Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

On the cultivation of insight/wisdom
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ganegaar
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Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby ganegaar » Mon Jan 09, 2017 4:40 am

Hello again my good friends!,
I am trying to practice sati-sampajjanno as per satipattana sutta. Now, the following scenario I think should be pretty common.
Scenario:
Suppose you have a day to day "task", (take the most thought consuming task of the day! - from a simple one like what's for dinner; to something you have to solve at work; or a mathematical problem you did not understand; or planning a extension to your house! or planing a daana, etc).
While trying to sleep, walking, sitting, traveling, when ever the mind does not require deep attention to something else, the mind just latches into this task, and it feels almost 90% of thought processes revolves around this task. So, when you practice sati-samppajjanno, you would have surely realized that big major part of "thought runs" involves this current task at hand.
And usually these thoughts revolving around same task, recurring thoughts, are non-productive, but occasionally during these thought runs, good ideas props up!, the mathematical issues get solved!. So, they are not entirely useless either!.

So I need advice!.
What shall we do about these "thought runs" revolving around the same task?
- one strategy is, "I know i am thinking, but its not anything bad, let me allow it", and soon might get lost in the thought run, until next moment awareness kicks in and I realize "I have being thinking!".
- second strategy is, "I know i am thinking, but i have being beating around the topic so long, lets brake off".

But second strategy needs (at times) very deep "shake off from current thought run", which makes the mind to rebel like a "child taken out from his play ground" !

So, I would like to know, in these "thought runs", Advice from sutta's, (from your personal experience) practical strategies you have used, and good practical advice regarding this.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

JohnK
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby JohnK » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:01 am

"What shall we do about these "thought runs" revolving around the same task?
- one strategy is, "I know i am thinking, but its not anything bad, let me allow it", and soon might get lost in the thought run, until next moment awareness kicks in and I realize "I have being thinking!".
- second strategy is, "I know i am thinking, but i have being beating around the topic so long, lets brake off".

But second strategy needs (at times) very deep "shake off", which makes the mind to rebel like a "child taken out from his play ground"

Strategy 1 sounds like "let me allow myself to be lost in the thinking " -- does not seem like a good idea. One may be lost plenty before seeing and letting go -- so any of the "not entirely bad" will have plenty chance to happen before awareness kicks in.
Strategy 2 needs to be done w/o aversion (no "break off" no rebellion), just seeing and returning to the task at hand (possibly checking in with the breath). A possible "mantra" is "not right now" as that does not have aversion to the thinking just reminds one that this is not the moment to engage in that. No grasping, no aversion.
Good luck!
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics."
(AN 2: iv, 6, abridged)

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Bhikkhu Pesala
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jan 09, 2017 6:27 am

Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking may be helpful.

I guess that most planning is connected with attachment, and leads to our own affliction. If we reflect, "Do I really need to do this?" the answer will often be, "No. It's neither essential, nor useful." If it has a positive benefit, and needs to be done — like washing clothes or cooking lunch — how much thought does it really need? Once you have decided that it needs to be done, just do it, or stop thinking about it until the right time arrives.
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ganegaar
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby ganegaar » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:14 am

Excellent advice! thank you all,
Yes, I fully agree, strategy one is not good.
Strategy 2 needs to be done w/o aversion

So, it is "aversion" that makes the mind to rebel when trying to brake off, that is something i really missed to realize.
I guess, the "aversion" is because habbit pattern brake, resistance to change. I will be mindful of that!.

Again excellent advice from Bhikku Pesala, and a very timely sutta reference for me "Dvedhavitakka Sutta".
I guess that most planning is connected with attachment, and leads to our own affliction. If we reflect, "Do I really need to do this?" the answer will often be, "No. It's neither essential, nor useful."


So, it is an "attachement" that makes the mind to go around again and again into it. I certainly really missed to realize that too!. Certainly I should also be mindful of that too.

I wonder what makes the mind "attached" to this thinking, why does the mind rejoice in it? why does the mind finds so comforting on these? Is it connected to some kind of "moha"? some kind of "wrong view" ? but, what type of moha is that? what type of wrong veiw in that?

I am writing after a few minutes after i had above questions on moha and wrong view, it is little funny, how i got hooked into the very thing i am trying to brake off from :), So, I do not really need answers to that questions on moha and wrong view, the advice I have already from my 'kalyana mitta' is strong enough for me to practice!.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

JohnK
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby JohnK » Mon Jan 09, 2017 3:09 pm

ganegaar wrote:So, it is an "attachement" that makes the mind to go around again and again into it. I certainly really missed to realize that too!. Certainly I should also be mindful of that too.

I wonder what makes the mind "attached" to this thinking...

My sense of it is that one is attached to a vision of a certain outcome (getting what one wants or avoiding what one doesn't want), so one attempts to control things to assure a desired outcome, so one plans compulsively [edit: obsessively is probably the right word] rather than efficiently. For me, I think fear underlies this; a concern that things (or "I") will not be "okay" unless I think through every possible contingency and assure the desired outcome -- and for me that fear often has to do with public embarrassment [or letting someone down or having an undeniable imperfection]. Sure, one can over think and be reasonably successful in ensuring the desired outcome (of a specific situation), but look at how much life is missed doing it -- having a real sense of that (vs. intellectual) can help break the pattern a bit. However, I think it really boils down to coming to know that "things will be okay" even if one does not control things. That gets down to practicing enough to know that one has some ability to have equanimity regardless of outcomes. For me, getting what is desired is ultimately about being "okay" -- if I know I will be okay regardless of outcome (equanimity), then I can stop being compulsive about thinking/planning/controlling. Regardless of outcome, one can let go of some immediate displeasure (if there is any) and return to the "okay" that is not dependent on conditions. Increasing confidence in access to that relieves the pressure and the need to over-plan.
Just my take on it -- your situation may be different.

Edit: perhaps more simply, the attachment is to thinking itself: thinking is me/mine; it delights me; it shows me how clever I am; it protects me; it makes me believe I'm solid and holding it together; better keep doing it! ;)
"Why is it, Master Kaccana, that ascetics fight with ascetics?"
"It is, brahmin, because of attachment to views, adherence to views, fixation on views, addiction to views, obsession with views, holding firmly to views that ascetics fight with ascetics."
(AN 2: iv, 6, abridged)

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ganegaar
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby ganegaar » Tue Jan 10, 2017 7:51 am

Thank you very much, you are spoton here:
perhaps more simply, the attachment is to thinking itself: thinking is me/mine; it delights me; it shows me how clever I am; it protects me; it makes me believe I'm solid and holding it together; better keep doing it!


This I think what makes me attached to it, some kind of a ego thing!. Some kind of a "I am the guy" thing!. :) what a shame! :), I should be very mindful of it!.

By the way,
"not right now"
and
Do I really need to do this?
is extremely helpful, thank you all, I could see a improvement immediately when i think from these lines.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

R1111
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby R1111 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:51 am

i think you can note whatever u feel like at that time and be quick to note how you feel about it. Does it bother you - Bothered, Are you worried- Worried, Do you like/ Dislike, Do you want "liberation" from it- Wanting etc.
IE: Thinking -> Concerned /Disliking

Also if you are judging the thoughts as skillful/unskillful you should note that as judging or knowing, knowing is a particularly useful one, note as you become aware. Doubt can come up alot during the training aswell.

You can also note "planning" if you are planning something or just thinking. You can be as specific as you want with goal of non grasping in mind, ie note "seeing" if you are imagining things or be more specific ie noting actions of mental fabrications, ie you are imagining yourself flyng, you can note flying or note imagining or even thinking in some cases will be perfectly fine.

I usually note 1-3 times.
please quote me if adressing my posts, otherwise i may not see it. thanks.

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ganegaar
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby ganegaar » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:13 am

Thank you.

you can note whatever u feel


Not sure I understood you correctly here though :(, what exactly is "note" here?, is it mental labelling?
but as soon as i lable, i am not exactly in the present moment, is it not better to be just aware without labelling (if that is what you meant) ?

The ability to break off from a thought run do require effort, and when this effort is put forth, i am no longer in awareness of present moment, but there is some kind of insight involved in the "breaking off" from "thought run". As pointed out already in this thread by other friends, I can reflect upon the task being "not helpful" and see my ego (or whatever that is!) fueling it, and also see how i get attached to thinking.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

R1111
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby R1111 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:39 am

I am talking about and advocating mental labelling. I train in Mahasi tradition, in this tradition making mental notes is strongly adviced. I dont know any one person personally who has had good results without it although i know a person who prefers to mix between noting and just awareness. I belive noting doesnt have any drawbacks as technique is perfected.

It is important to understand that in theory a phenomena cant arise in the same moment as awareness. Both can be said to arise due to conditions and are single moments that exist in a vacuum. IE one is experiencing seemingly consistent period of anger, say 5 minutes one is angry and becomes aware of it for a period of time whilst experiencing said anger. What happens here is arising of anger many times and arising of satti in between.

That is why mindful moments are wholesome, because they are moments of clear thought and are not anger, not bound up with delusion. Those rewire us. Moments, as building blocks of reality, are fleeting and we dont have to strive to catch them all. IE: When overcome by anger, one experiences sensations, after comes intention to make a mental note, then there arises noting, here we dont have to try and note/catch everything (sensation, reaction, intention to note, noting, and noting/hearing(inner voice) the noting) that is not the point, mere anger or disliking is enough in this case. Although one should go ahead and note not too much and not too little, IE same example as anger a more advanced meditation would be comfortably noting Anger/Disliking along with any prominent phenomena that he becomes aware of.
Last edited by R1111 on Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
please quote me if adressing my posts, otherwise i may not see it. thanks.

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ganegaar
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Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby ganegaar » Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:52 am

R1111 wrote:I am talking about and advocating mental labelling. I train in Mahasi tradition,


Thank you, in fact I looked it up and was about to ask whether its Mahasi tradition.
No, I have not tried this before, certainly it sounds a good thing, but I should read/learn it a bit.

From the little I read about the mental labeling practice, If i have not misunderstood, the labelling is kind of "starter" to kick start, and then once mindfulness is established to drop the labelling gratually. i.e. as the awareness becomes continous, it looks like it is adviced to drop the labelling and just be aware, or have i misunderstood?

As at now, when i try to lable, it really feels like its "getting in the way" of "being aware". Mahasi tradition is a well respected method, followed by many people who are definitely advanced than me, so I am probably doing something wrong here, or may be this is not the right time for me to practice it.
Sīlepatiṭṭhāya naro sapañño, cittaṃ paññañca bhāvayaṃ;
Ātāpī nipako bhikkhu, so imaṃ vijaṭaye jaṭanti.

R1111
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Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2015 4:17 am

Re: Sati-sampajjanno - Practical advice on breaking away from thought runs

Postby R1111 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 12:05 pm

My personal understanding is that arahants probably dont note and that everyone else probably should, i think one would be missing out on alot by not doing it. It just developes alot of good qualities.

So in a way its true that one gives up noting as one advances, but i think we should be conservative in our interpretation of this statement (advanced being Arahant or Anagami perhaps). Afaik there is no black on white comment from Buddha on this but i do know of evidence for making the notes as in "one knows that he is walking when he is walking", i think most logical interpretation is that knowing of that he is walking arises when one is walking and that there are not that many ways to go about it in practise. I dont know much more technical details, but i think its meant to be a simple teaching.
please quote me if adressing my posts, otherwise i may not see it. thanks.


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