Noticing and labeling experience

 

Notice and labeling our experience is more used in mainstream psychology these days, and it’s also a traditional practice in Buddhism.

Here is the general practice:

Notice what’s here. And give it a label.

This label can be very basic: A thought, sensation, sound, sight, taste, smell.

Or it can go a little further in interpreting what it is: A man, woman, sadness, words, mental images, discomfort, and so on.

As an emergency measure to help us deal with discomfort and distress, we can approach it in a few different ways, and a combination can be most effective.

Notice the emotions. Label the emotion(s). Anger. Sadness. Joy. Elation. 

Notice the overall experience. Label it. Overwhelm. Compulsion. Reactivity. Distress. 

Notice the thoughts, the mental words and images. Words. Mental images.

We can do it for a set period of time, perhaps once or twice a day. This functions as a laboratory and testing ground so we become more familiar with how to do it and what it does for us. Noticing and labeling become more familiar to us, and that makes it easier to bring it into daily life.

In daily life, we can do it specifically when we notice an experience that’s stressful, uncomfortable, or distressing to us. Sadness. Anger. Compulsion. Words. Mental images.

This creates a distance to whatever we notice, and label. And that makes it easier to relate to it more intentionally and a little more dispassionately.

It goes from an I to an it. From subject to object. From what I am to something that’s here.

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Initial notes…..

  • Labeling experience
    • part of some types of Buddhist practice
    • any experience
      • can do over a set period of time
        • as a laboratory + to get into the habit
      • or can do specifically with stressful/uncomfortable/distressing experience
    • from I to it
      • goes from subject to object
      • from what I am to something that’s here
      • creates a distance to it
    • ….

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Notice and labeling our experience is part of some types of Buddhist practice, and it’s being used more in psychology these days as well.

We can do it for a set period of time as a laboratory and to get familiar with it.

Or we can do it specifically when we notice an experience – a thought, sensation, emotion – that’s stressful, uncomfortable, or distressing to us.

This helps whatever is noticed and labeled go from an I to an it. It goes from what I am to something that’s here. That creates a distance to it. And that makes it easier to relate to it more intentionally.

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