Very Different from a Wandering Mind

Excerpt from David Vago's Buddhist Geeks conversation (Episode 262) with Vince Horn, "The Emerging Science of Mindfulness Meditation":

My contribution to David Vago's research study on rest. Boston, March 17, 2012Another project we’re working on [is] with Buddhist teacher Shinzen Young. You know, I have to admit I’m really attracted to his model of teaching because it really articulates a very specific way of mental noting and labeling. And because he’s sort of integrated a little bit of Zen, a little bit of Theravada, and a little bit of Shingon into his model, his way of teaching mindfulness. He’s created a very specific framework that is easily testable in science.

And so that makes it easier for me, for someone who’s trying to dismantle these processes into component parts to really understand, well what is it – how is it that when we’re resting and for example, he has a mental noting or labeling technique that allows us to know and label the arising, the experience of, the passing or the absence of multiple modalities of inner or outer experience.

For example he uses inner hearing or auditory modality, a visual modality, and a visceral-somatic [modality].

So the idea is you can hear your mental talk of here’s something from the outside; you can see something externally or you can focus on internal visual imagery. There can be somatic, visceral somatic states from inside or you can feel physical touch.

All those are going to be very different in the brain. And what you’re doing when you’re thinking about each one of those while resting, for example, or just noting and labeling the absence of those is going to look very different from a wandering mind that’s more discursive. And so now we’re really trying to understand using his methods what’s going on in a resting, resting mind that is focused towards a very specific modality that he uses in his system. And that’s going to just I think completely blow away our conception of what we think the mind is doing when it’s resting.

Listen to the entire interview...

See also: