5

I'm a bit confused by contradicting statements about the noting/labeling-technique. On the one hand, one teacher has once told me to note as fast as possible to not let anything else enter the mind, than the chosen meditation object e.g. the belly or the tip of the nose. On the other hand, this seems to make the practice very cognitive and another teacher suggested that one should have a few seconds of pause to become aware of other things and induce more calmness.

So, what do you think? Are there simply two ways of handling noting? (one being to note very fast and the other one at a moderate speed) Or has it something to do with how advanced one is practicing? (the first teacher also pointed out, when I correctly remember that one needs to do that this fast to enter vipassana-jhanas or something like this...)

Would be nice to hear your opinions and experiences on this topic.

Kind regards Rafi

  • could you please include which practice of meditation you are practicing? that could alter the appropriate answer – Ryan Aug 23 '15 at 0:38
  • To give you a little meditation-biography: I've started with 3 goenka-retreats and then had a retreat in the tradition of Mahasi with a teacher, trained under U Pandita. She was also the one, recommending labeling that fast. The other labeling instructions (slow) I've received from a teacher who was in the line of tibetan buddhism. So has it maybe something to do with that? Andrei Volkov's response also sounds like what that teacher told me. Thanks for that, Andrei! About my practice right now: I note all kind of phenomena while trying to stay fixed on the tip of my nose. – Rafi Aug 23 '15 at 11:56
  • Here's a good summary of vipassana noting : saraniya.com/books/mahasi-sayadaw/pdf/… – Ryan Aug 23 '15 at 12:21
4

As Trungpa Rinpoche explained, noting/labeling is done at the time of recovering from distraction, not all the time!

You sit and breathe and let your mind expand in its natural state, while the fishes of psychosomatic shadows swim deep under the ice, and then sooner or later one of the them raises up getting progressively sharper, becomes a fully-formed thought, then suddenly swallows you and carries away. As soon as you can, you notice that you got carried away, mentally label this very fact (silently saying "thought" in your head, or just making a mental note), and come back to just sitting. Makes sense?

You don't rigidly fasten the mind to the here-and-now, nor do you mechanically attach discursive evaluation ("thought" or whatever) to each and every mental phenomena. You give your mind some room.

This is like watching the airplanes do the touch-and-goes, you don't shut down the sky, you don't forcefully control every airplane, you wide open the sky and let them fly -- but when one of them tries to land on your airport and grasp you, you allow it to just brush your airstrip with its wheels, and then slip away letting it dissolve back to the pregnant emptiness it came from.

But if it does land and capture you, then by definition you are no longer watching. You can setup a subconscious alarm though, that will ring soon after you're caught -- and this is when you wake up, say "thought!", let go of the thought, and come back to watching.

3

One does not have to note everything that arises.

What is important is to see the objects clearly so that one can come to see their true nature, i.e. the 3 signs of existence (impermance, unsatisfactoriness and not-self).

If you note too fast it can result in a restless and agitated mind.

If you note too slow sloth and torpor might arise.

One should not note too fast or too slow but a place in the middle (way).

1

"Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?"

"Yes, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned1 to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?"

"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune[2]the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."

Sona Sutta - Access to Insight

  • "and there pick up your theme" - is my favorite part ;) – Andrei Volkov Aug 23 '15 at 0:02
0

On the other hand, this seems to make the practice very cognitive

This is because noting there is Vitarka & Vicara (also see: Vitakka,vicāra by Piya Tan) creating access concentration.

... teacher has once told me to note as fast as possible to not let anything else enter the mind ...

... when I correctly remember that one needs to do that this fast to enter vipassana-jhanas or something like this ...

Doing this very fast build some level of concentration. This does have some benefits, but again this also creates verbal fabrication which you should avoid. More on this see this answer.

So, what do you think? Are there simply two ways of handling noting?

Since nothing creates verbal fabrications ideally you should avoid this. Also any visualisation of metal or cognitive activity. Also see this answer.

The basic principle of mediation should be on arising and passing of sensations (either as pleasant, unpleasant). For more information see this answer. Also mentioned the basic principles in this answer and this answer.

(one being to note very fast and the other one at a moderate speed)

If you still choose to do this. It should be fast enough to stop other thoughts arising. This depends on the situation and metal state. More distractions and more restless you mind is do it faster and less distractions and more composed you are do it slower.

0

Depend on the individual's concentration. One should focus on either tip of the nose noting "breathe in, know it, breathe out, know it", not too fast, not too slow, just like normal breathing one get used to do. If mind is wandering about just a little faster, but just to note "wandering, wandering", then focus on tip of nose breathing. Mind used to get astray, just note "know it" without any wishing to grasp it. It is Anatta. Yogi wish is to grasp it, but mind used to get wander and just know it once it get wander. Then focus on breathing.

0

From page 39 of Daniel Ingram's "Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha":

The practice is this: make a quiet, mental one-word note of whatever you experience in each moment. Try to stay with the sensations of breathing, noting these quickly as “rising” (as many times as the sensations of the breath rising are experienced) and then “falling” in the same way. This could also be considered fundamental insight practice instructions. When the mind wanders, notes might include “thinking,” “feeling,” “pressure,” “tension,” “wandering,” “anticipating,” “seeing,” “hearing,” “cold,” “hot,” “pain,” “pleasure,” etc. Note these sensations one by one as they occur and then return to the sensations of breathing. Here are some valuable tips for successful noting. Don’t get too neurotic about whether or not you have exactly the correct word for what arises. The noting should be as consistent and continuous as possible, perhaps one to five times per second. Speed and an ability to keep noting no matter what arises are very important. Anything that derails your noting practice deserves aggressive and fearless noting the next time it arises. Note honestly and precisely. So long as you note whatever arises, you know that you were mindful of it. Noticing each sensation and those that follow, you will see their true nature. Seeing their true nature, you will gain profound insights.

Judging from the language of your question, I thought you were referring to this book. If you have not already, read the whole thing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.