Probably the most easily described is that range of feelings which should really be referred to as “sensations”. When you stub your toe against a table leg, the pain you feel is a “sensation”. When you feel a feather, that experience you are having is a “sensation”. When you caress your lover you are enjoying the “sensation”; just as you are enjoying the “sensation” when you are being touched by a lover, or indeed by a friend, parent or stranger. The handshake from a stranger is a sensation just as is the peck on the cheek from a family member or the hearty embrace or warm hug from a friend.
The other range of feelings of which we are all familiar with are the emotions. The feelings of happiness and sadness are common experiences to all. Most feelings of the emotional kind could be grouped under “pleasurable” or “painful”. We enjoy the emotions that become our feeling experience when something gives us pleasure and we try to avoid the feelings that are experienced when something is likely to be painful. Emotions are either enjoyable or distressing and the problem with them is that they are very unreliable. We are not quite sure how they are going to behave from one minute to another. We can be overjoyed and ecstatically happy one moment, only to be distraught and depressed the next. Without emotions, life would be dull indeed but if only they could be a little less…well, emotional! Emotions are the effect of perception. When we think of some event that is about to happen, or remember one that has happened in the past, we experience emotions. The feelings aroused through emotion will be pleasant or painful depending upon our individual perception of the event. The instruments that are the antenna, so to speak, of the emotions are the organs along the front of the body – notably the eyes, nose, tongue and genitals.
This next range of feelings is a little less familiar to some people. They can only be fully experienced by consciously opening yourself to feelings that are taking place within the body. These body feelings are happening all the time, but many people go through life unaware of them. The most obvious body feelings are the negative kind. Fear is felt in the body, usually as a piercing feeling in the pit of the stomach. Anxiety is also usually to be felt by the self aware person as a background gnawing feeling in the same body area: the stomach. Confidence, on the other hand, can be felt in the legs and buttocks as a feeling of balance and of being grounded. This is the feeling that the athlete has when she stands at the starting block, optimistically waiting for the starting gun to send her out of the blocks. There are feelings of love and gratitude, a sense of connection with another – feelings generally felt in the chest, or heart region. There are other, unpleasant feelings, such as loss, loneliness and grief.
The feelings in the body will vary considerably, the experience of which depends upon the context of an event and how self-aware the individual is in his or her own journey of self-development. The whole body is involved including the head; although it is usually only in headaches that body feelings are felt consciously in the head. The primary instruments, or antenna as we have previously described them of body feelings are consciousness, breath and the blood.
Lack of feeling is as real a feeling as the other, more obvious, body feelings. “I feel nothing” actually means, “I am not aware of any feelings”. In fact, this sense of ”no-feeling” usually results in very deep emotional feelings of inadequacy or ambivalence with regard to self, life and intimacy. Some people even privately question their physical normality or sexual orientation when faced with ”no-feeling”, secretly believing that there must be something be wrong with them because they do not have the same feelings as other men. The fact is that feelings are there in every human being. The cause of ”no-feeling” does not lie in any basic flaw in the body, but in a split in the mind-body relationship. ”No-feeling” is a result of the mind ”splitting off” from the body. For some people, ”no-feeling” during intimacy occurs at certain stages during an intimate connection or relationship. Some people report ”no-feeling” throughout their whole body while others have a ring of protection around particular body parts, commonly around the lower abdomen and genitals. Some people men experience ”no-feeling” due to touch deprivation; others due to negative sexual experiences in their past. Still others experience ”no-feeling” due to their perceived inexperience, and an unconscious sabotaging of their deepest desires.