The Name Game: Letting go of Labels in Vipassana Meditation

The intellect belonging to our rational mind is designed to keep us safe and out of harm’s way as we navigate our bodies in this 3-dimensional world of potential dangers, and potential happiness. Life experience and basic instincts guide our efforts for survival.

We learn from infancy into our toddler years, that matches burn, stoves are hot, and strangers could be danger. Knowing the difference between a safe or dangerous situation keeps us alive.

Yet, in our modern world, we want more than just to survive. Safety is key, but many of us now equate feeling safe, with being Happy. If we don’f feel happy, then our wellbeing is at risk. This creates a sense of unhappiness, from which anxiety or depression arise. Rational mind now ponders, “What can I do to feel safe, and happy? This feeling needs to be fixed.”

However, this type of “rationalizing” as an adult could be the very source of personal limitation, and the hindrance that keeps you from experiencing your fullest potential.




As adults, we gravitate toward situations and conditions that we believe are safe, pleasurable, or that will benefit us in some way.  Of course it makes sense to choose pleasurable conditions over what might be an unpleasant situation or outcome.  However, to make this type of deduction, our Rational Mind must label potential situations with a name such as, “This is good for me,” or “This will not be good, this is a bad situation.”

Sometimes, our rational judgments have no foundation of reality.  Most of our logical deductions are skewed by “unheard” scripts that lie silent in the subconscious mind.  Therefore, most of our logical choices are simply conclusions that are based merely on deeply buried perceptions.  In short, the subconscious is more than likely the foundation for what seems to be rational thoughts that you choose to accept as beliefs.  We think, feel, and act on these beliefs with confidence that we are right, and that we are acting in our best interest.   Our intentions are well thought out, but as soon as you label a situation as good or bad…it does become That.

What you call something, that IT becomes. The situation, person, experience, or thing as become labeled and now cannot be anything but what you have named it.


Viewpoints from Higher Mind…Life is a series of experiences. 


Life only offers us experiences. In this cosmic play you are participating in, you will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, and sometimes fall short of your goals and dreams. This is the human experience, and is a reality shared by all of us.

The sooner you allow life to be enjoyed as a series of experiences; you learn to accept every experience instead of constantly fighting against undesired outcomes.

Our belief systems belonging to the subconscious mind, force the rational mind to judge and categorize our actions, personal worth and achievements as either good or bad. On the path in Spiritual Practice, please accept all conditions as they are.

When the Emotions arise…accept them. Laugh at them. Love them, and let them be on their way. All emotions belong to a story you have created.  It is your mind that labels your experiences as either good or bad.  In reality, they are simply an experience of a person, an emotion, or a condition belonging to the outside world that you have witnessed.



How Vipassana Meditation offers clarity to your experiences.


This type of Insight Meditation is the practice of being the Observer as you watch the mind, and allow all conditions to exist— even painful emotions. Nothing is suppressed.

In a Vipassana sitting, you, as the Observer, allow and let go of different ideas, sensations, emotions as they appear and pass away, instead of keeping the mind fixed on one thing exclusively.

We practice Vipassana Meditation in order to see the mind, and get to know it rather than attempt to control it.

The goal is to allow yourself to become aware of each bodily sensation during a sitting such as heat, cold, tingling, emotions etc. In Vipassana Meditation you give attention to unpleasant emotions and nervous tendencies, which becomes very healing method of practice that purifies the mind.

Vipassana Meditation gives you the “space” to see through the illusion of ego (self), and become fully aware of your habits (patterns of the mind.)  This practice guides you into obtaining the ability to transcend the limited aspects belonging to rationally minded thinking that has been wired by the subconscious.


How to Begin your Vipassana Practice


Chose a comfortable position and sit or recline with a straight spine.
The reason for sitting straight offers several benefits. An arched or crooked back will soon become uncomfortable during a sitting.  Additionally, as you add breath work into your meditation, you will want to move the breath up and down the spine.  

Overall, to achieve peace of mind, you must make sure our body is at peace. So it’s important to choose a position that will be comfortable for a long period of time.


Once comfortable, close your eyes and prepare to go inward.
Close your eyes. Then place your attention at the belly, at the abdomen. Breathe normally—not forcing your breathing—neither slowing it down nor hastening it. Just a natural breath.

You will become aware of certain sensations as you breathe in and the abdomen rises, and as you breathe out and the abdomen falls.


Become the Mindful Witness
Be aware from the very beginning of your session of all sensations rising into and out of awareness. Be mindful of the entire process beginning to end.

For example: maintain a steady attention through the middle and the end of the rising. Then be aware of the sensations of the falling movement of the abdomen from the beginning, through the middle, and to the very end of the falling.

Just be aware of each of these movements from beginning to end as one complete process, as a whole. Or, if you come into awareness of an emotion or thought, try to notice that the thought is in the middle of being, near the ending…ending…etc.

Do not peer at the sensations with an over-focused mind, specifically looking to discover how the abdominal movement begins or ends.


Learn to label the sensation of what you Witness, not the experience. 
Name the sensation by saying the word gently and silently in the mind, like “rising, rising . . .,” and “falling, falling. . .” do this for breath, or emotion.

Note any thought you become aware of silently with the verbal label “thinking,” and come back to the rising and falling.

If a loud sound arises during your meditation, be aware of the sound as a direct experience, and also identify it succinctly with the soft, internal, verbal label “hearing, hearing.”

When the sound fades and is no longer predominant, come back to the rising and falling of breath. This is the basic principle to follow in sitting meditation.


Realize mental thoughts as objects of the Mind.
Mental thoughts can now be viewed as objects that fit into categories, such as “thinking,” “imagining,” “remembering,” “planning” and “visualizing.”


What is the best way to make the verbal label for sensations?
One simple word is best. For the eye, ear and tongue sensations we simply realize, “Seeing, seeing…,” or, “hearing, hearing…” or, “tasting, tasting . . . .”


What are some ways to note sensations in the body?
For sensations in the body you may wish to choose a word such as “warmth,” “pressure,” “hardness” or “motion.”


Allow yourself at least 5 minutes a day in your beginning practice. As you find this process of self-discovery to become enjoyable, you may wish to lengthen your meditation time.

In this practice you use labels to become aware of sensations, but as the Observer, you quickly learn that the sensations you perceive are not permanent.  They rise and fall…they come in to being, and soon fade away.  Underneath all of the noticed and labeled sensations is a deeper and more profound unwaivering stillness.  The Masters call this space of Stillness, “the Gap.”  In there…in this space is where your truth and and absolute potential rest, waiting to be discovered.

Many Blessings on your Journey.

Namaste’ ~ Melinda


melinda-circleMelinda Johnston, M.Msc.
Spiritual Philosopher and Coach, Intuitive Healer, Wellness Consultant

Melinda has over 25 years of study and practice in religious culture, practical philosophical, metaphysical sciences and understanding for the historical “webs” of human history. Because she is well versed in multiple facets of religious and sacred philosophy, including the Eastern philosophies of Buddhism and Vedanta, Metaphysical consciousness, and the Science of Yoga, her gentle teaching method allows one’s self knowledge to expand to deeper level, naturally.

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