One of the practices I encountered early on, when I got interested in Buddhism is known as "Awareness of feeling tone," which is commonly noticed as aversion, neutral, or pleasurable. Put another way it could be described as feelings that tend to be experienced as bad, indifferent, or good.
After working with "Feeling tone," for a few years, practcing with Theravada monks, one day it occured to me as I was standing up from meditation that for the past two years, what I was actually experiencing was "Thought tone," **NOT** the tone of my "Feelings." Fuuuuuuccccckkkkkk! I was standing their saying... "Are you kidding me? Seriously? Really?" And the inward response that came back was "Yep!" It's understandable given most people access feeling through thoughts and analyzing. When I told my Zen teacher he was laughing so hard,tears rolled down his face. In that moment I envisioned myself as Homer Simpson. Oy vey!
The above said I've known many who grapple with having the ability to tell the difference between "genuine" feelings and thoughts. What can make it particularly difficult is the fact, that the thinking aspect of mind has the capacity to spin thoughts in such a way that it can create a sensation that mimics what we might understand as "feeling," without the benefit of actually being one.
Far to often addicts mistake overwhelming thoughts (obsession) for catostrophic feelings (dysregulated thought sensations that trend toward impulsive reaction rather than healthy responses, which are usually tagged as dysregulated emotion) carrying an intense sense of doom. The distinction can appear minor or without a difference, but in my direct experience, it turned out to be incredibly important.
Rather than trying to comprehend feelings intellectually, I found it beneficial to pause and tune into my intuition through Zen meditation practice. This shift in empahsis and focus helped me to experience conscious contact with emotions as intuitions. Intriguingly, during meditation, some may believe they're connecting with their feelings, when in reality, they're merely experiencing the echoes of the mind's thoughts. Once this is noticed, it cannot be unnoticed.
The way I usually introduce people who tend to say, "I feel angry, I feel depressed, I feel anxious, I feel [whatever the sensation appears to be]", I offer a different place to stand by asking them to please describe the anger, depression, anxiety, or worry.
After they describe it... usually vividly, I ask them, "Based on what your saying, are you describing a train of thought masqurading as a feeling, or an actual feeling not connected to a line of thought? Is the mind feeling angry or thinking angry, that produces a sensation in you? Is the mind feeling depressed or thinking depressed, that produces a sensation in you? Is the mind feeling anxious or running based on fears and predictions, that produces a sensation in you? The common response is often the same as mine... Homer Simpson or a deer caught in the headlights of reality.
It can be difficult to notice such things on our own. That's how we can end up in such dark places. This is why having an outward mentor, guide, or teacher can be so invlaueable. In my experience , the outward guide usually compliments the inward intutitive nature, mentor, or teacher.
in conclusion, the invitation is to reflect and introspect in meditation on the possibility that our intutitive nature is the source of our authentic feeling, instead of thought grabbing the wheel of attention and impersonating emotions.
一We Are the Practice Itself