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Meditation 101: What Is Noting? Tips on How to Master the Mind

Meditation might sound all dreamy and tranquil at first. But why is it so intimidating? If you’re new to meditation, then it can be challenging to be alone with your thoughts and your breath as you try to find your place of peace and calm. Luckily, you don’t have to block out every distraction that makes its way into your mind. Through the 20th century technique of noting, you can practice mindfulness and the subtle labeling of your thoughts throughout your meditation session.

What is noting?

Noting is a clearly outlined task for the mind to tackle while you meditate. Think of it as a supportive activity rather than a distracting habit. It’s about identifying thoughts rather than analyzing them. To note means to pay attention and focus to maintain this attention. See where you mind wanders when you let it go. And once you make a note, then bring your attention back to your breath.

Noting the senses

One of the best ways to begin your practice of noting is to tune in to your senses. If a sound interrupts your practice, then make a mental note: hearing. If an aroma fills the room—maybe coffee from the shop next door or car fumes that drift through an open window—then make another mental note: smelling. Maybe you feel an itch or a cool breeze: feeling. You get the idea. Begin to note how your body and mind interact.

Noting emotions

The next step in noting has to do with identifying emotions during the practice. Are you feeling frustrated that you can’t seem to relax right away? Are you worried about a deadline or responsibility? Maybe you had no idea how stressed you were until you began to note feelings of concern and exhaustion. In between meditation sessions, you may even want to write down your most frequent notes. How are you feeling when you really let your mind wander? Draw connections between you conscious and unconscious mind’s activities. You just may learn a whole lot about yourself.

Benefits of noting

By noting and naming your thoughts, you not only learn about your natural emotions, but you also improve how you control your emotions and overall happiness. Noting is all about identifying. So, as you get into meditation and begin to note, you improve your ability to focus and refocus your brain. In today’s ever-distracting world, this is an essential skill to develop. Bring your attention back to your breath, and then see where your mind takes you.


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