Your question and Mike's comment about "tricks" brings to mind the following that I read last week, and whilst it doesn't reference sutta, it gives some potential criteria etc.
From "Awareness Alone Is Not Enough: Questions & Answers with Ashin Tejaniya"http://sayadawutejaniya.org/wp-content/ ... Enough.pdf
Yogi: I have been trying to watch the mind, but labelling
automatically comes in because I used labelling for over two
months before coming here.
SUT: But the mind is labelling!
Yogi: Yes, but I keep using words in my mind like ‘thinking’.....
SUT: How does it feel when you see such labels come up in
Yogi: It’s a little bit distracting. I try to push the labelling
SUT: NO, NO, don’t try to push it aside!! Just recognize
that the mind is labelling. You cannot stop a habit abruptly.
If you try to stop it forcefully, there will be a conflict.
Yogi: What’s the difference between labelling and just
observing or noticing? In either case you recognize what is
happening. What’s wrong with using words?
SUT: Labelling gives the mind a lot of work to do and
therefore it has less time to investigate. Phenomena are
happening at an incredibly fast rate, and labelling them will
therefore also be late, i.e. you are naming the experience
long after it happened.
Yogi: So just feel the emotion as opposed to labelling it?
SUT: Yes, by being aware of what is going on continuously.
When we observe something, the mind naturally comments
on what is going on. There is nothing wrong with that.
Mechanically labelling ‘fear, fear, fear’ is very different. That
is not only tiring and but it also prevents you from seeing the
details of your experience. It is unnecessary. But you cannot
stop the natural comments the mind makes when it recognizes
Mechanical labelling weakens both awareness and
understanding of the mental processes. We don’t really need
labelling to explain anything to ourselves; we only need labels
to explain things to other people. When we use labelling, the
mind will get involved with all the meanings and associations
connected to that label. By using labelling we also target a
particular aspect of our experience and therefore cannot
see the whole picture.