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Noting

One technique to help prevent our Thinking Mind fusing with our emotions is "noting".

Andy Puddicombe of Headspace.com describes the use of noting in the context of meditation:

"Noting is applying a note or a label to a thought or a feeling that arises in the mind. So usually, in everyday life, we're so caught up in our thoughts and our feelings that we don't have any clarity, we don't have any awareness, so we tend to feel very overwhelmed.  But when we're able to see it clearly, to apply a note or a label to it, it gives this feeling of space. We don't identify so strongly with it, so it doesn't feel quite so heavy, quite so serious, it feels a little bit lighter.

But we need to apply noting in the right kind of way. To begin with, it's tempting to think that you have to try and catch every single thought... But it's not like that. It's only when you realise that the mind has actually wandered off, that you got completely distracted, and then it's like, "oh OK, oh that's thinking" or "oh, that's feeling" and then gently coming back to the object of focus.

When I was taught this I was always told to imagine that I had a crystal glass in one hand and a feather in the other. It's as though you just want to gently brush the glass with the feather... it's really, really gentle: "Oh OK, that's anxiety" and back to the object of focus."

Noting isn't easy, especially when strong emotion is involved. Meditation is one way we can practice it. But it's valuable because it offers a way to help us deal with our emotions that doesn't require us to attempt to suppress or avoid them. Noting helps us to acknowledge what we feel, while refusing to engage with it.

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