Name It To Frame It

How can we help support bringing awareness, meta-awareness and some distancing from our sense of self in our present experience as we practice mindfulness? Labelling is a very simple, practical and effective technique to do this. Language can be very helpful to direct our focus. Normally we are so caught up with what is happening that we are not aware of what we are aware of. In labeling one pauses and then identifies what dominant thought, emotion or physical sensation is present. One can state it as a generality such as: “Thinking, Feeling an emotion or Feeling a physical sensation.” One can be more specific by identifying the actual thought or feeling such as: “Judging, Sadness, Cramping etc.” It is helpful not to use the word “I” such as I am sad, I am planning or I am feeling pain. This is a way to move away from the belief in an enduring sense of self that is owning the experience. Mindfulness is a process. Labelling can help support this by saying: “KNOWING sadness, Knowing pain, Knowing planning.” In finding the right label for the experience there needs to be a stepping back from ownership of the experience to be able to have the perspective to know what is happening.  Name it to frame it by labeling creates a brake from the automatic and autonomous reactive self-referential judgment.

By Phil Blustein