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Label with thought vs. muscle-memory, what do you think?

I thought this would be beneficial and suitable to post here because I’m looking for no bs feedback and one of the principles here (from the home page) is "openness regarding what the techniques may lead to and how these contrast or align with the traditional models".

I have been noting / labeling with my smartphone on and off for around 5 years. Over the last few months I’ve been putting a lot of time into the app and need to get more outside feedback to help orient it in a positive direction.

Here’s how it works:

I find there are two modes of labeling:

1. Traditional: With thought (mental dialogue / language-based)
2. New: With muscle-memory (fingers)
  • With data logging uses smartphone
  • Noting on a smartphone is like learning to type on a keyboard with 6 keys. Once it becomes muscle-memory it is faster to type than to speak.
  • Smartphone labeling allows data-logging which in our time has only very recently made possible. So it is mostly unexplored territory with a great deal of potential I believe.
I believe labeling with thought (traditional) and labeling with muscle-memory are the same fundamentally. They both achieve the same vipassana purpose -- to discern between sensations / break them apart / see them clearly. The differences are nuanced, so I’ve listed a table here for better understanding.

AnytimeOnly when hands are free, smartphone 
No accessible data logging yetAccessible data logging
Short time to remember labelsAt least 15 minutes for labels to become muscle-memory. 
No data contribute to scienceFull data contribute to science
Thought labels thoughtLabel does not self-reference (unless you note muscle-memory)
Label takes ~1sLabel takes ~0.1s (about an order of magnitude less time)
No hard limit on number of usable labels during session. Better if you want over 6 labels in one session.Hard limit on number of usable labels during session. Better if you want to focus on 6 or less labels in one session.
Harder for beginners because of unconstrained usable label space. Easier for beginners because of constrained usable label space. 
Better for deep states because can transition from noting-with-words to nothing-without-words (to achieve over 10+ notes/sec) seamlessly.Worse for deep states because of maximum comfortable limit of note/sec around 7. 
No feedback on sensations after sessionFeedback on sensations after session  like note speed, note type, etc. good for analysis and motivation
Weaker anchoring to the present moment for beginnersStronger anchoring to the present moment for beginners with haptic feedback / less subtle label.
Doubt is minimized through traditionDoubt is maximized by lack of tradition creating hindrance for most
Labeling with thought brings up symbols of peace, calm, and other attracting elements“Smartphone” brings up symbols of distraction, addictions, and other avoidance elements
Is already highly optimizedHas an unknown potential for optimization
Is not applicable for machine-learning insightCan gain insight from machine-learning
Impractical for teacher or therapist to collect and analyze data for all students / patientsPractical for teacher or therapist to collect and analyze data for all students / patients
For guided meditation to train noting speed, no feedback loop possible between student and trainerFor guided meditation to train noting speed, access to direct feedback between student and trainer (eg. play a sound, note sound) makes it easy to increase and ascertain maximum noting speed.
Low potential for verifiable, measurable markers of progress (no data)High potential for verifiable, measurable markers of progress (big data)

Some questions:

  • Does anyone know if, traditionally, there are also forms of labeling using muscle-memory? For example hitting a different drum for different sensations, or assigning a different sensation to focus on for each bead in a bracelet, etc?
  • Does anyone know if there is ever much feedback between students and teachers regarding what sensations the student has?
  • What is the current state of research on Vipassana sensations? Are we already collecting such data with smaller groups of students?
I think many people might be averse to such an idea because they are attached to the form of the smartphone as being incompatible with meditation’s goals. ("Isn't the goal of meditation to get away from the smartphone?") However with more tech adoption like meditation apps, I think this idea is changing. The foreseeable trend is more acceptance that the form is empty, and the tool’s usefulness is what matters in the context of meditation technology. Therefore I believe noting with a smartphone is an inevitable trend since it serves the same purpose as noting with thought with the added benefit of data collection, and data collection will become more valuable over time.

  • Can you play devil’s advocate and find holes in my thoughts?
  • Do you disagree with any of the pros / cons?
  • Do you think this is useless or dislike the idea, why?
  • Any general opinions, suggestions, comments, questions, other?

RE: Label with thought vs. muscle-memory, what do you think?
11/30/19 4:50 PM as a reply to Anton.
I think this is a really interesting idea and well worth exploring. I'm too tired tonight for giving any elaborate feedback, but I spontaneously thought of one thing: assigning labels through muscle movements is conceptual thinking just like using mental oral talk is. There are sign languages after all. It probably partly activates different parts of the brain, but it would still be thinking noting thinking. Yet, other advantages might make it worthwhile. 

RE: Label with thought vs. muscle-memory, what do you think?
12/1/19 4:32 AM as a reply to Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö.
Hi Linda emoticon thanks for your reply. I did not make the link to sign language but it seems valid and insightful.

When you say "conceptual thinking" does that line up with this definition of Vitarka?

Ulrich Timme Kragh explains vitarka (discernment) and vicāra (discursiveness), as understood by the Yogācārabhūmi-Śāstra, thus: Discernment is "the cognitive operation that is responsible for ascertaining what is perceived by the senses by initially labeling it with a name", while Discursiveness is "the subsequent conceptual operation of deciding whether the perceived sense-object is desirable and what course of action one might want to take in relation to it."