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In the Vitakkasanthana Sutta the Buddha gives 5 ways to help calm the heightened mind. In Thanissaro Bhikkhu's translation the fourth method is described as

he should attend to the relaxing of thought-fabrication with regard to those thoughts.

Can some one unpack that a bit. How would I go about relaxing my thought-fabrication?

Many Thanks

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You'll have to dive into the pali a bit to get more of an idea. http://lucid24.org/mn/mn020/index.html#flink-9

citta-sankhara, mano-sankhara, vitakka-sankhara, in all likelihood are very similar if not identical.

First, backing up a bit into a higher level of thought complexity, vaca (vocalized speech) sankhara are vitakka (directed thought).

Basically, you can think of sankhara as essential constituent building blocks that make up that product.

So assuming vitkaka-sankhara are very similar to citta-sankhara, that would mean thoughts consist of perceptions and feelings as their underlying building blocks. If you can slow down the causes that form thoughts, then you would also slow down the thoughts themselves.

This is a very powerful way to deal with thoughts, because it requires sharper discernment to see the underlying building blocks that form thoughts.

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In my opinion, this is basically practicing four Jhana by gradual training. For instance, a person who likes killing stops his habits gradually. Say stop killing humans, then animal then fish then insects, etc. Another example is substituting angry thoughts with lovingkindness thoughts.

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iv “If, while he is trying to forget those thoughts and is not giving attention to them, there still arise in him evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion, then he should give attention to stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts. When he gives attention to stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts, then any evil unwholesome thoughts connected with desire, with hate, and with delusion are abandoned in him and subside. With the abandoning of them his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated. Just as a man walking fast might consider: ‘Why am I walking fast? What if I walk slowly?’ and he would walk slowly; then he might consider: ‘Why am I walking slowly? What if I stand?’ and he would stand; then he might consider: ‘Why am I standing? What if I sit?’ and he would sit; then he might consider: ‘Why am I sitting? What if I lie down?’ and he would lie down. By doing so he would substitute for each grosser posture one that was subtler. So too…when a bhikkhu gives attention to stilling the thought-formation of those thoughts…his mind becomes steadied internally, quieted, brought to singleness, and concentrated.

https://suttacentral.net/mn20/en/bodhi

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By simply relaxing. This stuff isn't complicated. Just sit, go for a walk, or have a cup of tea. I challenge you to tell me that you don't see the diminishment of thought fabrication if you sit down on the couch in silence and without moving for ten minutes. What you will notice is that your thoughts seem to become louder for a time. That's you simply noticing what was already there. You were just too distracted to see. After about the five minute mark, however, you'll start to see gaps in your thinking. If you push to a half hour, I promise you that you'll see a marked decrease in your discursive thinking and thought fabrication.

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