#500. Unhappiness Is Not a Life Sentence | Christina Feldman

Ten Percent Happier
September 21, 2022
#500. Unhappiness Is Not a Life Sentence | Christina Feldman
Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Is it possible to be happy no matter what happens? Today we’re going right to the source of what makes us unhappy to learn how to disarm and disable potential suffering before it owns us.

Everything that comes up in our mind is either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. In other words, with everything we experience, we either want it, don’t want it, or we don’t care. In Buddhism, this is called “feeling tones” or “vedana” and it is known as the second foundation of mindfulness in the Buddha’s comprehensive list. So why does this matter? Because if you are unaware of the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral tones, then you are being controlled by them. Similarly, if you are unaware that certain people or things provoke aversion, then you can unthinkingly avoid or even be aggressive towards them. In this way, we can be like puppets on a string— just yanked around by greed, hatred, and numbness.

Today’s guest, dharma teacher Christina Feldman, is going to drill down on this embarkation point for our suffering, zap it with mindfulness and help us understand how we don’t have to live like puppets on a string.

Feldman began teaching in the west in the seventies after spending years in Asia studying Buddhist meditation. She is a co-founder of Gaia House, a retreat center in the UK, and has also served as a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Society beginning in its early days. More recently, she is a co-founder of Bodhi College, which is dedicated to the study and practice of the early teachings of the Buddha. She is the author of a book called, Boundless Heart: The Buddha's Path of Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity, and co-author of Mindfulness: Ancient Wisdom Meets Modern Psychology.

This episode is the second installment of a series we've launched on the four foundations of mindfulness.

In this episode we talk about:

  • Why vedana is often called, “the ruler of consciousness” or “the king, or the queen of consciousness”
  • How to practice with vedana, and the benefits thereof
  • Her lovely description of the Buddha as being very focused on understanding “the architecture of distress and unhappiness”
  • Her contention that unhappiness is not a life sentence.
  • Her definition of genuine happiness
  • What she means by the power of “giving greater authority to intentionality, rather than to mood or story”
  • And her personal practice of setting life intentions every year

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