Mindfulness tips by Anton morin
Noting practice
how doing nothing can help us to fight anxiety
Black box problem
Our brain is a magic black box that has lots of unknown processes inside going on simultaneously to digest our everyday experience. Usually we do not notice how it works unless it starts giving us unwanted signals like feeling of anxiety or troubles with sleep or eating too much etc.

From my personal experience I remember that during stressful times working at agency side I was eating too much at night (to release this stress and reward myself for extreme efforts as I understood later). But usually it is not so obvious as we just start feeling some kind of tension or discomfort knowing nothing about the reasons for this (and even knowing the reasons it is usually close to impossible to fight this temptation).
What can we do about these unclear mental and physical tensions to get back to normal?
The art of doing nothing
Among many different practices I found very simple and interesting (even entertaining) one to get back on track and clearly see what is going on inside me – called Noting.

Noting is a form of mindfulness close to meditation – practice of recognizing and naming things that we can embrace with our senses (see, hear, think, feel) that gives us precise clarity of what is going on with us (because we are often completely blown away with these feelings and thoughts) and levers to manage them (watch them happening and releasing them / letting go).

We are in the matrix
We usually operate within 2D matrix capturing our experience using our senses (see / hear / feel) and process them from 2 perspectives: internal and external. So any sensorial experience we get can be assigned to one of these 6 cells:
So instead of feeling general anxiety making us mad we can try approaching it from other side - focusing on small details of our senses helping us to jump out of this flow to the bank and start observing them which leaves us in better condition than our general tension.
Now let`s do some practice!
Step 1. Practice of sensing in isolation
This is one time exercise to get acquainted with multisensorial experience in isolation (4-5 min)
Try focusing for a minute what you see around, notice and name things silently (whiteboard with magnets, outlook ribbon with ornaments, yellow search line in browser, shadow of my fingers etc…), spend 3-5 seconds recognizing each of the images, tagging them and move further.
Try focusing for a minute on the sounds around you, notice and name them silently (car passing by, voice of your kid, music, keyboard clicking…), spend 3-5 seconds recognizing each of the sounds and tagging them and move further. You can close your eyes if it feels better.
Try focusing for a minute on your body and note any physical feelings you have naming them (feet standing on the ground, your clothes touching your skin, your breath, air flow touching your chin…), spend 3-5 seconds recognizing each of the feelings and move further.
Try focusing for a minute on your emotions – how do you feel at the moment: calm, nervous, inspired… - where these emotion sit in your body? How do they feel like?
Now you are ready to go deeper
Step 2. Full-scale practice
You can do this practice anytime anywhere.
Usually 1-5 min is enough.
Multisensorial experience
Let your mind flow freely across any things that happen in your body, mind, emotions or around you.
Each 3-5-7 seconds notice any occasions taking place now naming it in the most precise way (sound – jaw muscle tension – jaw muscle release – inhale – fridge sound – thought – warmness – sound of keyboard …)

You can focus on any occasion you notice.
Talk through these noting inside yourself calmly.

Each notion act consists of 2 parts:
  1. Initial occasion recognition and naming
  2. 1-2 seconds of concentration on this occasion
If you flow away in your thoughts – this is fine, just get back to practice without punishing yourself.
Noting builds a set of great habits leading to better emotional stability, bodily awareness and deeper self-perception, specifically:
  • Focus stability (mind) – that helps to concentrate on the things that we need (vs. the ones that our anxious mind takes us to)
  • Sensorial clarity (feelings/emotions) – ability to clearly determine feelings that we have (vs. general discomfort or anxiety) and find their roots
  • Bodily awareness (body) – ability to get deeper into your body processes to understand their spectrum, release tensions and feel better (this is important as many mental tensions result in body tensions)
  • Acceptance (general cognitive pattern) – openness to any kind of experience and allowing thoughts and feelings to flow in a natural way without taking you with them (kind of detachment)
The habits mentioned above help us building Metacognitive skills, skills beyond our thinking mind, ability to see and listen to our thoughts without being them that help us moving from Narrative self (interpretations and judgements about me) – to Experiential self (me looking at my thoughts / feelings, living them through but not being trapped by them leading to frustration).
This practice helped me in many ways, specifically:
  • to release many body tensions caused by stress and be more relaxed and have more energy (which was drained by these tensions)
  • to establish better eating habits listening to my body signals if it really wants to eat or just needs some kind of food entertainment to praise myself for efforts
  • to find root causes for anxiety (most often caused by uncertainty) and finding clear actions how to deal with it
So try doing it on a daily basis and you will surely see the results!

#mindfulness #meditation #wellbeing
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