SuttaCentral

Looking for suttas on the effect of the emotions on the body

body
emotion
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f7887abc988> #<Tag:0x00007f7887abc848>

#1

Friends, I wonder whether there are suttas that help managing the effect of negative emotions on the body. I find that for me, when a negative emotion suddenly arises, it often manifests as a tension or pain in the body, which can last for a long time. It’s more a discomfort in the realm of the body than in the the real of feelings and emotions, so even when I calm down and try to see things differently so that they no longer cause fear or anger or other negative emotions, the pain and tension or unease in the body persist. I am wondering whether there are suttas that help with that?


#2

Now, take the mendicant who is focusing on some foundation of meditation that gives rise to bad, unskillful thoughts connected with desire, hate, and delusion. They focus on some other foundation of meditation connected with the skillful … They examine the drawbacks of those thoughts … They try to ignore and forget about those thoughts … They focus on stopping the formation of thoughts … With teeth clenched and tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, they squeeze, squash, and torture mind with mind
How to Stop Thinking MD20


#3

Thank you. I know that sutta. But it does not really help with that problem. The problem I was referring to is that once the thoughts have arisen, the pain or tension in the body are triggered so it’s too late to apply the methods in the sutta, which are indeed useful to make the thoughts (but not the bodily discomfort) subside.
For example, as soon as a thought of something causing strong anxiety arises, one may feel sick in the stomach. Then one can calm down those thoughts, but the upset stomach will persist for quite a long time.
Did the Buddha give teachings on what to do so that the body may respond with less tension to negative thoughts, and stay generally more relaxed whatever happens?


#4

Then you may need a practical solution to tackle this particular problem, I don’t think we could find any suttas that directly anwer the issue.
I saw that this forum is not to discuss practical issues. However, I’ll look it up and let you know if I find any sutta related to the problem.


#5

I work with MN 10, Satipatthana Sutta. I find there is a distinction between bodily and mental feeling, also see the Arrow Sutta.


#6

Hi Irene,

I believe he did in the Satipatthana Sutta. The effect of cultivating mindfulness fully allows one to distance oneself from thoughts and resultant emotions, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system creating a sense of calm steadiness and a grounded firmness that allows you to stand unaffected by the flood of raw emotion. Regular meditation, living a quiet lifestyle not seeking external stimuli and a concerted effort to develop mindfulness to the degree that you are always trying to be mindful and aware in your waking moments causes you to develop an amazing equanimity and sense of calm. It allows you to step away from your emotions and see that you are not your feelings and emotions these are just things that arise and pass away, no need to hold fast to them or wish them gone because you don’t seize hold of them and really ‘feel’ them. Of course stopping meditating and returning to old habits will cause it all to unravel and before long you are back in the swamp again.

with metta.


#7

Hi Irene, sorry you are suffering. I’m told that Pāli language doesn’t have a word that translates as “emotion”, because the Buddha analyed [edit: analyzed] mental states differently.

Perhaps what you perceive as a positive emotion is sometimes actually a relatively pleasant unwholesome mental state (such as desire, delusion, righteousness, pride, etc) that continues to distress your body.
Hence the persistence of the bodily discomfort despite feeling better. When my mind really shifts from unwholesome to wholesome states, it instantly calms the agitated body and allows the physical symptoms to begin to ease.

For me, loving-kindness and compassion (metta and karuna) are most helpful for bringing relief to the body post-emotional excess. Especially self-directed karuna. You may want to study up on the 4fold efforts of Step 6 of the 8fold path (prevention & overcoming of unwholesome states & developing & maintaining wholesome states).

The EBT’s offer a lot of advice on prevention of the mental states that would induce or maintain mental and physical pain. For example see the sutta on the 2nd arrow (Sallekha Sutta?)

A fundamental aspect of prevention comes in the form of harmlessness, aka virtue (sīla). That includes right speech, not only meaning abstaining from untruthful speech, but also from harsh speech even if truthful! A harsh message, harsh word choice, or harsh tone, would make our words unskillful, supporting pain-inducing mental states.

Some harsh posts in this very forum have taken my breath away. They caused me to marvel at the mental states behind the comments and - particularly those about ordained Sangha or directed to Sangha - also marvel at the painful states they risk maintaining or inducing in future in the person posting.


#8

Thak you for these tips

I don’t understand this sentence; why should the way the Buddha analyzed mental states affect the existence of words in the Pali language?

I have seen harsh words being spoken in this forum on numerous occasions, including about the Sangha, so I thought they were acceptable if truthful. Here’s an example:

Would you say these words are not right speech because they are harsh?

I personally value truth very highly and if my words have sounded harsh in my endeavor to reach a better understanding I am sorry and I would be grateful if you could write to me by private message (so that we don’t go off topic here) to let me know where precisely I have gone wrong.


#9

Though technically not a sutta, I would recommend Mindfully Facing Disease and Death: Compassionate Advice from Early Buddhist Texts by Ven Anālayo, which, as the title suggests, is grounded in the suttas. Chapters such as ‘Mindful Pain Reduction’ and ‘Enduring Pain with Mindfulness’ might help alleviate your pain and unease. In the past those chapters have helped me endure severe feelings of nausea. (Please note: unlike most other works by the author, Mindfully Facing Disease and Death is not freely available.)