Subtle Distractions and Gross Dullness (with transcript)

Q&A: Do I still label the thoughts when I notice subtle distractions?

Master Culadasa gives tips for dealing with subtle distractions at the fourth meditation level.

Student:  I'm pretty sure that I'm right now at the fourth level, in the ten stages, but what I haven't seen is I haven't seen any kind of sleepiness.

Culadasa: You haven't had any sleepiness?

Student: No.

Culadasa: Okay.

Student: But I can stay on the meditation object, very often there's gross distraction, but the awareness of the sensation is always there. But the experience of sleepiness has not come.

Culadasa: Okay, well, don't complain. *Laughter* Well, that's really good. I'm glad you hadn't had to deal with sleepiness yet. And usually, it depends on the individual, some people are more prone to it, it's a bigger problem than others. And so maybe you'll be really lucky and it'll be just a mental kind of problem. But, it tends... the stronger your concentration and the more focused you become, then the more likely it is to start to arise and start being a problem. But, until it shows up, just be grateful you don't have to deal with it yet.

Student: I have another question in relation to that; when there is subtle distraction, so the thoughts are in the periphery, do you still note, do you still label what's going on?

Culadasa: No. There shouldn't be any need to, and it would end up making your mind quite busy. So you just let them be there. And in the stage you're at what you want to do is always be bringing the focus back to the meditation object, and what will really help you in that is if you're aware of the presence of these distractions and you're aware of the ways that they can insinuate themselves into the focal point of your awareness. And the more aware of that that you become, the easier it is to keep it from happening. But you shouldn't really need to note anything in particular.

The only time would be... sometimes you'll have something on your mind. And then it'll just be there. You'll keep having this little conversation in your mind about it, or something like that, or memories, images; things like that. So, when that happens a lot, then you can take note of it. Even more than that, you can just take a moment to just put your mind on it and say, "okay, I know this is there", and just form the intention to set it aside, or to leave it alone.

Student: And when the distraction is gross, do you then note at this point?

Culadasa: If it feels like it's going to help you. But you should start moving away from needing to do much of a verbal nature at this point. But if you feel like it's helpful don't hesitate to note it.

Added at Sept. 26, 2020
Original file name distract04mar10.mp3

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