Noticing is a meditation technique in which we simply acknowledge an occurrence, such as "standing up" or "pleasure." Noticing can be used for both external events and internal events (e.g., thoughts and emotions). This technique is a means of focusing our attention and achieving an objective viewpoint. Noticing is similar to the Gurdjieff's technique of "self-remembering."
Benefits of Noticing
- It helps us to be attentive to our activities (external or internal); for example, when we think the word, "pleasure," we are reinforcing our mindfulness of the state. However, noting might be considered an intrusion of abstract thinking if we prefer to experience the state non-verbally.
- We can create an impersonal, non-judgmental state in which we are less attached to the action; for example, we are observing the "pleasure" rather than experiencing an identification with it (i.e., "I am feeling pleasure"). Thus, we can disengage from unwanted states more easily. But we do not try to change whatever we are noting; we merely recognize it.
- 3. We become more conscious of the ever-changing flow of phenomena, thoughts, and moods. For example, a minute ago, we noted that we were "worried" but now we note that we are "happy." With this perception (and our verbal affirming of the perception), we dismantle the limiting concept that we are any particular type of person ("happy" or "worried"); thus, we are free to acknowledge more aspects of ourselves.
The Techniques of Noticing
- We can notice during any activity. For example, while washing dishes, we would say, "washing." At other times, we might notice listening, or typing, or relaxing, or chewing, or cutting, or other activities.
- We can say the word once, or we can repeat it constantly during the activity, e.g., "washing washing washing washing washing" and so on.
- We can use additional words. Instead of simply saying "pleasure" (for example), we might say a phrase, e.g., "Pleasure is happening again."
- We can use noticing meditation with other forms of meditation. Other authors have mentioned noticing in its application to mindfulness meditation, thought meditation, moving meditation, walking meditation, and breathing exercises.
- We can be more explicit. For example, instead of "washing," we might define the various stages of washing, e.g., "scrubbing" or "rinsing." Similarly, in our noticing of emotions, we might go from a vague "sadness" to a more-specific "disappointment." And instead of noticing "thinking," we might note "worrying." However, our attempt to be more precise might require too much mental analysis; for example, while we are wondering whether an emotion should be noted as "fear" or "anxiety," we are not being attentive to the emotion itself.
excerpt from James Harvey Stout's Human Handbook - used with permission