A brief guide on how to get started
1. Every object encountered during one sitting meditation should be described in terms of:
Report the objects encountered in a chronological manner starting with primary object, i.e. the rising movement and falling movement of the abdomen.
For example: "The rising of the abdomen occurred. I noted it as 'rising' and I observed stretching, pressure, tightness." "The falling of the abdomen occurred. I noted it as 'falling' and I observed relaxation, decreasing tension."
2. Describe how concurrent the knowing of the object was and how continuously you could observe it.
For example: "The knowing came only after the arising was finished and I could only observe 1 or 2 risings and fallings before the mind wandered off." Or "The knowing of the object occurred at the very moment of it's arising and duration and I could observed the rising and falling continuously for 20 to 30 times before wandering of."
It is most important to describe the primary objects in clear, simple, precise language in all the accurate detail you have observed. Only after that should you go on to report secondary objects noted and clearly known in the sitting.
3. Describe secondary objects clearly observed and noted during sitting meditation.
For example: "bodily sensations: pain, itch,…. Thoughts and ideas, wandering mind, planning, remembering,… mental states: anger, pride, happiness, etc.
Please relate the following information for each object described:
- (a) The occurrence of the object
- (b) What you did. How you noted it
- (c) What you observed
- (d) What happened to the object
- (e) What you did next
- (f) What you observed
- (g) What happened
- (h) What did you next
- (i) The mind wandered off the object
- eg. "pain arose in the knee"
- eg. I noted as "pain, pain"
- eg. I observed stabbing pain.
- eg. The stabbing changed to hard pain.
- eg. I noted it as 'hard, hard.'
- eg. I observed slow pulsating hardness.
- eg. as I noted it, it decreased.
- eg. I went back to note rising and falling
- eg. At first I didn't notice it but when I did, I noted it as 'wandering' and it stopped. I then went back to observe the rising and falling.
4. You should report your entire process with each secondary object. After reporting on sitting, you may report on walking meditation, again, first describing the primary objects: lifting, moving, placing of the foot
eg. "During walking I lifted the foot, noted lifting, and observed X, Y, Z…
Moving the foot forward, I noted 'moving' and observed A, B, C.
When placing the foot down, I noted 'placing' and observed L, M, N.
I was able to note continuously for 10-15 steps before the mind wandered off or I was distracted by sights and sounds."
Secondary objects may then be reported in their entire process.
- (a) When the mind wandered off, I was aware of it immediately
- (b) I noted 'wandering', the thought slowly faded from my mind and
- (c) Disappeared, and I returned to observe the lifting, moving and placing.
This format for describing meditation experiences has proven extremely helpful for many yogis. It orients the mind to staying on the meditation track through the unfolding of the entire range of what may be happening in our minds and bodies.
Whatever you experience in practice can be included in your report, whether it is happy concentrated states of mind, periods of difficult emotions or thoughts or strong hindrances. The greatest benefit of this particular way of describing your meditation is that it helps to focus mindfulness directly on the experience rather than getting lost in discursive thinking about what is happening. This facilitates communication in the report, and deeply strengthens awareness, clarity and understanding in the meditation.