A Mitta on this site gave me an understanding of feeling that I found helpful. Previously, I believed feeling was mainly about the emotions. I believed the practice of the ‘mindfulness of feeling’ was about attending to our emotions.
I believed sensations were the feelings we have through the body and emotions are part of our mental world. I believed that physical feelings were of-the-body so they were included in the first foundation of mindfulness.
The Mitta said: what is important in the mindfulness of ‘feeling’ is the hedonic tone.
Various feelings come and go and some are pleasant and some are unpleasant, some are neither pleasant or unpleasant.
Awareness of the tone of the feelings is important - whether they are physical or emotional - because it is this tone that can be the basis for the next link in the chain of dependent origination.
If it’s a pleasant feeling we may delight in the feeling and attach to it and, vice versa. We may feel sad or a bit flat when the pleasant passes and, vice versa.
If something completely unexpected and unwelcome happens in our life we may argue with the thoughts and feelings that arise and amplify the suffering.
We don’t come out of the difficulties and uncontrollable nature of existence through denial, suppression or, wishful thinking. If something ‘unexpected’ happens we should actually expect it. This can help us to stop an argument with life before it happens.
We may make the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of the unpleasant - in every shape and form - the rationale of our existence. This is unskilful if we aspire to see things clearly and wake up to the way it is.
It’s only through clear knowledge and vision, unconditional love and compassion that we can unknot the knot. The Buddha taught two things: suffering and the hearts sure release.
Anything that moves us towards this freedom - the released is the Dhamma. If it’s wholesome and beneficial, know that and be sure of that. You can test it through living in accord with it - see what happens.
If your discovery is the Dhamma it will be your own heart-treasure. If anyone - even the Buddha - were to say this is a mistake, it’s better that you be true to your own knowledge and vision.
If you are sincere and honest in your inquiry you will learn as you go along. It’s OK making mistakes it’s natural and unavoidable. That’s how we learn - isn’t it?
Nobody else can set you free by any technique, formula or blessing.
There’s no need for a set step-by-step formula for practice - it doesn’t work that way. How can we learn from our open minded inquiry if we are just following a formula, conforming blindly to a routine. If somebody has given you this impression and, said you just need to follow their instructions then, that’s unfortunate.
The Sutta on the four foundations of mindfulness (available on this site) might be of value to you in your journey of discovery. In that text it widens the practice beyond feelings and sensations and their hedonic tone. The Buddha did not focus on the feeling-khanda exclusively in his teachings or his methods of training.
It’s good to learn a lot about what the Buddha taught. These teachings are contained in the EBT’s - the earliest texts - and they are available on this site. Then, you can compare what Goenkaji and other teachers have shared with others and ‘find out’ if what they teach is consistent with the insights and methods taught by the Buddha.
It’s best not to follow blindly. The Buddha was a good-friend. When we relate to friends we help each other. We don’t dictate terms and conditions to our friends in the Dhamma.
A good friend who is wise and kind may be able to help us see the Dhamma more clearly. We always know when we are in good company. Know and trust your own good heart - you are bound to be successful. Start again with a kind and clear mind.