One of my favorite expressions is, “To do things differently, you have to see things differently.” Even subtly raising our awareness of a specific sensation, object, thought, or feeling requires seeing it as part of the whole experience in the moment, i.e., in the context of the bigger picture. This process involves noticing with no expectation of a specific outcome.
It is sometimes called detachment, but a better word could be “suspension” (as it implies something short-term, active, and purposeful). Dr. Francisco J. Varela, a Chilean philosopher and neuroscientist, said that suspension involves “…removing ourselves from the habitual stream [of thought]” and described it as fundamental to enhancing awareness.
Practicing noticing something—even quite ordinary—will enable greater conscious awareness in the context of your state of mind, physical status, location, experience, practices, beliefs, and other personal and environmental factors. Here are a few examples:
- You detect the uniquely delicious aroma of freshly baked cookies in the air. Your mouth starts to water.
- A random thought pops into your mind. You treat it as a breeze that has moved across your skin—nothing more.
- A sudden surge of anger or anxiety rises, seemingly out of nowhere. You notice it come and watch it go.
- You see the steam rising from the hot tea and feel the cup’s warmth against your hands. The corners of your lips spontaneously, slightly upturn.
- While lying in bed, you feel the sensation of your body lightly sinking into the mattress. You take a deep breath and close your eyes.
Noticing is imperceptibly elevating your relevant senses to observe more fulsomely whatever is presented, passing by, or through. It’s not a matter of gathering yourself to focus, or doing anything that requires extra effort or energy. It is subtly but deliberately choosing to be more aware than unaware in the moment. The stimulus, whatever it is, could be rich with choices and potential but needn’t be pursued. It is simply noticed.
Noticing is an effortless choice to allow the moment to be as it is in its unique wholeness, context, and flow: its essence.
Please join me on a journey of noticing.