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Using See-Hear-Feel: Focusing on mental images is like channel surfing

I picked up Shinzen Young's Science of Enlightenment (based on Daniel's recommendations) and eventually found my way to his See-Hear-Feel manual. Both of these were mind opening and I feel like it's changed my practice and view pretty significantly (I had only been working on samatha before for one). At one point, perhaps it's in one of his videos, Shinzen mentions focusing on your mental image space if there isn't any obvious mental image and noticing activations there. When I've tried this the last few times, after about a minute, I start seeing fleeting images rushing in and out of existence really quickly, as if I were watching a parade in fast-forward. I do my best to note everything, and these images become clearer as I progress, but nothing lasts more than a second and they just seem to get faster and crazier. Focusing on the non obvious mental images or this image space has been really difficult and I'm currently not struggling with any of the other techniques nearly as much.

Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

Focusing on the non obvious mental images or this image space has been really difficult and I'm currently not struggling with any of the other techniques nearly as much. 

On the contrary, it sounds to me like your succeeding with the technique.  Although I am not familiar with the specific portion of Shinzen's instructions you describe, trying to notice subtle whisps of any sense door is probably meant to trigger rapid fleeting 'noticings' that would be faster than the speed of mental labels.  At these times you may want to allow things to proceed at a fast rate, until they exhaust their usefulness, and then switch back to noting.  Intuition (intellect+instinct) can also be useful for finding the right times to switch back and forth.

Thanks. I think I may be going over my head at this stage of my concentration / noting practice. I'll try to do more noting and spend less time looking at the flurry of subconscious images if I can.

Hi Lowk

I wouldn't even worry about whether you are over your head so much as just kind of being open to the idea that some areas of sensory experience are going to be more slippery, fuzzy, confounding to get clarity on than others.   I've had certain areas of sensory exploration seem for a time almost opaque for me while others seemed immediately penetrable.  In the end, with time i could see that i had certain kinds of fixed ideas or kinds of unwillingness  - even attachments - which made it harder to open more to different areas, just based on what my particular person/personality brought to the exploration. Could be other factors you bring to it etc.  In time they'll all open out in their own ways. 

Maybe more noting will bring clarity or stability, but if it doesn't right away,  for now you could just let those areas be slippery or confusing or opaque, and keep doing whatever techniques you choose without needing a unified level of clarity or comfort as much as possible.

Shinzen's approach for me, really hitting all the areas of experience systematically, was very good at pointing out my "weak spots" which here were areas of sense experience where i had a lot kind of personally invested/tied up in them (external sounds, almost nothing but external images, i had a lot etc.).  This in the end proved very helpful to see, but at times i ffelt i just "couldn't do" certain areas well.


Thanks Lady Frog!
Also, I found Shinzen's answer to my question in one of his documents and both your answers seem to be on point.

I'm pasting the Q&A below and here's the link to the full document.

Q12: When I focus on Image, I get a homogeneous rapid-fire sequence of risings and passings. They come much too fast and furious to note and penetrate individually. If I were to try to labeleachone,I’dsoundlikeamachinegun.What do I do?

A: This type of phenomena can happen in any domain, but it’s particularly common in Image Space and Talk Space. So, let me answer generically. Let X stand for whatever the rapid activity is. Just note “X, gone” in the usual leisurely pace to acknowledge that you are continuously detecting both activation and vanishing. Don’t try to label each individual activation or vanishing. Rather just soak into the overall field. In this case the labels are just reminding you what you’re focusing on. You are sort of labeling the average experience rather than each individual phenomenon.