Noting Difficulty

Nav, modified 11 Months ago.

Noting Difficulty

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
Hi I am hoping to get some good advice/affirmation around doubts that I have related to my noting technique.

For a while now i seem to have recurring doubt/judgement that i am not putting enough effort - that i need to contact the phenomena more deeply, i am not focusing hard enough on the object, etc. etc. 

I know intuitively that i should just note them as doubts and be accepting towards them, but i just cant seem to shake off that feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt. I am at the stage in practise where just gentle noting at a comfortable pace seems to make more sense than heroic effort or "penetrating the object". But everytime i try to gently focus on an object, i am plagued with self-doubts.

Is it enough to know what i am experiencing in the moment and move on noting (even if im not sinking into the experience), or do i need to make it a point to focus more intently?

Any inputs would be appreciated emoticon
Tim Farrington, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
Nav:
Hi I am hoping to get some good advice/affirmation around doubts that I have related to my noting technique.

For a while now i seem to have recurring doubt/judgement that i am not putting enough effort - that i need to contact the phenomena more deeply, i am not focusing hard enough on the object, etc. etc. 

I know intuitively that i should just note them as doubts and be accepting towards them, but i just cant seem to shake off that feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt. I am at the stage in practise where just gentle noting at a comfortable pace seems to make more sense than heroic effort or "penetrating the object". But everytime i try to gently focus on an object, i am plagued with self-doubts.

Is it enough to know what i am experiencing in the moment and move on noting (even if im not sinking into the experience), or do i need to make it a point to focus more intently?

Any inputs would be appreciated emoticon

Hi Nav,

First of all: "I know intuitively that i should just note them as doubts and be accepting towards them . . .   I am at the stage in practise where just gentle noting at a comfortable pace seems to make more sense than heroic effort or 'penetrating the object.'" We could go real zen here and just say, "yup." A lot of your concern here is basic conscientiousness, wanting very strongly to get this practice right, which is a virtue right up until it starts weighing enough to make itself an impediment. And you know this.

You say that every time you try to gently focus on an object, you are plagued with self doubts, which means that the doubts are offering themselves very generously and without effort on your part as the next object; or maybe the sense of "being plagued". It comes down to trusting the technique, and your own state of the art here. You mentioned "at a comfortable pace," so you might try being aware of pace: are you speeding up or slowing down as the doubts arise? If you are speeding up, does slowing down by the smallest degree ease anything? and vice versa. Or even noting the spontaneous new pace without the intention to tweak it. Doubt tends to bring in urgency, and the natural urge is to speed up. To slow down even by a degree, to allow the slightest bit more time and space for the doubt, can almost feel like cheating sometimes, or like "surrendering" to doubt rather than dispelling it or whatever. But strong steady meditation dispels everything, sees the anicca in everything, in time. This is gentle noting at a comfortable pace, persistent, ever-renewed, non-heroic practice. Trust that technique, and stick with it. You say that is your intuitive take on this, and i think your intuition is correct here. It's mat time, and acceptance. I don't think you're fucking up, for what that's worth, lol.

love, tim

[p.s.] I didn't mention the intensity of doubts that can come up with the dukkha nanas, because you just don't sound distressed enough, lol. But dissolution, and the fear that arises from that, are not irrelevant here, I think. But the basics hold even in the dark night. 
Sam Gentile, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 1347 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Nav:
Hi I am hoping to get some good advice/affirmation around doubts that I have related to my noting technique.

For a while now i seem to have recurring doubt/judgement that i am not putting enough effort - that i need to contact the phenomena more deeply, i am not focusing hard enough on the object, etc. etc. 

I know intuitively that i should just note them as doubts and be accepting towards them, but i just cant seem to shake off that feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt. I am at the stage in practise where just gentle noting at a comfortable pace seems to make more sense than heroic effort or "penetrating the object". But everytime i try to gently focus on an object, i am plagued with self-doubts.

Is it enough to know what i am experiencing in the moment and move on noting (even if im not sinking into the experience), or do i need to make it a point to focus more intently?

Any inputs would be appreciated emoticon

My teacher Abre told me that the hinderances, especially self-doubt would come up many times in  my noting practice. It is important to not let it sink you. Just note it. It's just something else to note. It's impermanent. Its not real. Its empty. Just note it and move on
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Chris Marti, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 4073 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
For a while now i seem to have recurring doubt/judgement that i am not putting enough effort - that i need to contact the phenomena more deeply, i am not focusing hard enough on the object, etc. etc. 

Effort!

Yes, this is a bugaboo for a lot of people and it takes time to realize that trying hard is not optimal. We tend to think "I have to try hard enough to make it matter." Then when we don't see immediate results, we say to ourselves, "I need to try harder!"

No.

Relax.

Effort, especially too much effort, is defocusing. It takes your attention away from the purpose of what you're trying to do, which is to calmly observe what's happening, right now. Try taking the stance that you're a totally uninvolved observer. That you have no dog in the fight. Just watch. Give it some time (weeks, not minutes or hours, or even days) and see what happens.
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Brandon Dayton, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 498 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
Yup, we've all been through this. This is actually one of the most important skills to learn -- to be okay with your own mind, exactly as it is. All of what you are experiencing is perfectly fine. As you stick with the practice, the doubts will naturally ease up over time. You'll still feel them, but they'll be this thing floating there that you don't need to worry about. It just takes time.

Like Sam is saying, just note them, remember all of this is part of the process and keep going. If you want to be playful and experiment, that is fine too. Noting is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure. It's up to you how and what you choose to note. It doesn't hurt to try zooming in on a single object and seeing how much you can penetrate it, but gently noting is also cool. Try things out and see what your mind does. 
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Jim Smith, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 1038 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
Nav:
Hi I am hoping to get some good advice/affirmation around doubts that I have related to my noting technique.

...

Any inputs would be appreciated emoticon

My opinion is that questions like these arise because people don't understand how noting produces awakening.

It seems to me that if someone understood how noting produced awakening, they would understand how to note to get the desired effect.

For example someone might think that to connect two pieces of wood you need to drive a nail into them with a hammer. But you really need to know more than that, you need to know that you should drive the nail into the wood by putting the pointy end first and hitting the head of the nail with the hammer. Driving the nail in backwards or sideways is not the right way to do it. 

I have tried to ask the question, how does noting produce awakening, and I have never felt the question was answered in a helpful way. So I don't do noting as my main practice. (I understand awakening as the process of letting go of attachments and aversions (including attachments to self) so I practice mostly with emotions - At times I use something like noting just as a way to keep the mind from wandering and getting into or causing trouble.)

My advice is to try to find out how noting produces awakening and then it should be clearer exactly how to note to get the right effect.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 2222 Join Date: 3/1/20 Recent Posts
"My advice is to try to find out how noting produces awakening and then it should be clearer exactly how to note to get the right effect."

By Noting 1-5 matter of fact body sensations/feeling tones/mind states per second for the duration of the sit (45-60 minutes) 2 times a day. No pondering during sitting. If there is pondering about SE, note THINKING, if there is pondering about 3C's note THINKING, if there is doubt note Doubt-Unpleasant. ... etc ...

Its very simple really; noting means "paying attention" to momentary arising-passing expereince. The more practice there is the more there is direct seeing of the dependent origination unfolding, the more there is seeing of This-ness unfolding, the more there is sense of freedom in the seeing of all this and that all this is only ever going to be a tiny infinte small THIS-knowing/seeing/sensing/tasting/hearing/smelling refering back to no one. 

Our mind is very fast at latching/clinging onto experiences. We practice in paying attention without lapse so to develope that attention musscle which with practice becomes more all inclusive, diffused, accepting, compassionate, not-clinging.

There is a "momentum" here. Look at it like turning a wheel and then you stop it and then turn it again and then you stop it again ... emoticon Instead just keep turning that wheel until it reaches so much inertia that it keeps on spinning even if you step away. Keep noting 1-5 experiences per second for the entire session without ANY SORT OF PONDERING (sure there will be pondering arising but NOTE IT)!  Do not stop that wheel of noting. Ponder after the sitting session but not while on the cushion. emoticon 

Best wishes to all! 

EDIT; 
If there is lots of resistance then "use the voice" as Shinzen suggests. I tried this and it works great with all sorts of hindrances! Note in a way you shout out words, very loud so you really hear that voice loud and clear. I did that during my last horrible Re-observation and it payed off. Otherwise I might have just given up (rolled up the mat). 
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Dream Walker, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 1360 Join Date: 1/18/12 Recent Posts
Nav:
Hi I am hoping to get some good advice/affirmation around doubts that I have related to my noting technique.
What noting technique are you talking about, there is a variety.

Nav:
For a while now i seem to have recurring doubt/judgement
Totally normal, stop worring unless you like it.
Nav:
that i am not putting enough effort -
Play with effort, how much effort can you do in one minute? turn it up to 100% then notice what the sensations of effort are- gritting teeth, eyes bugging, muscles clenched, ass squeezing? how is anything more or less effortful in exactly what way? play with it until you find yourself laughing at yourself.
Nav:
that i need to contact the phenomena more deeply, i am not focusing hard enough on the object, etc. etc. 
again, what does contact even mean? light? deep? middle? upsidedown? PLAY with it. This is your meditation and you cant fuck it up. Its not a chore, there is no quiz, just look/hear/feel at stuff and PLAY.

Nav:
I know intuitively that i should just note them as doubts and be accepting towards them, but i just cant seem to shake off that feeling of uncertainty and self-doubt. I am at the stage in practise where just gentle noting at a comfortable pace seems to make more sense than heroic effort or "penetrating the object". But everytime i try to gently focus on an object, i am plagued with self-doubts.
Noting is training wheels to keep you on task, its a great tool when you need it but otherwise dig into a sense door and see if its more or less you, more or less permanent, more satisfactory or not.
Nav:
Is it enough to know what i am experiencing in the moment and move on noting
SEEing, HEARing, FEELing, THINKing. Its useful and easy to keep on task, until you need to make it more complicated because you mastered the training wheels and need more. Is this me? Is this staying? Is this satisfactory?
Nav:
(even if im not sinking into the experience), or do i need to make it a point to focus more intently?

Any inputs would be appreciated emoticon
SINK, FOCUS INTENSLY!!!!!
LOL
Make yourself miserable and maybe get a zen stick to beat yourself up.
Or, stop it and PLAY, ENJOY the sensations and be curious, very very curious as to what is happening.
GRIN
Good luck,
~D
Nav, modified 11 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
Thanks guys some very sound advice and very helpful indeed, especially coming from some of you heavy weights emoticon

I tried reading and re-reading some of the responses before my meditation sessions past couple of days and i have come up with the following notes:

- Make friends with doubt, observe but do not engage under any circumstance. 
- I have to trust my instinct, I have been using some positive CBT, using silent notes "trust your instinct" when doubts present or are too persistent.
- Most niggling doubt still arises in the form of "how much should i focus/lean into sensation vs take a more passive stance" - the answer to which i remind myself that its needs to be balance and will change with moment to moment. 
- I sort of split my session into 2 phases, first part i take a more active focus stance leaning into phenomena, and the latter half i take a more accepting stance and let it play out and use more allowing notes. 
- Also I have been noting this need to optimize every sit, every moment, make it better, tweak it to achieve the perfect balance of effort and acceptance. I tell myself i dont need to be perfect and that the different dials will move up and down through the sit. 

Some of the positive self talk has definitely helped but for now, i will just plow ahead and see how this develops emoticon
Nav, modified 10 Months ago.

RE: Noting Difficulty

Posts: 59 Join Date: 8/10/20 Recent Posts
I have heard a lot of talks/ experienced teachers talk about all phenomena dissolving into vibrations/emptiness.

In my noting practise I have experienced vibrations in the body from time to time, and when I stay with an object for a while I can see subtle nuances/changes but never to the extent of it entirely breaking apart into emptiness/vibrations.

Is this something that is fundamental to the teaching? My main focus is to be aware of whatever phenomena presents itself but this is experienced at a more gross or wholistic level.

Do experienced meditators experience vibrations all the time?