To note, or not to note.....

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

To note, or not to note.....

Postby salty-J » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:30 am

.....that is my question. :tongue:
I had been noting in meditation, but I am reading Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, and Bhante G says he does not recommend noting, as it takes time, and everything happens so fast, I guess you'd be taking the focus off the present moment in order to think in order to note...
I got the impression noting is very popular as a part of meditation, and wondering if any of you don't do it, or whether you do or not, and your experiances and/or opinions regarding it as a part of mindfulness of breath meditation.
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:55 am

Hi Salty,

Noting or not noting is just a technique. Different teachers have different opinions. Pick a teacher you like and follow his/her advise.

Personally, I use noting because I was taught by Mahasi-style teachers, and that's they way we work. For me it prevents mental proliferation by focussing strongly on the object, rather than a concept. [This may sound backwards if you haven't practised it for a while...] However, if I'd spent a few years not noting, that would probably seem just as natural and effortless as noting does to me now.

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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:22 am

salty-J wrote:.....that is my question. :tongue:
I had been noting in meditation, but I am reading Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, and Bhante G says he does not recommend noting, as it takes time, and everything happens so fast, I guess you'd be taking the focus off the present moment in order to think in order to note...
I got the impression noting is very popular as a part of meditation, and wondering if any of you don't do it, or whether you do or not, and your experiances and/or opinions regarding it as a part of mindfulness of breath meditation.


I have been thinking about noting today!
it seams to me that there are many styles of noting, some are labelling (thinking - feeling etc) others are noting in a more tick the box sense such as Bud-dho or not noting at all, or those techneques which notice and not mentally verbalise the noting, but essentially, I think, they are all noting.

I prefer to use Bud-dho when I am having a little dificulty, but try a few spending a few weeks on each.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby Ben » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:39 am

Hi Salty
I don't do the Mahasi-style of noting. Noting is a different technique to the one that I employ.
My advice is the same as Mike's. Stick with the instructions of a teacher that you feel comfortable with and then just give a decent trial period to see if its for you.
kind regards

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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby Guy » Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:44 am

Hi Salty,

While I appreciate the value in sticking to one particular technique, as others have suggested, I find that my mind is receptive to a bit of variety. I stick primarily to one method of breath meditation, but I also mix it up every now and then to freshen up the meditation and make it more interesting.

Personally I like to think of different techniques such as the "Buddho" mantra, counting the breath, noting sensations, etc. as tools in a toolbox. I don't stick to one tool or another but see how my mind is and then decide what it needs. Usually I only use counting or noting when my mind is very restless already and is proliferating a lot since this helps to bring it closer to the present moment. Multiple tools are useful for particular hindrances and sometimes it is a matter of experimentation to find what is most useful. If my mind is already relatively peaceful then I might just start watching the breath without any inner-speech. This is just what works for me (sometimes) maybe this approach will be useful for you too.

With Metta,

Guy
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby salty-J » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:01 am

:thanks: everybody.
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 17, 2010 6:03 am

Noting is the mental factor that applies the mind to the object. It should be used until it is no longer needed, i.e. until the mind ceases to wander. Noting or labelling is a device to know the object clearly — the important point is to know each mental or physical phenomenon as it arises and passes away in the present moment.
Vipassanā Jhānas: Hindrances and Antidotes
Vipassanā practice is a full and continuous attention to the object. This involves two aspects of concentration, vitakka and vicāra: aiming and rubbing discussed above. These two jhānic factors keep the mind absorbed in the object of noting. If they are absent, the mind will stray. Bombarded by sense objects and kilesas, especially the kilesas of longing for sensual objects, the mind will be engulfed by delusion and ignorance. There will be no light, no chance for the remaining three jhānic factors to assemble with the first two to create the environment of peace, clarity and joy where insight blossoms.
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:20 am

HI Guy,
Guy wrote:If my mind is already relatively peaceful then I might just start watching the breath without any inner-speech.

To confuse Mahasi-style noting with "inner speech" would be a serious misunderstanding. I presume your "inner speech" term is from Ajahn Brahm. What Ajahn Brahm means by "inner speech" is a completely different thing:
Ajahn Brahm wrote:Sometimes we assume it is through the inner commentary that we
know the world. Actually, that inner speech does not know the world at
all. It is the inner speech that spins the delusions that cause suffering.
Inner speech causes us to be angry with our enemies and to form dangerous
attachments to our loved ones. Inner speech causes all of life’s
problems. It constructs fear and guilt, anxiety and depression. It builds
these illusions as deftly as the skillful actor manipulates the audience to
create terror or tears. So if you seek truth, you should value silent awareness
and, when meditating, consider it more important than any thought.

[Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond, Page 12]
As Ven Pesala says, noting is a technique to apply the mind to the object without "inner speech".

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/pesala/Pan ... structions
U Pandita wrote:During a sitting meditation, if another object impinges strongly on the awareness so as to draw it away from the rising and falling of the abdomen, this object must be clearly noted. For example, if a loud sound arises during your meditation, consciously direct your attention toward that sound as soon as it arises. Be aware of the sound as a direct experience, and also identify it succinctly with the soft, internal verbal label “hearing, hearing.” When the sound fades and is no longer predominant, come back to the rising and falling. This is the basic principle to follow in sitting meditation.

In making the verbal label, there is no need for complex language. One simple word is best. For the eye, ear, and tongue doors we simply say, “Seeing, seeing... Hearing, hearing... Tasting, tasting.” For sensations in the body we may choose a slightly more descriptive term like warmth, pressure, hardness, or motion. Mental objects appear to present a bewildering diversity, but actually they fall into just a few clear categories such as thinking, imagining, remembering, planning, and visualizing. But remember that in using the labeling technique, your goal is not to gain verbal skills. Labeling technique helps us to perceive clearly the actual qualities of our experience, without getting immersed in the content. It develops mental power and focus. In meditation we seek a deep, clear, precise awareness of the mind and body. This direct awareness shows us the truth about our lives, the actual nature of mental and physical processes.

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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby PeterB » Sun Jan 17, 2010 9:37 am

To reinforce (possibly superfluously :) ) what Mike said, We are taught not to develop the labelling, so " hearing hearing" and then the return to the object. Not " I am hearing a dog/plane/ or cheque falling onto the doormat through the letterbox " just "hearing hearing" and return. The same with mental formations, or physical sensations, note and return.
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby Guy » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:06 pm

Hi Mike,

I was using inner-speech as a blanket term which includes both papanca (unskilful) and noting (skilful). While I acknowledge that noting is a skilful practice in bringing the mind closer to the present moment, it is still lagging behind the present moment as Ajahn Brahm explains in "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" and eventually even noting can be dropped (and should be in the method I practice). However, having said this, I am not too familiar with the Mahasi-style of meditation, so what I say might not apply to that particular method.

Salty,

If anything I have said on this thread is not useful then please disregard it.

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: To note, or not to note.....

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 1:16 pm

Hi Guy,
Guy wrote: While I acknowledge that noting is a skilful practice in bringing the mind closer to the present moment, it is still lagging behind the present moment as Ajahn Brahm explains in "Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond" and eventually even noting can be dropped (and should be in the method I practice).

Yes, that's why I brought it up because I think that Ajahn Brahm probably misrepresents the Mahasi-style noting. Which is OK, it's not the approach he teaches...

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