercise 3-4 rather than Exercise 5-6. However, joy and happiness belongs to the category of feelings, so I guess that these exercises was placed as Exercise 5-6. Anyway, if mindful breathing is attained in Exercise 1-2, that is a proof that we have returned to awareness (non-separate self, true self). So, we can touch the wonders of life, and joy and happiness can be automatically generated. The expressions of our realization of joy and happiness may be "just blooming like a flower without thinking". If a flower is replaced with a human being, it may be "just smiling without thinking".
Even if you try to concentrate on your breathing, if you have fear and anxiety and can't stop thinking (if you are wandering in the past or the future and can't return to the present moment), unfortunately you are still ego (separate self, fake self) and can't generate joy and happiness. Therefore, those who can't generate joy and happiness by Exercise 1-2, will have no chance to recognize, embrace, relieve the pain and suffering even if they go ahead, because they have no energy of mindfulness. So, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that we should keep conscious breathing or walking without going ahead until we return to awareness (non-separate self, true self), or until we can practice mindful breathing and walking. In this sense, we can say that Exercise 5-6 is a mean to check whether or not we are practicing Right Mindfulness by ourselves.
(7-8): Painful feelings
Exercise 5-6 are exercises to recognize and keep positive feelings, while Exercise 7-8 are exercises to recognize and calm negative feelings (painful feelings). If the whole body in Exercise 3-4 is replaced with painful feelings, what we are supposed to do in Exercise 5-6 is exactly the same as Exercise 3-4. By the energy of mindfulness, we recognize our painful feeling, embrace it and calm it by releasing the tension in the feelings.
When we recognize our feelings, we are witnessing or observing our feelings. Therefore, we are not the feelings. Our true self is awareness (awakened consciousness) who is witnessing our feelings. So, we don't have to be overwhelmed even by our strong emotions like despair. If we just keep observing it, it will disappear in time. Feelings are impermanent (always changing) and are like a temporary storm, so should not panic and react right away.
(to be continued)