Noticing notes is an occasional series on this blog where I discuss the mindful writing practice of ‘noticing’ and encourage you to join in. What’s noticing? Well it’s basically just writing down the word ‘noticing’ followed by what’s happening for you in the present moment. When you get stuck, write the word ‘noticing’ again and keep going’
This post has more information on noticing
The first thing that fascinated me about noticing when I began was how it seemed to ground me.
I took up noticing as a way of writing through the feelings that overwhelm me when I write. All I asked of it was that I could just get some momentum going so that the anxiety wouldn’t keep me completely blocked.
What I found was that ‘noticing’ seemed to make me more aware of the anxiety and tension I was feeling.
I would start noticing the specific sensations related to my anxiety (and other feelings too) and move on to something else, then I would come back to those feelings and notice they had lessened. As I went through this process a number of times, I started to see that there was a link to noticing the physical sensations I was feeling, and how they would change as I noticed them.
This is the single biggest gift I’ve got from noticing so far.
Here’s one of the ways I’m working with that at the moment.
When I’m noticing, at some point I’ll often focus attention on the points where my body comes into contact with other things: a chair, the floor, the edge of the desk, keyboard, clothing. Simply noticing anything that is making contact with me and what my experience of that is.
What I find is that I become more aware of points of comfort and discomfort in my body, and either rest into those points, or adjust the points where I am uncomfortable.
I’ll usually do this exercise and make any adjustments I need to get more comfortable, then move on to some other kind of noticing, what’s around me, or thoughts that may come up, then after a while I will often come back and do another sweep of the points of contact to see if anything has shifted.
Here’s an exerpt from one of my noticing sessions where I spent a few minutes noticing while sitting on the stairs in my home:
‘noticing the hard line of pressure against my back where the step is digging in, the sensation is solid, and it feels like the step is pushing forward into me rather than me pushing into it. Like there’s movement there, or something. Now I’m shifting my back forward a little to lessen the pressure.
Noticing the warmth of the wood beneath thesoles of my feet, this step feels soft and yeilding. Another step presses lightly against the mid-point of my calves. It’s stronger against my right calf, barely noticeable against my left.
My notebook rests on the top of my thighs, it’s light except for where my hand rests as I’m writing. I can feel that pressure moving as my hand shifts across the page. noticing the thumb on my left hand pressing down on the page, holding my notebook steady, and how the opposite corner of my notebook shudders lightly as I write, I feel the stuttering contact up near my right knee.’
This went on for a while and there was a bit of shifting around to get comfortable and I noticed some subtler things (like the movement of the notebook as I was writing ) that I would normally never be aware of.
Focusing awareness on my body has a grounding effect, and it’s something that I forget too easily when I write.
I’ve found noticing the points of contact an interesting exercise because it gets my awareness focused on my body in a way that is different each time–noticing my posture, what I’m sitting on and how I’m sitting on it, what I might be leaning against, or holding–the experience is always different.
This is a really useful exercise to incorporate into whatever writing practice you might have whether it’s noticing, or morning pages, or a regular journalling practice. If you give it a go, I’d love to hear about your experience.