Hi there. Some of you know that I have recently started the labeling technique after years of practicizing Shikantaza in the Soto Zen tradition, whose emphasis on mindfulness actively discourages the use of any conceptual tools, e.g. labeling. So, it's a big change.
When practicing mindfulness in the Soto Zen way with various activities that require thinking, like talking, listening, reading, writing, studying, etc., I found it very easy: you full-heartedly focus on the reading, pull yourself back when you wander off, pay attention to the thoughts and question that arise in your head, etc. And I found that practicing this type of mindfulness really does help you be much more productive.
However, I have tried to do the labeling with the same activities I listed above (talking, listening, reading, writing, typing, etc.) and I find it extremely difficult. How can you speak to someone and also note mentally to yourself "talking...talking...talking"? I live in Brussels and have to rapidly switch back and forth between English, Dutch and French throughout my day, and the added stress of having to note that I am speaking on top of speaking multiple foreign languages back to back is nearly impossible. Likewise, if you are actively listening wholeheartedly to someone give a complex speech and you have to say "listening...listening...listening" at the same time that you are trying to process information, I find that it detracts from the overal mindfulness.
Just for the record, I am not criticizing the labeling technique itself. I am noting almost all other activities in my daily life. It's just these "dynamic" activity where thinking is required that pose a problem.
Are these cases instances good examples of when the labeling has reached its limits. Shouldn't we drop the labeling and switch to "pure awareness" in these specific instances?