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Focus Out in Daily Life?

Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/9/13 8:46 AM
I just wondered if any of you guys had any experience of just using Shinzen's Focus Out (noting Touch, Sight, Sound) at every moment (you remember to do so) in daily life.

Would there be a better, more 'complete' noting vocabulary to adopt?

Do you think it would be possible to make progress along the paths doing this relentlessly for like 5-6 hours a day? Every time you get up from your desk in an undemanding job? And not even doing any sitting in the dark or coming close to perceiving the subtle impermanence of vibrations at 100 mph etc?

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/9/13 11:46 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
No need to adopt a more complete vocabulary.

The point with the focus out stuff, I think, is to get you more in touch with your 1st person sensory perception of reality.

This is important because all other stuff is a subset of your 1st person sensory perception of reality. I don't know if it will help with the fast noting nana's etc.

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/10/13 2:18 AM as a reply to (D Z) Dhru Val.
I do this without labels. It's great for walking, doing relatively mundane tasks etc. In fact, i have my wife doing this when she walks our dog in the evening as her only meditation practice and she loves it emoticon

You can also cycle through touch, sight, sound which adds a little structure to the practice. I've found it really helpful.

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/16/13 12:11 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
My first vipassana experience was something like that;I had no clue about buddhism, meditation, sitting in strange flower-like positions and whatever, but I did relentlessly and with great effort (without noting) what Shinzen Young would call the outer way, so at every given moment I would focus on body, sounds and images all at once; after two weeks I hit the A&P, began reading, and sitting, and looking for vibrations and then things changed, but that was for sure an experiment that worked very well...

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/20/13 1:29 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Robin Woods:
Would there be a better, more 'complete' noting vocabulary to adopt?

Do you think it would be possible to make progress along the paths doing this relentlessly for like 5-6 hours a day?


The most complete noting vocabulary (so complete that it isn't normally considered noting vocabulary) would be the natural language in which people narrate their experience to themselves in their stream of thought. This of course passes without notice and isn't considered "practice" -- on the contrary, in many circles, it is considered part of the problem to be overcome. The power of Shinzen's closed vocabulary is that it utterly constrains one to be present to "insight" rather than "content". Every conscious experience consists of an object and an activity. Most people, most of the time, are perfectly aware of their objects but only dimly or peripherally aware of the experiential activity. If you were to train yourself to narrate your stream of experience to yourself using, say, only the nine words "Touch, Sight, Sound, Feel, Image, Talk, Rest, Flow, and Gone" you would thereby constrain yourself to return over and over and over again to the experiential activity, letting the objects (the "content") of your experience take care of itself. It is hard to do this "on purpose", willfully, for hour after hour throughout the activities of daily life. But is is not that hard to do enough formal practice that the "habit" of being consciously present to this aspect of your stream of sensory experience -- which, as it turns out, is what makes it conscious -- remains increasingly available to you more or less continuously in real time, supplemented with the occasional nudge or burst of "formal practice" for a second or three, hundreds of time throughout the day, whenever it occurs to you. As that becomes true, at some point, the set-point kind of shifts and eventually a figure-ground reversal occurs, and perhaps paradoxically a certain truth becomes plainly obvious: on the one hand, "I" am doing my experience -- it is my activity that is at work here; on the other hand, there is no "I", just a a stream of (apparently) "my" experience. That, I believe, amounts to progress on the paths as this and related basic truths become self-evident and immediately available in real time.

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
9/11/13 11:48 AM as a reply to Tarver .
 Tarver :
If you were to train yourself to narrate your stream of experience to yourself using, say, only the nine words "Touch, Sight, Sound, Feel, Image, Talk, Rest, Flow, and Gone" you would thereby constrain yourself to return over and over and over again to the experiential activity, letting the objects (the "content") of your experience take care of itself.


Has Shinzen gone back to Touch, Sight Sound, Feel, Image, Talk instead of See In/Out, Hear In/Out, Feel In/Out?

I actually like the old method better. Saying two words slows me down. Sometimes I'll just say "See, Hear, Feel" since it's pretty obvious whether it's in or out.

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
9/11/13 2:39 PM as a reply to Rob Wynge.
Rob Wynge:
Has Shinzen gone back to Touch, Sight, Sound, Feel, Image, Talk instead of See In/Out, Hear In/Out, Feel In/Out?

Shinzen has not, but I have... sort of. I actually teach both vocabularies because they are useful for different things. Moreover, there is a significant corpus of extant videos, CD's, and texts that use the old vocabulary. Technically, within the current formulation of Basic Mindfulness, the old vocabulary is a "custom labels" option.
Rob Wynge:
I actually like the old method better. Saying two words slows me down. Sometimes I'll just say "See, Hear, Feel" since it's pretty obvious whether it's in or out.

You are not alone. Although "slowing you down" is definitely an issue, I believe there is a deeper and even more significant issue. The compound vocabulary is better (I think) for discussing and teaching the practice, because speaking and thinking in "sentences" gives rise to understanding, and the compound labels are like sentences with a verb and an object. The single-word vocabulary is (again, I think) better for doing the practice, because pointing and naming clarifies perception. Of course, it is hard to get someone to do something unusual like vipassana unless they first understand clearly enough what they are supposed to do.

Thanks for mentioning this. I am collecting case reports exactly such as this.

RE: Focus Out in Daily Life?
Answer
8/20/13 1:17 PM as a reply to Robin Woods.
Robin,

I have some personal experience in this area. I enjoy Shinzen Young's teachings, but I generally follow Mahasi Sayadaw's teachings more 'to the letter'. If you look up Mahasi Sayadaw's books, (i think the key one is 'practical insight meditation' and it is on Google books for free), he gives some very specific instructions about exactly how to note. Once you spend a little time with Mahasi's instructions in formal sittings, trying to follow them precisely, you can try doing that style of intensive noting in daily tasks.

In my experience, it took time to be able to note very well at all, in daily tasks. For instance, walking down a busy street is still a challenge, and it is partly about sense restraint in those situations. You can just experiment with these and find what works. If you are doing it appropriately and well, given your skill level at that time, then it can feel fairly liberating and restful.

Note - I see Mahasi's instructions as being very compatible with this aspect of Shinzen's teachings. However, I don't use the 'In' and 'Out' labels as does Shinzen, I'd say 'Imagining, Recalling' for 'In', etc. I prefer the more exact labels, as I feel like my attention is 'sharper' when i note very specifically.

I am not enough of an authority to say exactly how daily life noting (not on retreat) can lead to progress on the path. For me, daily life noting can be very helpful alongside my sitting practice. A while ago, I felt that noting in a few daily tasks helped advance me up to A&P. Take that with a grain of salt though - who knows.

*And as long as I am not over-exerting myself in daily life, trying to note everything, I find that periods of strong mindfulness during the day can help me be more calm and follow the precepts better. So I think that is very important as well. If you aren't driving youself nuts trying to do too much at once, you can help fix up your lifestyle to be more calm and mindful. This all goes hand in hand with trying to be ethical in the first place, as well.

Another suggestion, try to pick mundane tasks. As you already suggested. I will frequently do noting when walking to/from the bus, or if I am doing a very routine workout at the gym.

Hope this was helpful. Again, try not to take on too much. Sometimes I would get worn out or feel a bit 'spacey' if I was overdoing it. You need to find the right times to practice this, in my experience, and work up. Make sure you aren't just falling into automatic noting of things, when your attention is really wandering off somewhere else.

Mike