Take Notice

Take Notice
Taking notice is exactly what it says it is. It is catching sight of the everyday.  Remarking on what you see in the moment.  Noticing whatever you might be thinking or feeling. Noticing the leaves on the trees, the dew on the grass, a cicada singing. Savouring the moment.  Being completely aware of your surroundings.  Being present.
This can incorporate acknowledgment of your grief or loss through the practice of mindfulness.  It is about creating a space for your own sense of suffering.
Mindfulness is a state of focused attention on the present.  Being mindful is observing your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without any judgment of whether they are good or bad.  Instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, mindfulness means awakening to experience right here, right now.
Life inevitably includes the experience of loss, but it does not have to result in hopelessness.  Taking the time to develop awareness of the present moment grounds us when everything appears chaotic.
  • Write about the Loss. Writing can be challenging but also therapeutic. Try keeping a diary about about experiences, good and bad.
  • Engage in Creative Expression. Try painting, drawing, photography or other creative activities to express your loss, your feelings, yourself!
  • Create a ritual. Feelings can be expressed powerfully through ritual. Explore meaningful ways that offer comfort. These can include music, silence, objects, lighting a candle.
  • Savour simple pleasures. The sound of rain on the roof, a child’s laughter, a cold shower on a hot day, a warm shower on a cold day, the comfort of a cup of tea.
  • Practice Joy. In addition to being present with the grief, it’s equally important to practice opening to joy. Make time to do things that you love, and give yourself permission to feel good again.
  • Make room for all kinds of feelings at different times. Feel them, talk about them.
How do you incorporate noticing into daily life?
  • Stop, take 10 breaths in and out, calming the body and mind, then simply rest and notice what it around you. Pause and breathe for three breath cycles whenever you remember throughout the day.
  • Take the opportunity to sit quietly in a busy place like a train station or a shopping mall and notice the interactions between people.
  • Take time to be grateful for three small things per day (and write them down if you’d like to remember).
  • Walk around the block and notice five things from the environment that strike you during that time.
  • Be aware of your physical self. Notice when your foot touches the ground while walking, notice your hand as it grasps a spoon while you eat.
  • Sit for ten minutes and notice the thoughts that ebb and flow through your mind, without judging them. Thoughts are like clouds that form and dissipate.
  • Take the time to thank people who support you every day.
  • Start a photo diary of a place, person or pet. Take photos for a year and create an album.
  • Reflect on where you are from, the place you grew up, the landscapes you liked. Skilfully reflecting on the past can enhance appreciation of the present.
  • Notice people, give them a smile, say hello.
  • When you wake in the morning, take ten mindful breaths, and let your thoughts flow without any judgement. Accept positive as well as negative and let them disappear as all thoughts do. Acknowledge the new day.
  • Walk through a local park or along a beach and notice the sights, smells and the sounds around you.
  • Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit in your local area and notice your reason for visiting.
  • Lie under a tree and notice the leaves above you. Notice the branches. Notice the trunk, the ridges and grooves. Notice the roots if they are visible.
  • Garden mindfully with full attention. If you don’t have a garden, plant herbs for the windowsill and notice the growth.
  • Go for a bush walk and notice the sounds, the smells and sights along the way.
  • Find a favourite garden in your neighbourhood and notice and appreciate the growth that you see.
  • Keep a gratitude jar and place a post-it note with one thing that you are grateful for in the jar on a regular basis.
  • At the end of the day ask friends, family or colleagues what the best thing was about their day and listen with interest when they respond.
An easy mindfulness exercise is one that you can do anytime throughout the day.  For 60 seconds focus all your attention on your breathing.  It’s just for one minute, but you may find your thoughts are busy and you feel distracted.  Leave your eyes open and breathe normally.  Return your attention to your breath whenever your mind wanders.
This mindfulness exercise is far more powerful than you might think.  It can take years of practice before it is easy to complete a single minute of alert, clear attention.  Keep in mind that this is not a competition.  You can’t fail, but you can experience.  Over time, the duration of this exercise can be extended.
Hold a raisin in the palm of your hand or between your finger and thumb.  Focus on it.  Imagine that you have never seen an object like this before in your life.  Take time to really see it; gaze at the raisin with full attention.  Let your eyes explore every part of it, examining the highlights where the light shines, the darker hollows, the folds and ridges.  Turn the raisin over between your fingers, exploring its texture, maybe with your eyes closed if that enhances your touch sensation.
Holding the raisin beneath your nose, inhale any aroma that may arise, noticing as you do this anything interesting that may be happening in your mouth or stomach.  Slowly bring the raisin up to your lips, noticing how your hand and arm know exactly how and where to position it.  Gently place the object in the mouth, without chewing, noticing how it gets into the mouth in the first place.  Spend a few moments to explore sensations of the raisin in your mouth, exploring it with your tongue.  When you are ready, prepare to chew the raisin, noticing how and where it needs to be for chewing.  Take one or two bites into it and notice what happens, experiencing any waves of taste that emanate from it as you chew.
Without swallowing, notice the sensations of taste and texture in the mouth and how these may change over time, as well as any changes in the object itself.  When you are ready to swallow the raisin, see if you can detect the intention to swallow as it comes up, so that even this is experienced consciously before you go ahead.  Finally, see if you can feel what is left of the raisin moving down into your stomach. Sense how you feel after the exercise.  Take this concept of mindful eating into every meal.
Pick up an object, any object. It could be a shoe, a pen, a glass, a pin, a paperclip.  Hold it in your hands and allow your attention to be fully absorbed by the object. Observe it.  Where has it come from?  What is its purpose?  What does it feel like?
You’ll feel a sense of “nowness” during this exercise and of being fully awake.  Conscious observation is a form of meditation.  It’s subtle, but can also be great.
This is an exercise in concentration rather than mindfulness.  Instead of focusing on your breath, close your eyes and slowly counting to ten.  It is more difficult than you imagine, but you’ll get there.
In this exercise you focus your attention on your breathing whenever a specific environmental cue occurs.  For example, whenever you hear a phone ring. Mindfulness cues are designed to snap you out of autopilot and bring you back to the present, as it is, right now.
More on mindfulness.