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My Path ( of frustration )

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My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
9/19/18 10:19 AM
Hi all,

I have been practicing a few years and seem stuck, or at least making slow progress ( same place I was years ago maybe). Frustration would summarise where I am at.

I sit 40-50 minutes a day, often I step it up to twice a day in periods where have high motivation or more free time but my frustrations have gotten me to the point where really I sit daily to just keep the routine. I have done some retreats but the progress I have made on these is mostly around learning to relax and not be so tense.

My practice method is a bit of a muddle. When I come to sit the first thing I do is to try relax. I sit, focus on the body sensations and bring my awareness to the present moment. Once I have done this for a few minutes I then begin watching the in and out breath as it happens, mentally noting 'in' and 'out', not focusing on a particular area though I guess I am mostly using the sensations around the mouth. After reading the mind illuminated I learnt here to keep a peripheral awareness around and between the breaths. I think this does help me in not getting distracted. But usually after a few minutes I get lost in thought... I realise I am distracted and come back, first bringing my attention to the body, and then watching the breaths.. after a few minutes the same will happen again, this will go on for a few moments before once again it repeats. 

Over the course of my 45 minute sit, this will reoccur, each time I come back I feel like I am more focussed, like I am spiralling down and getting more and more settled in the moment. By around 40 minutes I am restless and wondering when the alarm will go.

Whenever I practice with the method above, years can go by where i don't really go much further than what I just described. On retreats it sometimes gets better. I can stay with the breath for much longer periods but usually it is with a dullness or boredom... I am not expecting anything to happen and nothing does. it is just the breath going in and out. On one occasion I was aware of the room around me and had a large degree of pleasant sensation. After the sit I felt extremely zoned out and it took maybe 30 minutes or more for me to return to normal. This has only ever happened once though.  

In my home practice I have found if I do something active like body scanning or noting I do not get distracted as much as when just observing the breath. But I have noticed I get mentally tired more quickly and drowsiness sets in. 

I really want to learn noting and have tried many times to get a regular practice going. 
In everyday activity I try it,  such as when walking around and I can do it and it certainly has an effect on my general awareness. in periods where i do noting often during the day (I am not doing it very fast or all the time, but perhaps while walking I will note the contact with the ground of the feet and also reactions to things i see for 5-10minutes, or however long that walk lasts) , the effect of this is that my awareness seems to change, things seem 'more real'.

My problem comes when I try to do noting when during sitting. rather than the relaxed calm sustainable noting when walking (1 note every few seconds), in sitting it becomes more difficult. I use the in and out breath as the anchor, very similar to my breath practice above, except that around the breaths I try to not note anything else that happens, in time to note the breath. Something like this: 'IN. feeling(sensation of sitting). hearing. feeling(air touching face). OUT' , I note the in and out just once, sometimes in a long way such as innnnnnnnn, outtttttt, as the breath is quite slow (Is this correct or should i not it many times slower?) 

As I do this noting practice, I feel like I am hunting for something to note between breaths, if noting a prolonged sensation, I feel I should switch off from it to find something else. I believe this difference is because in my walking meditation I am using vision 'seeing... seeing... seeing...' as the foundation or fallback. With my eyes closed I do not have this and i feel like I am searching around constantly between breaths. As the sit progresses I seem to get weary and the noting slows down and eventually becomes just the exact same as my breath practice, in and out, and perhaps the odd noting such as 'sitting' in between.

That is usually my sitting practice, sometimes just the breath, and going in and out from lost in though -> back to breath. Or I try a bit of noting in there, get a bit tired from it or tense from searching and fall back onto the breath practice.

Sorry if the above does not make sense. But I was hoping someone would have advice?

For the next 6 months I have more time in my day free and I am considering increasing how much I sit to maybe 3-4 45 minute sits. One mental issue making me hesitant from doing this however is that I kind of feel like 'Well is it just going to be 3-4x the frustration if i do this?'. 

I have some questions:

On just home practice can you make significant progress? (it will probably 9-12 months before I can do another retreat), as I read somewhere somebody said most people get path on retreat

How are people managing to note fast?, did they start out slow (1 note per few seconds) and over time gradually increase?. Even just once per second gets me a bit manic, looking around for the next thing as If I have to keep up a tempo of new things to note.

I plan to come back here and post in this thread as things change.

Thank you a lot for helping

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
9/20/18 6:16 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
What you describe is a fairly normal process of meditating, getting lost, coming back, etc. and sometimes years of slow progress is what creates a necessary foundation for practice. Everyone is different. Some people make slow progress in the beginning and fast at the end -- or vice versa. So don't worry too much about the past.

Looking ahead, noting in and out plus other simple notes while watching the breath is a great practice. You can also add some additional notes to help you work on your challenges. For example, if you get lost, make sure you make a note of whatever was occuring during that trance --- was it a pleasurable sensation? a bunch of emotions? a memory? a thought about the future? searching for something to note? a judgement about what was happening? Find a good-enough word or very very short expression for what happened, "remembering" "blissing out" "judging" "planning" "searching" etc, and then return to the in/out of the breath.

When noting becomes difficult -- this is very important -- note what is actually causing the difficulty. Note pain, discomfort, frustration, confusion, dullness, controlling, manipulation, effort, etc. In other words, turn your difficulties into notes. That way even challenges become fuel for noting practice. 

If the difficulty becomes too much, then it is okay to go slow or stop. The point here is not to create even more suffering. The point is to better understand wthe nature of suffering... and the way to do that is to gently go into the experiences that are difficult. Usually we will see that either there is some past fragment of memory or sensation that we still need to digest (basically making peace with things that happen in the past) or there is some resistance or fighting of what is happening. In the latter case, it might be we have a sore butt from sitting but then we make it into an even bigger problem by getting angry or frustrated that we have a sore butt -- and that anger or frustration is much worse than just a little achyiness -- you see what I mean? A lot of unnecessary suffering occurs that way -- through resisting "negative" sensation -- so learning to accept and allow "negative" stuff to simply be is a big part of making progress in reducing suffering.
 
Do not make long Innnnnn oooooout notes to attempt to keep control or to cover up distractions.

It is totally and completely fine to get lost 1000 times during a sit, as long as you come back 1001 times. 

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
9/20/18 8:54 AM as a reply to shargrol.
Thanks for the advice. It has given me a few things to ponder, such as what is it about sitting that I dislike. On my next sit I will investigate the feelings and sensations around this.

One thing I have contemplated today. I have seen time and time again many teachers say that in most cases, people attain Path while on retreats and that very few are able to do this in regular practice. If this is true why do people spend so much time on insight practices out of retreat?. Should I focus more on developing concentration if this is the case?

Thanks

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
9/20/18 2:51 PM as a reply to dullmeditator.
Hi,

What helped me is to be awere if what I expirencing is good or bad in all sense doors.

If Im I indulging in it; maybe thinking about something cool or pleasnt or maybe Im having aversion for being awere that Im lost in thoughts. Its very powerfull seeing these movemnt of aversion.

So you can keep in/out "mantra" and also checking how is your expirence going. Is the breath feeling pleasent? Or it feels tense? Or maybe I cant say it ( neutral )? How are exactly these sensations that I feel in my nose?  Etc

Remember Noting is just a tool, a powerfull one but the basic job is about feeling and observing sensations arrasing and pasing away. We use noting to keep in track and not get lost.

Also is very good to make resolutions at the start of the meditation: "I resolve for this 40 min I will constanly investigate the 3 characteristics that would lead me to the insights for my libration" or..."only for this sitting I will not miss any in breath and out breath"

Its very important to put real effort, curiosty and motivation when you practice. Whisy-whasy meditations for me is the same like whatching T.V, so try to do your best in the very good way!

Sometimes before meditation I like to imagine that Im a cientific snd Im going to my inner lab to do research about ultimate reallity or I imagine that Im buddha and Im going to meditate, how buddha meditate? How he would handle dullness or wandering or desconcentration? This imaginations empower me and I can see inside me my "energy" and "motivation" changing, you can also note this hehe.

Also, before your practice you can listen some audio o read books about meditation or some aspect of it, for exemple you can check "the seven aspects of enlighment"

A nun told me: "meditate as if it was the last time you can." 

Good luck in your practice!

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
9/20/18 10:45 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
David, I know a lot of people who had paths off retreat (including me), but retreats can really help so if someone is prepared (has a solid daily practice) and can (financially/time and a good safe retreat center) then they really should try a retreat. Retreats have been an important part of my practice. 

Noting practice will also develop centering (concentration), so there isn't a strong benefit to switch or only doing concentration.

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/5/18 10:15 PM as a reply to shargrol.
After two weeks of further practice I seem to still be in the same position.

My sit begins. I relax. I observe the breath in and out. making a mental note when I feel it enter around the upper body and making a corrosponding mental note when the breath leaves.

I attempt to note other things such as the feeling of the body on the cushion, a sound outside. whilst ensuring I do not miss an in and out breath. 

I have noticed a connection between the more things I note and the amount of sleepiness that occurs. If I attempt to stay with just the breath and maybe 1 thing between then I do not get so drowzy. If however I try do more and note 1 every few seconds (which I wish to be able to do) then I begin to get drowzy, sleepy. I have noted these things when they occur although it does not help so much in preventing it.

Usually I come back to the breath and it is then I realise I have been off the breath for maybe 3-4 minutes. As I am already back on the breath at that point I just continue noting it and do not note that I left it (as usually I don't realise I was day dreaming until I am already back on the breath)

Over my 45 minute sit I think I spend perhaps 4-5 minutes with the breath, followed by 4-5 off the breath. This does not seem to improve.

Is it possible 45 minutes per day is not enough to make progress? or should I increase this?

I also do not really know what my goal should be. Should I trying to develop access concentration or Jhana first like in MCTB?

I have a great deal of aversion towards sitting. It feels like a chore (I note this sensation too - despite it not really doing anything). I struggle currently just to get 45 minutes in the day and try many different ways of motivating myself. I can at times do more though just through forcing myself to sit.

An issue I seem to face is that all these things such as aversion towards sitting, distraction, drowzyiness ,I do note them, but it doesnt make any difference or help. I will continue to practice but I feel as if I am in a state of zero progress and it is all very dull and pointless



 

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/6/18 6:36 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
It's interesting that you start to get sleepy when you increase the speed of noting, since increasing the speed of noting is exactly what you need to do. Are you able to explore the feeling of sleepiness? Like, where does it occur and what exactly does it feel like? It might sound a little paradoxical, but what happens if you try to increase the clarity and vividness of the sensations of drowsiness? Basically, be on the lookout for the drowsy feelings and make them your object when they arise. Just a little experiment to try.

And I'm with shargrol on off-retreat progress--it was many years into my practice before I have the opportunity to go on retreat. Something else that is very helpful is diligent off-cushion practice during the day.

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/28/18 10:51 PM as a reply to dullmeditator.
i have had opportunity for a last minute retreat for 9 days starting in a few days. 
my retreat has no instruction and is kind of partial work retreat, but in silence and scheduled sits.

I hope to apply myself to this the best I can. I was hoping somebody can help me with setting out my plan.

when not sitting, such as walking around and doing activities, I have a good practice. i stay in the present moment and just observe seeing, feeling and watch. I do not really note but just watch. (I always wondered whether I am supposed to look for the 3c's - which i do not do, instead of i just watch/observe/feel)

when i am sitting however i still have a problem. i jump around in techniques, switching from insight and noting things to just anapansati breath watching.

when I begin to sit i centre myself in the present moment and try put my attention on what is happening right now for a little bit and relax.
as I do this the in and out breathe is noticed, so i note it, 'breathing innnnn'... 'observe feeling of airconditioning blowing on face'... 'observe pressure of body sitting on the cushion'... 'breath going out'... 

i do this for a little bit.. often I begin to forget to look at other things and am either distracted in thought, or i stick with the breath.
often by the end of the sit i am only on the breath and have forgotten to note other things 

My aim is insight rather than samadhi so i often wonder if i am going about things wrong in that i spend so much time just watching the breath going in and out. if i do this too much instead of remembering to note aswell, will i not make progress on insight?

I read a post from shargrol somewhere that people should try note at least one thing between the breaths. is this enough to make progress?

is there a connection between how much i note and progress?, is 1 note per 2 seconds enough?. When I try do more than this a pressure builds up through me trying to find the next to note. this 'trying' is what I believe causes the drowziness i mentioned in my last post. I think it happens because i am trying to find things to note and eventually later in the sit my mental energy is used up and i begin to feel drowzy.

what I would really like to do is nail down a set of key instructions which i can stick to for the 9 days of what i should be doing in my sit.

should i just stick with, watching the breath and note one or two things between?

A lot of questions there but that has been an unloading of the thoughts since my last post

thanks for your time and help

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 5:03 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
Seems like you're really putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Seems to me that your awareness of the three characteristics is strong, and that you might be confusing cosmic unsatisfactoriness--the high degree of variability in your sits; the presence of huge pools of unpleasant and/or dull/neutral sensations; the mind's tendency to respond to same by throwing up resistance and complaint--with some kind of "problem" in your meditation or in yourself as a meditator. 

Maybe you should drop the goal of stream entry or of having a different pattern of experience and/or different or better states than what you routinely experience and, instead, just investigate your relationship to suffering and the ending of suffering. I wonder if there is a way for you to practice with more acceptance, joy and ease? 

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 5:36 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
dullmeditator:
i have had opportunity for a last minute retreat for 9 days starting in a few days. 
my retreat has no instruction and is kind of partial work retreat, but in silence and scheduled sits.

I hope to apply myself to this the best I can. I was hoping somebody can help me with setting out my plan.


Sorry to be very blunt about this, but I do not think you should go on retreat. My opinion is that you are not ready. It might be different if this was a retreat with instructions and lots of opportunity to talk with teachers, but that doesn't sound like what you describe.

Retreats are for when your home practice is solid. If you go on retreat with these kinds of problems, it will likely become much worse, not better.

Again, sorry to be so blunt.

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 6:20 AM as a reply to shargrol.
shargrol:
dullmeditator:
i have had opportunity for a last minute retreat for 9 days starting in a few days. 
my retreat has no instruction and is kind of partial work retreat, but in silence and scheduled sits.

I hope to apply myself to this the best I can. I was hoping somebody can help me with setting out my plan.


Sorry to be very blunt about this, but I do not think you should go on retreat. My opinion is that you are not ready. It might be different if this was a retreat with instructions and lots of opportunity to talk with teachers, but that doesn't sound like what you describe.

Retreats are for when your home practice is solid. If you go on retreat with these kinds of problems, it will likely become much worse, not better.

Again, sorry to be so blunt.

it is okay all feedback is welcome. my posts may make these seem slightly more manic than they are because i am just typing my thoughts that i have had over a few weeks. sometimes when i read it back i too think it sounds slightly unstable.

i have done a number of retreats in the last few years, maybe 6 or 7 of up to 14 days so I feel like I will be okay. as it is a partial work retreat it is not an intense schedule

on the goal of stream entry. it is not really a goal i have. I dont feel like there is a goal to my practice but more a direction or orientation. id like to get it so that my set of instructions or 'what i do' in a sit is orientated in the right direction for progress to happen.

i think the fundamental problem/issue/question in my practice is around samadhi and vipasana. if vipasana is just observing things, being aware of them as they happen. how is samadhi not also vipassana but more focused? . if a person practices samadhi only does insight also happen?

those questions are what drive my "jumping around" of method while sitting. i can get a good degree of peacefulness when just watching the breath, then i think "this maybe only develops concentration so i should note", then I begin noting and then the 'looking for things to note' problem begins or i get distracted, lost in thought, and then a few minutes later i come back to to the breath and it begins again

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 8:01 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
dullmeditator

I begin noting and then the 'looking for things to note' problem begins or i get distracted, lost in thought, and then a few minutes later i come back to to the breath and it begins again

Why is the mind state of looking/investigating a problem? Can't you just note 'looking, investigating'? If frustration or consternation arises because the looking/investigating doesn't appear to be turning up anything other than looking/investigating, can't you then just note frustration, frustration and feel and note the body sensations and feelings that clue you in to the frustration that is happening? 

But why is there frustration? What expectations or imaginings are underneath? Can they be noticed and met with kindness and acceptance?

Getting distracted or lost in thought isn't a problem. If you're intent on doing a noting practice, you can just note 'wandering, wandering' or get more specific ('imagining thought,' 'worrying,' 'remembering') and come back to the primary object, no?

With regard to mixing up techniques in a single sit, why not simply resolve not to do this? At the beginning, you could tell yourself, 'OK, my goals for this next 30 minutes are to relax, allow, enjoy and tune into the sensations of the breath at the nostrils, allowing everything else to be as it is. If the mind wanders, I'll gently come back without judgment. I won't change techniques.' 

OR, 'OK, for the next 30 minutes I'm going to note the rise and fall of the abdomen and pay as much attention to the vividness, clarity and detail of the actual sensations as I can. If the mind wanders, no problem. I'll note 'wandering, wandering' and just gently come back to the rise and fall. If other distractions happen--imagining thought, worrying, doubt, resistance, giddiness, hearing, seeing, touching, feeling, warmth, pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, etc.--I'll just notice them and return, gently. If my mind wanders the entire time, that's not a problem. Whatever happens is fine.'

I don't think you need to worry overmuch about distinctions between samatha and vipassana. 

All of that said, you might consider heeding shargrol's advice and thinking carefully about whether you want to do a nine-day retreat right now. It could be that you need to talk to an experienced teacher and/or a psychotherapist to make sure you're fully in touch with what's going on in your life and practice. Putting pressure on yourself, overstriving and amplifying the volume of your frustration--potentially, over a period of nine days--doesn't sound like a great thing to me. 

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 8:22 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
Tashi Tharpa:
dullmeditator

I begin noting and then the 'looking for things to note' problem begins or i get distracted, lost in thought, and then a few minutes later i come back to to the breath and it begins again

Why is the mind state of looking/investigating a problem? Can't you just note 'looking, investigating'? If frustration or consternation arises because the looking/investigating doesn't appear to be turning up anything other than looking/investigating, can't you then just note frustration, frustration and feel and note the body sensations and feelings that clue you in to the frustration that is happening? 

But why is there frustration? What expectations or imaginings are underneath? Can they be noticed and met with kindness and acceptance?


By "looking for things to note" problem I mean that as I note and try follow the technique, trying to follow the technique becomes a pressure or drive.
The technique I am trying to learn is this 1 per second style noting.

If i describe the process perhaps i can explain it better:

I am sitting.
I feel the air from a nearby fan - i 'observe' it, sometimes with a note or sometimes I just apply awareness to it without a label, just being aware of the sensation.
Whilst my attention is on this sensation a thought/impulse/drive comes up which is like a "ok, what next?, move on" (due to this idea of speed and 1 per second).
I become aware of a hum from the fan, i note hearing, i do this for a few times, before again the the impulse starts up "ok next"..
a kind of search begins as if i am on a timer to look and should not hang around one one thing...
I put my attention onto the sensation of pressure of me on the cushion, and without label note 'feeling'.. and again then the 'ok, next" search begins.

This is perhaps my core question:
Why is noting fast important (many people such as Daniel Ingram seem to mention 1 per second a lot).
Why is it different from slow noting of 1 note every few seconds, staying with things until something just naturally becomes the the next thing of attention, and this fast noting of 1 per second that many talk about? 

The 'making it fast' seems to create a pressure or search, the 'trying to find the next thing' drive happens every each note.

How do people get passed this? Do they note slowly and naturally , and then over time it naturally becomes fast?, or do they just do it over and over until it becomes automatic?

If I could understand this reasoning that people put on the speed of noting, then i think it would give me some insight into the way forward.

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 9:05 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
OK, take all of this with a grain of salt. Just my perspective here. 



By "looking for things to note" problem I mean that as I note and try follow the technique, trying to follow the technique becomes a pressure or drive.

[OK, pay attention to the process of the pressure/drive, the sensations associated with it, and the tendency to see it as a problem]

The technique I am trying to learn is this 1 per second style noting.

If i describe the process perhaps i can explain it better:

I am sitting. 
I feel the air from a nearby fan - i 'observe' it, sometimes with a note or sometimes I just apply awareness to it without a label, just being aware of the sensation.
Whilst my attention is on this sensation a thought/impulse/drive comes up which is like a "ok, what next?, move on" (due to this idea of speed and 1 per second).

[OK, it sounds like what's happening is sensory input, noting of the sensory input and then a mental reaction ('anticipation, anticipation,' 'wanting to move on,' 'uncertainty,' 'curiosity'), so could you just note that stuff and see that the mental reaction is no less worthy of investigation/recognition than the original sensory input?]


I become aware of a hum from the fan, i note hearing, i do this for a few times, before again the the impulse starts up "ok next".. 

[rinse and repeat, as above]

a kind of search begins ['looking, investigating']

as if i am on a timer to look and should not hang around one one thing... ['pressure, pressure,' 'expectations,' 'uncertainty,' 'wanting to do it right']

I put my attention onto the sensation of pressure of me on the cushion, and without label note 'feeling'.. and again then the 'ok, next" search begins.

This is perhaps my core question:
Why is noting fast important (many people such as Daniel Ingram seem to mention 1 per second a lot).

[Maybe try just noting whatever is center stage. Start with this and don't worry about the pace. If the pace of noting speeds up to the point where you feel you have to drop the verbal labels, fine. If it never speeds up, assume that this is OK and that you don't have to change your experience or force it to accelerate. Relax and actually enjoy the truth that you can only note one thing at a time and that you're under no pressure to note faster and faster.]
 
Why is it different from slow noting of 1 note every few seconds, staying with things until something just naturally becomes the the next thing of attention, and this fast noting of 1 per second that many talk about? 

[I don't think there's anything wrong this. If you are knowing your experience in the present moment, moment by moment, that's great.] 

The 'making it fast' seems to create a pressure or search, the 'trying to find the next thing' drive happens every each note.

[Maybe try just noting at the pace that seems workable for you, actually using verbal labels but with most of your attention on the base sensate phenomena, and then when it feels right just drop the clunky, verbal labels and silently notice phenomena with more and more vividness, clarity and detail; you might find that the 'speed' of noting is more about the granularity that comes from paying closer attention in this way and isn't something you have to gin up yourself]

How do people get passed this? Do they note slowly and naturally , and then over time it naturally becomes fast?, or do they just do it over and over until it becomes automatic?

[I think it's the former, but I'm not a particularly fast noter right now. I have had experiences, after noting continuously once per second for a few hours, of everything speeding up in a dramatic way--but I did nothing to increase this speed in terms of the exercise of will.]

If I could understand this reasoning that people put on the speed of noting, then i think it would give me some insight into the way forward.

[Please take my suggestions only as possibilities; I'm not claiming to be a noting expert, just sharing my perspective; others may disagree]

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 10:00 AM as a reply to Tashi Tharpa.
thanks for the feedback

yes, i do try and note the 'pressure/drive' which builds up but it is difficult because it is as if the build up is in the very core of the minds functioning and it is like a crash occurs.

i note, it builds up, i note, it builds up, then the 'build up'/drive/pressure to find something becomes strong enough that the awareness of this becomes the focus of the mind and it like a crash happens at that point. like the mind processes freeze for a moment, or gets stuck. then it unfreezes after a second or so.

i will maybe try a sit where i just stick on this and attempt to observe the drive/buildup/pressure to search thoughts and maybe if i persist enough i will be able to break it down and observe it without the freeze or crash happening

RE: My Path ( of frustration )
Answer
10/29/18 10:38 AM as a reply to dullmeditator.
dullmeditator:
thanks for the feedback

yes, i do try and note the 'pressure/drive' which builds up but it is difficult because it is as if the build up is in the very core of the minds functioning and it is like a crash occurs.

i note, it builds up, i note, it builds up, then the 'build up'/drive/pressure to find something becomes strong enough that the awareness of this becomes the focus of the mind and it like a crash happens at that point. like the mind processes freeze for a moment, or gets stuck. then it unfreezes after a second or so.

i will maybe try a sit where i just stick on this and attempt to observe the drive/buildup/pressure to search thoughts and maybe if i persist enough i will be able to break it down and observe it without the freeze or crash happening
What's wrong with the freeze/crash? The freeze/crash is a pattern of sensate phenomena involving the cessation/change of other sensate phenomena, yes? The knowing of it has also been occurring--otherwise, there would have been no description of it in your account. You're also knowing the ending of it! 

Sensate phenomena, the knowing of it and the knowing of the ending of it. Sounds pretty good to me.

So the freeze/crash, the buildup/pressure and sense of 'what next?', the perceived pace of the noting and the perceived level of progress all should be different than they are? Sounds like aversion to me--very doable for you to notice the thoughts, mind states and feelings that go into all of that, given the subtlety of stuff you're already knowing and describing.