How do I notice mental vedana?

I can notice craving and aversion, but those arise in dependence upon vedana (as in DO), so they are not vedana. I can notice emotions, but those are sankharas, and not vedana.

The suttas talk a lot about “physical” (bodily) vedana, but less about “mental” vedana, which appears to be the bare affective quality of mental objects.

So what is mental vedana really like, and how do I notice it? How do I isolate it from emotion, craving and aversion, like and dislike, etc?

And on a related note, is mental vedana the second arrow in the Arrow Sutta?SuttaCentral

1 Like

Have you ever experienced a broken love (relationship) as a young person?

1 Like

Yes, but love and hate are emotions, ie sankharas. There might be vedana associated with them, but here I’m talking about vedana as an aspect of “initial experience”, which occurs alongside vinnana and sanna.

If for example I see ice-cream in the supermarket freezer, how do I notice (pleasant) mental vedana before the craving and delight kick in?


Every physical feeling and every emotional feeling (two quite different things anyway) has a content component and a response (vedana) component,
eg "I feel the pressure of a hand on my thigh (content) and it’s pleasant/unpleasant/neutral). We could flesh out the story to account for pleasant (hand of attractive person), unpleasant (hand of creepy person), neutral (hand of attending doctor or nurse), but we can also see that the pressure of the hand of a friend can be received quite differently at different times. That is vendana.

Start looking really hard at emotional reactions and see if you can get them to unravel in similar ways. eg “He’s left so I’m heartbroken” vs “He’s left - what a relief!” vs “Oh, did he go?”.

1 Like

The refrain of the Satipatthana sutta four foundations includes the following :

"In this way he remains focused internally on (body, feelings, mind, mental qualities) in and of themselves, or externally on (mind) in and of itself…

Being focused on mind externally means knowing the mind state of another person and this is experienced as a mental feeling. It requires some degree of proficiency in concentration to have this ability.

1 Like

It’s very difficult. Get rid of the action of eating, intentionality of eating, craving, and delight. Then any remaining pleasant sensation is vedana!

I’m not sure. I think what you describe as “content” includes vedana. What you describe as “response” sounds to me more like what follows, the associated like/dislike (craving/aversion), combined with an emotional response

The suttas describe vinnana, vedana and sanna as “conjoined” and I think this means they always arise together. So they come as a package, and arise simultaneously. It all happens very quickly of course.

I think you can observe bodily sensation as being pleasant or unpleasant, but even with those I think it’s tricky to separate them out from the associated like and dislike response.

Sure, and vedana is the second frame of satipatthana, but again I think it is quite difficult to notice mental vedana, as distinct from other mental objects appearing in the third and fourth frames.

Just to be clear, I don’t have a big problem with ice-cream, it’s just an example I like to use… You believe me, don’t you? :yum:

Said Martin, digging into a Neopolitan! :ice_cream:

You know that the three marks of existence aren’t strawberry, vanilla and chocolate right?!

Well to be certain, if you notice any vedana, it is one of these: pleasant, unpleasant or neutral.

1 Like

As an acolyte of the 17th Dairy Lama, I used to worship the Tantric Trinity of Neapolitan, and dwell in the Pristine Purity of Vanilla. :laughing:


Vedana and Sanna and Vinnana are conjoined not disjoint.
Please see Mahavedalla Sutta.

It is precisely the task of the second foundation to develop that ability.
“he remains focused internally on feelings in and of themselves”
Every conscious experience has an associated feeling tone, and it is a matter of isolating that. For those of an intellectual temperament or background, this would be a new way of looking at things. On the other hand, those with an arts background can see everything in terms of feeling. It’s a matter of practice.

Sure, but I do have some experience of satipatthana.
I still haven’t seen a direct, practical answer to the OP question.

The Vedana of rapture and bliss during meditation is a mental vedana devoid of the five hindrances.


In general, I think it is better to work with whatever your actual experience is and then consider if/ how it fits with a conceptual framework, rather than the other way around.

Insight unfolds in its own time according to its conditions.

I’ll say it took me an embarrassingly long time (as in, nearly 20 years) to really tune in to vedanā. It finally clicked in the course of intensive practice on retreat. The experience entailed a shift in perspective whereby contact retreated to the background and the hedonic feeling tone was present in the fore. For a time, my experience was just of a continually changing set of feeling (unpleasant, unpleasant, unpleasant, pleasant, neutral, unpleasant…) without much awareness of what the accompanying sense object was. Eventually this new field of awareness became more integrated with existing ones.

I’m sorry I can’t offer an EBT-based answer, but from a practical point of view, I’d suggest just keep gently observing without expectation.

Much mettā.


The best place to find an answer that is direct and practical is within your own practice. That’s practical and you have direct access to it. :slight_smile:

Meanwhile an analogy occurred to me as I read down this thread. Vedana, vinnana and sanna could possibly be considered as conjoined triplets, three individuals but inevitably connected?

As I read the suttas, vinnana, sanna and vedana are three aspects of contact (phassa), what you might call the “initial experience” of a sense object.
I’m not convinced that it’s possible to notice them separately. Though of course the aggregates are just a model of experience, and I don’t regard them as “things”, more as a method.

Any thoughts on my other question, whether mental vedana = the second arrow?

1 Like

This sutta explains all of the vedana a meditator can experience.
But how, is the question.
Basically dukkha vedanā are experienced properly, throughout the body, internally as well as externally when in first jhāna. These are gross feelings/sensations. (dukkhindriya)
Sukha vedanā are experienced in third jhāna and these too are gross feelings. (sukhindriya)
Domanassa vedanā are experienced in second jhāna and these are subtle feelings. (Somanassindriya)
Somanassa vedanā are experienced in fourth jhāna and these too are subtle feelings.
Indriya saṃyutta is s very good reference.

1 Like