The Art Of Labeling

Labeling and Investigating the Breath

Place you attention on the rising and falling of the movement of the breath as it manifests in the abdomens. When there is an in-breath label it as an in-breath. When there is an out-breath. Label it as an out-breath. Label also the gap between in and out breaths.

Be curios of every in-breath and out-breath. Investigate. How does the in-breath looks like? Is it long? Short? Quick? Does it have segments? And if so, how many? Which part is more predominant – the beginning, middle or end? And what can you tell on each segment? And how does the break between the in and out breath looks like? Is it long? Short? Do you have any thoughts when you’re there? And how does the out breath looks like? Long? Short? Segmented? Waved? Continuous? Does is end before the in-breath? Does it continue together with the new in-breath?

Make sure you take a very close look on your breath. Know each and every part of it. Be curious as to how it manifests. Sustain your awareness on the breath for as long as you can. And keep labelling the in and out breath. Know that you are breathing.

Labeling other mental and physical formations  

Once your mind wonders to some other object, which it will for sure, label it. If the mind jumps to a thought know that you are thinking and softly inwardly label it thinking thinking or simply wondering wondering. You can also label it as planning, remembering, fanaticising etc. If you can track a particular emotion such as anger, frustration, boredom, tiredness or joy, love, compassion, peace, interest etc. Just know that it is there and softly label it. Remember the practice is not about increasing out vocabulary but rather about knowing where we are in every given moment so it doesn’t have to be accurate labeling

The same goes with any physical sensation. Pain, tickle, heat, cold,  movement, softness, hardness, fluid, evaporating, solid etc. etc.

Label Vedana/ Feeling tone

As much as you can track down and label the feeling tone of every formation, i.e. label if it is a pleasant, unpleasant or neutral feeling.

Let Go and Come Back To The Breath

Once you labelled whatever formation was there let it go and come back to being with the breath for as long as you can. Sustaining your awareness on the breath and knowing how it manifests increases your concentration as well as linking you to the present moment again and again. The breath connects us to the present and it serves as our anchor in meditation.

Why Do We label?

We label for two reasons. First is so that we know where we are. Where is our attention at any given moment. When we label enough we begin to know ourselves. To know our tendencies. To know if we are mainly greedy/ aversive/ deluded/ obsessive/ restless/ tired/ doubtful etc etc.

Labelling also takes us out of our trance of thinking of something. When we label we take ourselves out of the thought or physical sensation and apply another layer that simply knows this is happening.  We increase our awareness, tap into that part of ours that knows who we really are and knows what we are doing/ thinking about.

Next week – we will practice and discuss obsessive thoughts and pain that doesn’t go away.

Namaste (literally means I see the divine in you)


About advaharma

Been fascinated by the mystery of life ever since I can remember. Have been practicing meditation for more than 20 years. Dedicated two years to an ongoing silent meditation retreat whilst living in Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and Burma. A Yogi and a Front Line Humanitarian.
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