Glossary of Terms Used in Shinzen Young's Mindfulness System
Accelerators- Practice options designed to increase the rate of purification. Some accelerators include: motion challenge sequence, duration training, evoking/triggering, situational challenge.
Action– behavior directed at creating or changing sensory experience.
Activation– (sensory activation) the arising of any detectable Sensory Event. But see "Rest” and “Relative Rest”.
Attention– Conscious awareness deliberately contained with a chosen focus range or directed at a chosen sensory object or event.
Auditory– the sensory input channels of mental talk and/or ambient sound.
Auditory Space – the sense streams of mental talk and ambient sound taken together as a Focus Range.
Auto – action arising spontaneously, organizing organically, self-directing, under the purview of meta-conscious awareness.
Aversion– resisting the natural flow of Sensory Experience in a way that causes Suffering.
Awareness– conscious processing of the totality of sensory input. Includes activation within the focus range (attention) and outside the focus range (peripheral awareness).
Background– all sensory channels outside the Focus Range.
Bearing Down– Increasing the intensity of practice. This might include more practice, longer practice, intentional sensory activation, sequence challenges, spoken labels, more aggressive stance in noting, etc.
Blank-(Blank Screen, Blank Field) – the restful state of mental image space consisting of the general sense of darkness or emptiness seen just in front of or behind the closed eyes. It might feature some static, pixelation, flashes of light, or slowly moving amorphous shapes of light and dark or subdued colors, but not including images with symbolic content.
Body Space–the three dimensional volume of the body as the Focus Range in which non-emotional (touch) and emotional (feel) body sensations may be detectable.
Challenge Sequence – A planned program of mindfulness methods and/or situations that escalate step wise along a scale of increasing demand for one or more of the three mindfulness skills (C,C or E). For example, a common challenge sequence is to begin with See, Hear, Feel while sitting in stillness. Then while standing. Then while walking around the room. Then walking around the neighborhood. Then washing the dishes. Then making small talk with a neighbor. Etc.
Clarity (sensory clarity, sensory specificity) – the skill of tracking the characteristics of sensory experience as it unfolds in the present moment with increasing sensitivity and resolution. Sensitivity is the ability to detect ever more subtle sensory events. Resolution is the ability to detect the separate streams within composite sensory events.
Complete Experience – Allowing a sensory event to arise, abide, and pass away without any interference, judgment, or preference.
Concentration power – the ability to focus attention on whatever aspect of sensory experience is deemed relevant for as long as desired.
Contemplation- as used by Kaishin, synonymous with mindfulness and meditation. Please note that these words as used by others can all have very different meanings.
Contraction– a lessening or diminishing of any sensory event in size, intensity, frequency, velocity, pressure, etc.
Coveting– craving, clinging to, resisting the passing of, any sensory experience in a manner that causes suffering.
Distraction Space - all sensory channels outside the focus range.
Don't Know Mind – The mental state of confusion, need to know, being lost, need for a plan, need to bring order to chaos, need for answers, etc.
Driven Action – action with emotional attachment, often unskillful, that causes suffering when goals are thwarted. Contrast with “Motivated Action”
Duration Training – (strong determination practice) formal practice, usually sitting in stillness, for an extended period of time with the intention of not moving until the chosen time interval is complete.
Easing up– lessening the intensity of practice. This might include reducing more challenging types of practice, working more with restful and positive states, cultivating self-compassion, taking a break, etc.
Equanimity– An attitude of radical non-interference with the natural flow of sensory experience. Deep contentment with sensory experience as it is. Complete acceptance of “see, hear, feel” in the present moment. Non-judgmental present-centered awareness. Surrender to the Will of God.
Even Coverage – a Focus Method in which the entire scope of the chosen Focus Range is kept within the spotlight of attention. Contrast with Free Float, Selective Attention, and Scanning.
Evoking- an accelerator practice in which, during formal practice, one intentionally calls up thoughts designed to cause a manageable level of emotional arisings.
Exclusive Noting – picking only on component to note within a multi-component sensory event.
Expansion– an increase in any sensory event in size, intensity, frequency, velocity, pressure, etc.
Feel – Sensory Activation in the body that seems to be of emotional origin.
Feel Space– the three dimensional volume of the body as the focus range in which feel sensations may be detectable.
FIT Space(Subjective Space) – the combination of Feel Space, Image Space, and Talk Space as a focus range.
Fixated Self– The sense of self as a separate, static, reified personal identity.
Flat Phase– Over time on the path of mindfulness practice, the stored up emotionally reactive “scar tissue” that often drives us to unskillful action, is released. This sometimes results in a kind of emotional inertia or flat affect in the motivational vacuum left after the departure of the habitual driving forces. Eventually, that vacuum is filled by a new kind of motivation animated by joy, love and a spirit of service. At that time, the practitioner “springs” back into life with a spontaneous power and perfection. Shinzen's “auto” techniques were designed specifically to accelerate this process and bridge the “Flat Phase” by training spontaneity.
Flavor– the subjective character or valence of a sensory experience. It might be general, like “pleasant” or “unpleasant”. It might be more specific, like “fear” or “anger”. Flow – movement, change, “energy” or force detectable within a sensory experience.
Flow-Self– the experience of a personal identity, but unfixated.
Focus– to direct attention to a sensory object, space, or other sensory activation.
Focus In– To Focus on Subjective Space (FIT Space)
Focus Method– the way in which Focus is directed within a Focus Range.
Focus Out– To focus on Objective Space (Touch, Sight, and Sound)
Focus Range(domain) – the chosen sense streams or spaces chosen as the object of concentrated awareness for a particular formal mindfulness technique.
Formal Practice – practice session lasting ten minutes or more during which time all attention is focused on the chosen mindfulness technique.
Free Float– a Focus Method in which Attention is allowed to move from one Sensory Event to another within the chosen Focus Range without a deliberate plan or pattern. Contrast with Scanning and Even Coverage.
Gone– the label used when noting the abrupt vanishing or diminishing of activation in the focus range.
GUS– (Global Unfixated State) Mind space in a complete state of flow or rest.
Happiness Grid – Shinzen Young's formulation of the components of human happiness and the development of those components with the development of mindfulness. The five types of happiness are: Relief (minimize suffering); Fulfillment (maximize satisfaction); Wisdom (understand yourself); Mastery (skillful action); and Service (serving others out of love).
Image– (visual thoughts) subjective visual sensory experience with symbolic content (people, places, or objects) arising in Mind Space.
Image Space– the subjective space in which mental images (visual thoughts) occur.
Inclusive Noting – Noting all components of a simultaneous sensory events.
Instruction Set- the focus range, focus method, modality, themes, options, stance, and any other relevant directions for practice.
Intentional Sensory Activation – Acting to deliberately manipulate sensory input in order to stimulate sensory activation as an object of focus. Includes evoking and triggering methods.
Kria– Involuntary body movements that sometimes occur with mindfulness practice.
Labeling– an option available in the Noting practice in which the moment of acknowledging and/or the moment of penetrating high concentration, are accompanied by a verbal label. The verbal label may be solely in mental talk space or may be spoken aloud. Labels may describe various aspects of the sensory event being noted, including the sense stream in which it is arising (ie visual, auditory, or somatic), a characteristic of the sensation (flow), or content (judging, memory, etc).
Light– restful state of sight, looking through or around objects rather than at them.
Meditation– as used by Kaishin, synonymous with mindfulness and contemplation. Please note that these words as used by others can all have very different meanings.
Microhit– implementing a deliberate mindfulness practice for less than ten minutes.
Mind Space– the combination of Image Space and Talk Space.
Modality(Mode, Sensory Modality) – any of the three general categories of sensory experience: visual, auditory or somatic.
Motion Challenge Sequence – a practice accelerator in which formal practice advances through a sequence of increasingly complex actions over minutes, hours, days, weeks etc. For example: beginning on the cushion in stillness, then standing up and walking slowly around the room, then washing the dishes, then walking around the yard, then walking around the neighborhood, then making small talk with a neighbor, then walking around a crowded public space, etc.
Motivated Action – action with no emotional attachment to outcomes, often optimally skillful, such that suffering does not arise if goals are thwarted.
No-Self– the experience of the dissolution of the Fixated Self. Noting – a mindfulness method made popular by Burmese master Mahasi Sayadaw and refined by Shinzen Young involving a two-step process of first acknowledging, or being conscious of, a specific arising (or continuing) of a sensory event within the focus range followed by a moment of high, penetrating concentration on the sensory event (if it lasts long enough). Noting may or may not be done with labeling. See Stance.
Nucleation– the sense of the beginning of congealing, sticking, or fixating in the context of a Global Unfixated State.
Objective- sensory experience arising from seemingly external sources: Sight, Sound, Touch.
Objective Space – The combination of Sight Space, Sound Space, and Touch Space
Peace– the relative absence of emotional body sensations
Practice in Life – infusing daily life activities with mindfulness.
Practice in Stillness – Formal practice while intentionally not moving.
Practice in Motion – Formal practice while moving (walking, tai chi, yoga, etc.)
Purification– A multifaceted transformation of consciousness and rewiring of the nervous system. This can include deepening of equanimity, the development of porosity and fluidity in the sense of separate identity, the diminishing of obstacles to direct and complete experience of the unfolding world in the present moment, and the release of accumulated emotionally reactive neurological scar tissue. The word “purification” in English has an unfortunate moral connotation that is not intended here. Purification as used here does not imply a degenerate moral state that needs to be rectified. A better way to think about purification in this usage is as in refining the ore of a precious metal. To bring out the natural brilliance already existing in the metal within the ore, it is necessary to remove the companion materials that do not belong to the precious metal.
Quiet– the relative absence of mental talk
Re-noting– When free floating, a particular sensory activation may be persistent, interesting, or seemingly fruitful. In such cases one may stay with the event and continue with a sequence of notings, either with a specific number of repetitions or until the sensory event diminishes.
Re-labeling– a given noting event may be accompanied by more than one label. Labeling each of the two phases of a noting event can help emphasize the high-concentration phase.
Relaxation– any perception of bodily repose or release of muscle tension
Rest– Absolute rest is the complete absence of any detectable activation in a particular focus range. Relative rest is the distinct attenuation, rather than complete absence, of activation in a particular focus range. A reference to “rest” in any given technique or guidance usually refers to relative rest.
Restful States – Each sensory category has a name for its state of relative rest: Touch Space – Relaxed Sight Space – Light Sound Space – Silence Feel Space - Peace Image Space – Blank Talk Space – Quiet
Retreat– an extended period of time, and when possible a contained space, for sustained formal practice. Typical retreats fall into three classes: Residential: the participant eats, sleeps, and practices at a location apart from their usual home. Non-residential: the participant practices at a location apart from their usual home, but does not eat or sleep at the practice location. Remote: the participant attends the practice sessions by online audio/video connection.
The benefits of retreat practice include: A simplified environment that minimizes the usual distractions of daily life and opens up more subtle aspects of the fixated sense of self to examination in practice; Increased momentum in the exercise of the mindfulness skills during repeated sequential formal practice sessions; The increased strength of intention that comes with making and following through on the commitment to withdraw from the safe, stable, comfortable, mundane daily life and enter the unknown, chaotic, uncomfortable world of intense self-examination.
Scanning– a Focus Method in which attention is moved within a Focus Range in a deliberate pattern (for example head to toe or side to side). Contrast with Even Coverage and Free Float.
Selective Attention – Maintaining focus in a chosen focus range (that is narrower in scope than ALL sensory experience) while ignoring sensory activation in distraction space. Note: important to maintain equanimity with sensory activation in distraction space as well as within the focus range.
Self– the sense of personal identity. See Fixated self, No-self, and Flow-self. Sensory Event (Sensation, Sensory Activation) -
Sense Stream– all or any part of the moment-by-moment flow of sense perception.
Settling in– A few minutes of acclimating mind and body to stillness and focus at the outset of a formal sitting practice.
Sight – looking at physical objects; Objective Sensory Activation detected with the open eyes.
Sight Space– the realm of Sight.
Silence– the restful state of Sound Space, abiding in the absence of sound or listening through or “around” sounds to contact the absence.
Situation Training – an accelerator practice in which one attempts formal practice in a challenging life situation.
Sound(ambient sound) – listening to physical sounds; Sensory Activation detected with the ears.
Sound Space- the realm of Sound. Somatic– relating to or arising in the body.
Spontaneous Sensory Activation – sensory activation that occurs without deliberate stimulation.
Special Exercise – a practice designed to emphasize and sensitize clarity in one particular sub-category of sensory experience.
Stability– the absence of flow
Stance– The continuum of vigor (active or passive) with which certain aspects of concentration can be pursued optionally. For example, focus method may be, in order of increasing vigor, free floating, even coverage, selective attention, or systematic inventory. Or when free floating, one might wait passively for sensory events to “call” or one might actively seek out sensory events (up to the point where it becomes systematic inventory). Or during the momentary high concentration phase of noting, one might invite the sensory event to surround or envelope, or one might more actively penetrate the sensory event.
Stillness, practice in – formal practice, standing, sitting, or lying down, undertaken with the intent of not moving the body for the duration of the practice session.
Subjective– sensory experience arising from seemingly internal sources: mental talk, mental image, emotional body sensations.
Subjective Space – (FIT Space) the combination of Feel Space, Image Space, and Talk Space as a focus range.
Suffering- The sense of personal discomfort that arises with resistance to the natural flow, the arising and passing, of sensory experience. It can be obvious or subtle, momentary or continuous, and appear with aversion towards the arising of unwanted experience or with clinging upon the passing of desired experience.
Talk Space– the subjective space in which mental talk (verbal thinking) occurs.
Talk(mental talk, verbal thinking) – activity in Talk Space with symbolic content that could be articulated if necessary. “Words” as opposed to, for example, ringing, buzzing, or the movement of subtle “pre-talk”.
Taste of Purification – the sense during or after mindfulness practice that some purification has occurred, that something has changed, that some transformative work was done. While intelligible insights might occur simultaneously, the taste of purification tends to be inarticulate, detected as an echo of something happening in the subconscious. Often there is a sense that some unknown something has been scoured out or released. The taste of purification can become a motivational reward flavor.
Themes– categories of emphasis in a practice session, such as inner, outer, rest, flow, spaciousness, or spontaneity.
Thinking– sensory activity with symbolic content arising in Mind Space. It might be visual or verbal or both.
Touch – non-emotional Sensory Activation in the physical body.
Touch Space– the realm of Touch.
Trigger Practice – an accelerator practice in which, during formal practice, one intentionally arranges for the incursion of external stimuli (sights, sounds, touch sensations) designed to cause a manageable level of emotional arisings.
Valence- the subjective character or affective value of a sensory experience. It might be general, like “pleasant” or “unpleasant”. It might be more specific, like “fear” or “anger”.
Vanishing– the abrupt disappearance of all or part of a sensory event. Vanishing might be detected within a focus range, outside a focus range (background), or even indirectly from out of the subconscious.
Verbal Thinking – (mental talk) sensory activity in mind space in the form of words that could be articulated if so desired. There may be activity in talk space that lacks symbolic content – tinnitus, subtle “pre-talk” rumbling or stirring, etc. - but that is not “thinking”.
Visual– Sight or Image.
Visual Thinking – (mental image) sensory activity in mind space in the form of images of people, places, or objects. There may be activation in image space that lacks symbolic content – amorphous moving shapes, flashes of light, pixelation, etc. - but that is not “thinking”.
Zooming (in or out) – Temporarily changing the emphasis of concentration within a chosen focus range.