Tuning in is a very simple process, with profound results. Tuning in connects you with your feelings. Your feelings function as a gauge of how things are going for you. Being in touch with your feelings is of the utmost importance since they give a far more accurate rendering of what is happening in your life than your mind does. Unfortunately, this culture has overdeveloped the mind to the extreme, and our mental processes tend to obscure rather than reflect what is happening in our lives.
Tuning in is also a bridge to the deeper states of consciousness. As it becomes easier to remain in the nonverbal state of just feeling your feelings, and you become familiar with yourself in a nonverbal way, you are able to contact deeper levels of your being. Eventually, you will move beyond all feelings and thoughts, and you will begin to find yourself in touch with something wondrous. Tuning in is a major aid on the way.
Tuning in is also a potent form of meditation that helps still the mind. Each time you successfully tune in, you deny the mind its control of your life. Tuning in is profoundly anti-mind; it erodes the very foundations of the mind's activities. Normally, we avoid the feeling of pain. Through tuning in, you learn to be with pain and accept it, and most importantly, not be thrown into unconsciousness by it. Once you have done this, you will begin to experience an amazing degree of freedom from your programming. For instance, in I Am That, Maharaj notes that the "acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than pleasure does. The personal self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. The ending of this pattern is the ending of the self." By "the ending of the self," he means not physical death but freedom from the tyranny of your conditioning, which loses its power over you.
Tuning in is necessary because we have developed the ability to rationalize or justify almost anything we might want to do or believe. Without the accurate reflection of our feelings, we will fall prey to the mind, and the mind has an agenda of its own that is almost always not in our best interests. Mind is an agent of society, something that was added to our being. Mind developed as we grew up, and then it took control over us. It is a cancer, choking out our feelings and siphoning off our energy into endless mental gyrations. These activities of the mind create so much of the dissatisfaction and unhappiness we experience in our lives.
The mind is an addition to our being, not intrinsic to it. To determine the truth of this for yourself, just watch a newborn baby. The baby will be full of feelings and vitality. It has no thoughts to dampen its feelings and vitality because it has no words yet. Feelings obviously precede words and thoughts. Feelings are more elemental than words, but we are socialized and educated in the ways of the mind and have lost this valuable connection. We are so acclimated to functioning from our minds that we have little awareness of this loss. Indeed, most people mistake thoughts for feelings or allow the overlay of thoughts to conceal or mislabel what they may actually feel. And most of us have no awareness of this loss except perhaps a sense that something is missing in our lives.
Almost all of my students find it far easier to meditate than to tune in. Not because meditation comes easily but because the mind is really spooked by feelings. As children, we found ourselves in situations that harmed us and generated negative feelings, even in the best of homes. To a young child, fear and pain can appear to be devastating, virtually life threatening. (As adults we have almost completely lost the ability to remember or even imagine what it was like being a child; the modes of functioning are so different that they might as well belong to different species.) Also, children have little control over their situations. Because children are helpless to change their situations, their mind comes in and buffers them from their feelings. At first, children may do this consciously, but with time and success it becomes habitual and unconscious, the mind coming in to protect the child from what appear to be overwhelming and devastating feelings.
For instance, one feeling often suppressed or repressed is anger. Early in the game, the child gets angry at a parent, and the parental response is so threatening, either physically or emotionally, that the child concludes this is dangerous behavior. In the child's mind, a strong parental response can appear to threaten his very existence or at minimum entail negative consequences. Thus, the child learns not to act this way. First, he stops expressing his anger, and then he finds a way to not even allow the anger to arise in his consciousness. And over time, this becomes an automatic response that happens outside of awareness.
Another feeling that gets repressed or suppressed is sadness. When children feel sad, parents let them know that is not okay. Maybe the parents feel guilty when their children are not happy or worry that others might think they are not good parents. So parents continually let children know it is not okay to be sad. And to please their parents or to avoid parental disapproval, children learn to sit on their sadness.
One way or another, feelings get suppressed or repressed. Even happiness may evoke a negative response from parents. It is surprisingly common for parents whose lives may not be going as they had hoped to feel jealous of their children's spontaneous joy and happiness. This happens in spite of the fact that they profess love for their children, and they are almost never aware of their jealousy. It is just that whenever their children are exuberant or happy, these parents find some excuse to bring them down. In this type of situation, children learn that it is not okay to feel good.
When we restore our ability to feel, we begin to undercut the whole delusional system that is the foundation of our personality. Feelings tell us what is actually happening with us, not what we think is happening, not what we want to happen, not what should happen, but what actually is happening. Then we have the ability to learn from experience. We can see how our thoughts and actions actually affect our lives. Then changes happen, of themselves, without any effort from us. The organism tends toward health. But to heal, we must be aware of the dis-ease. There is no need for psychological processing or even understanding because healing happens from deep within, spontaneously, when the dis-ease is clearly seen. Not only will problems tend to resolve themselves but you will find your life unbelievably enriched. Feelings add another dimension to being alive.
"There is a way which is supremely effective. Just look at yourself as you are, see yourself as you are, accept yourself as you are, and go ever deeper into what you are".
Nisargadatta Maharaj, Indian mystic