Friday, January 4, 2013

To Label, Or Not?

Labeling, or the practice of naming the nature of the mind's activity in the moment, can be useful tool for mindfulness practice. It is also a debated practice amongst various teachers. Some use it extensively. Others discourage it. 

Sitting this morning, I let my experience guide me and found a third way with labeling.

Sitting with a disturbing thought, a hindrance, and becoming aware of its nature, labeling is useful to put such mental fabrications in their place. It serves to put away the distraction, and bring the mind back to its intended object. It helps prevent the mind from getting lost into the object of agitating thoughts, and assigning the problem where it really belongs, the hindrance itself.

Sitting with just breath, and body sitting, and other non-self related phenomena such as sounds, there is no need to label. Putting words on such experiences introduces an unnecessary degree of separation between the present moment occurrence and pure awareness. Better yet in that case, is to stay with sensory awareness. Being with the sensation of breath flowing in and out, or sounds meeting hearing sense, or contact points between body and chair. 

Labeling. There is a middle way.

I will be curious to hear about your own take on labeling, and how you have or have not been practicing with it.

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