Noting: A meditation technique to generate mindfulness while practicing

While we are practicing, at times we are bombarded by unhelpful thoughts, such as judging thoughts and critical thoughts. Sometimes the thoughts are more benign (planning thoughts-for example, what’s for dinner?; remembering thoughts; or even kind thoughts). While we are practicing, we want to stay ensconced in the present moment, and these thoughts take us out of the present moment.

One technique for working with thoughts while we are practicing is called “noting.” I learned this technique from the Real Happiness Challenge from meditation pioneer Sharon Salzberg. Essentially, what we do when we notice that a thought has arisen, is gently place a soft mental label on the thought, such as “remembering”, or “thinking”, or “judging”. It’s a very general label that allows us to create mindfulness once we let go of the thought by noting it.

The illustration above, titled “Give Me Ten,” shows how noting can be a very soft, gentle, process. As Sharon Salzberg says, “it’s like touching a feather to a glass.” When we touch the glass (the thought) with the note (the feather), the thought departs and we are left with mindfulness.

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