Insight Meditation Workshop
by Ven. Pannyavaro
Technique of Mental Noting
A useful device to support meditative attention is naming or labelling the various objects during the observation of your own body and mind. Used judiciously, it is a very useful tool to assist in focusing and sustaining the attention.
The noting is done by repeatedly making a mental note of whatever arises in your body/mind experience. For example, ‘hearing, hearing’, ‘thinking, thinking’, ‘touching, touching’, etc. And when focused on the abdominal movement, note ‘rising, rising’ and ‘falling, falling’. This is a powerful aid to help establish the attention, especially at the beginning of the practice, when it is necessary to systematically note as much as possible to stabilise the attention. Otherwise, you are likely to get lost in unnoticed wanderings with long periods of inattention.
The noting practice can be combined with the practice of orientating to the six Sense-Doors, by the naming of the physical and mental objects as they arise. It needs to be pointed out here that during mental noting, you must not analyse, interfere or identify with what is being observed (e.g. just note ‘thinking, thinking’ rather than ‘I am thinking, it is me that is thinking’). The exact words used in noting aren’t important – it’s just naming or labelling the experience to support the attention. In order that the noting does not become mechanical, keep in mind that the noting is just a tool to assist the mind in connecting with the direct experience which is always unique and fresh.
Two Minute Insight Meditation Exercise
Now is a good time to try applying the meditation technique as explained above — for 2 minutes only!
Turn off your computer monitor, sit quietly with eyes closed and begin to note the rising and falling of the abdomen or any other mental and physical phenomena arising at one of the six sense-doors.