The Power of Simply Noting
A very doable yet powerful technique to bring and gently keep ourselves in the present moment is called 'noting'. As I have mentioned in other blog posts, spending time in the present moment as opposed to mentally being in the past or future is very helpful for our mental wellbeing. With that said again, let's try out some of this noting practice.
The basic idea here is, to label the things we experience right now via our senses. By the way, you can do this exercise anywhere and in any position. I personally find it especially rewarding to this during a walk in nature. However, you could even do this during a business meeting in a room when you feel emotions of stress or overwhelm creeping up on you.
OK, so lets do this. As our attention picks up on something we simply label the sensory input as either "seeing", "hearing", "smelling", "feeling" (physical sensations of any kind), "thinking". Let's come up with a label roughly every 3 to 5 seconds. We do not want to start mentally analyzing what we are seeing or hearing. Instead we just want to label it and let it go and then label the next thing. In case you find yourself lost in thought about one of the things you meant to label, simply notice that this is happening and label that thought process as "thinking" and then proceed to label other things.
Here is what such a sequence of labeled inputs might look like:
seeing, feeling, feeling, seeing, hearing, feeling, hearing, seeing, thinking, hearing, hearing, feeling
Of course, you will at times have multiple sensory experiences at the same time. For example I might feel the cold wind hitting my face while at the same time hearing traffic rush by. There is no right or wrong in just picking whatever sensation I label whether I say "hearing" (the traffic) or say "feeling" (the cold wind). As long as I label one thing at a time, it does not matter which one I pick.
Enjoy this noting practice. It can become a powerfully helpful interruption to rumination and other harmful mental habits.
- Tags: depression
- Diana Shaffner