The Feeling Tone: Exploring Mindfulness Frame by Frame
October 27, 2023 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm UTC+0
Evidence from hundreds of clinical trials confirms that mindfulness training is effective in reducing the distress of many physical and psychological challenges. However, those same clinical trials show that not everyone is helped as much as they could be in a single eight-week program. This is hardly surprising. Eight weeks go past very fast and building a habit of regular practice can be really hard in that short time. And even if we have established a regular practice, our lives continue to bring new traumas and pains, disruption and grief, and everyday tasks can also continue to bring their own stress and exhaustion.
So we are often asked, by participants who have completed an 8-week course: “Is there anything more I can do to deepen and sustain my practice?” The Feeling Tone program is an eight-week course designed to meet this need – a follow-on course for those who are familiar with mindfulness, and who wish to sustain and deepen their practice*.
Feeling tone – also known in the Buddhist traditions as vedana (the second foundation of mindfulness) is present in eight-week courses such as MBSR and MBCT but it is mostly in the background: None of the meditation practices we learn in those eight weeks focuses directly on it.
Yet recent developments in psychological science have awakened interest in such affective tone: Every waking moment, our understanding of the world is dominated by imagining how we can take action within it. These perceptions and plans are coloured by feeling tone: the moment-by-moment ‘read-out’ of how much any sensation, thought, impulse or emotion feels pleasant, unpleasant, or neither. Based on this moment-by-moment ‘read out’, the body allocates its resources as it gears up for real or imagined action. This can prepare us well for action, but it can also put us at risk of becoming exhausted without realizing it.