Mental noting is a powerful tool to help us stay in the present moment. With practice, this tool can also be used in day-to-day life as a way to distinguish the many, intrusive thoughts that arise and fall every waking moment. Mental noting is traditionally used while meditating. We can integrate it into our daily lives by just sitting and monitoring thoughts. Thinking is a powerful distraction, preventing us from being mindfully present in a productive way. Mental noting allows us to simply acknowledge, welcome, and “note” the thought. At first this exercise may seem strange and maybe even dismissive, but overtime, please trust something WILL shift.
Mental noting allows the act of thinking to be very simple, rather than letting the mind wander off into distraction or a narrative. Once you become aware that you are thinking, you can learn to work with the incessant flow of discursive thoughts. Mental noting helps us do this without analysis or judgment. Instead, we simply give our current experience a one-word label. For example, upon hearing a sound we may note ‘hearing’ without thinking further about the sound. Other common mental notes are ‘seeing’, ‘touching’, ‘feeling’, and ‘thinking’.
Experiences can also be given more descriptive labels. For example, sensations may be noted as ‘cold, ‘itch, ‘pain, ‘tightness’, and so on. Emotions can be named: ‘anxious, ‘scared, ‘happy, ‘fear’. Mental activity may be recognized as ‘wanting’, ‘planning’, ‘resisting’, and the like. Usually, repeating the note is helpful until the experience being noted has dissolved or is no longer predominant.
Noting in meditation has a number of useful functions:
- Anchoring the present moment. The mind is less likely to wander off if one keeps up a steady stream of relaxed noting. If the mind does wander, the noting practice can make it easier to reconnect with mindfulness.
- Truthful perception. The clearer one’s recognition of what is going on, the more effective one’s mindfulness. Naming can strengthen recognition.
- Revealing patterns. A frequently repeated mental note shows a frequently recurring thought or experience. This can shed light on what it is that is pulling us out of our centre.
- Gaining Perspective. Noting can help us take a step back so that we might see things more clearly. For example, noting ‘wanting’ might take us out of the preoccupation with “wanting something”. This may not be an immediate shift, but by repeatedly noting ‘wanting, wanting,’ one will soon be aware of the wanting without being caught by it.
- Cultivating a more mindful response. Mental noting helps to cultivate a non-reactive form of attention. By gently and calmly noting what is happening, we are less likely to get caught up in emotional reactions.
- Experiencing inner voice. The voice of your mental noting can allow you to connect to your emotional self.
Each person needs to find his or her own way unique way of noting – it isn’t a fixed technique with a specific right way. Sometimes, what is helpful is taking five-ten minutes a day and calmly note you are being mindful of. It is a practice that can be used daily living, and will assist you on your journey towards fertility.