Hooked on a Feeling

What is “it” that continues to pull into entertaining old habits, behaviors, and emotional conditions, even after we have practiced meditation, incorporated the PAUSE into our daily activities, and have actively woken up to declare the day good for months on end?

Old mental patterns, or habits, we realize them when they occur…we have trained Rational Mind to be aware of it, we come into awareness with Neti Neti…yet “it” the thought/ emotion still has power, “it” still pulls us, “it” still feels like a strong possibility.

We have learned that this pull comes from the subconscious mind, and is referred to Samskaras in the Yoga Sciences.    We will now explore “it” with Buddhist philosophies, which refer to this engrained pattern as a ‘hook’ called Shenpa.

Shenpa is the “charge”—the charge behind our thoughts and words and actions, the charge behind “like” and “don’t like.”  Shenpa comes along with a very seductive urge to do something. Somebody says a harsh word and immediately you can feel a shift. There’s a tightening that rapidly spirals into mentally blaming this person, or wanting revenge, or blaming yourself. Then you speak or act from the deeply ingrained habit.

The charge behind the tightening, behind the urge, behind the story line or action is shenpa.

It is the addictive nature of shenpa we all know so well. Our escape from reality and voyage into mindless practices, like eating an entire box of chocolates, or binge drinking. It sets us on a cycle that ends with negative consequences.

At the subtlest level, we feel a tightening, a tensing, a sense of closing down. Then we feel a sense of withdrawing, not wanting to be where we are. That’s the hooked quality. That tight feeling has the power to hook us into self-denigration, blame, anger, jealousy and other emotions which lead to words and actions that end up poisoning us.      ~ Pema Chodron


Mindfulness enables you to fully know your experience in each moment,

and Allow it to Be what it is.



So when your colleague upsets you, if you are being mindful, you witness that her words generate thoughts and body sensations in you that lead to a strong emotion with still more body sensations. You have the insight that these feelings are being created by a chain reaction of thoughts in your mind. While this chain reaction is going on, you acknowledge how miserable it makes you feel.
But instead of reacting with harsh words when you feel the impulse to speak unskillfully, you choose not to. Your mindfulness allows you not to identify with the impulses of your strong emotions or act from them.

Moreover, because you witnessed the impersonal nature of the experience, you don’t get stuck in a bad mood for the rest of the day. It is an unpleasant experience, but you are not imprisoned by it.


Patience means steadfastness, peacefulness, tolerance and stoicism in the face of harm, or anger.

 When you FEEL the hook… PAUSE
Your mind, or old pattern might be “in full play” before you notice it, but when you do notice it…PAUSE. Allow yourself to feel the HOOK, and then choose to dedicate your attention, or action in a different direction.

Learn to FEEL the pull of Shenpa when it occurs.
Have patience with it, offer the sensation kindness, but allow yourself to feel the difficult emotion that is entangled with the hook.

Choose at that moment, WHICH WOLF TO FEED


Material found in: Taking the Leap: Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears, by Pema Chodron


Melinda Johnston, M.Msc.: Spiritual Philosopher and Coach, Intuitive Healer, Wellness Consultant, International Speaker, Author, and Peace Activist
Author of Practicing Peace Guidebook


{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

This blog is kept spam free by WP-SpamFree.