When it comes to watching any unwholesome mental state or activity, any defilement, there are 2 ways you can deal with it.
One is that you know what is happening in the thoughts and the feelings; and you’re just watching them. This works when the state of the 5 aggregates is strong and balanced; then even just watching what’s happening in the thoughts and the feelings, the mind can still learn lessons because it knows the content but is uninvolved enough to be able to learn lessons.
The other way is when you’re not strong enough to do that and learn lessons; and in that stage, you zoom into just the feeling and watch the feeling continuously. There comes a time when the thinking stops and you are just watching the feeling and the feelings are totally gone, the state of mind changes from that slight negative uncomfortable feeling to being really comfortable. No sign of the distress anymore.
When the feelings change completely, the thinking is different – not because you have understood anything, but simply because you did not let the mind dwell on the unwholesome. Thinking feeds emotions. Because you have kept the thinking at bay and have fed that time with awareness of the feeling, and when the feeling is completely gone, you’ll notice that the thinking is different.
When the negativity is totally absent, the way the mind thinks about the same thing is different. And building from that, we do it over and over again for everything that we couldn’t handle. That was the way of working with it.
[Yogi's note: When there's not enough understanding to watch both the thoughts and feelings, then zero in on watching just the feelings continuously and learn.]