A personal practice I call noticing was a theme that developed during a recent workshop I facilitated on “Trusting Your Heart and Intuition” in Spokane, Washington in January. Since I find myself recommending this practice to clients often these days, I thought I might include an excerpt on "noticing" from my forthcoming book Natural Way of Being. Here is an excerpt from Chapter 2: Noticing is the practice of objectively noticing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in your everyday experiences. This practice applies the principles of meditation to the experiences that
occur throughout the day. The intention of noticing is to increase your awareness of your natural way of being as you integrate it into your life.
The practice of noticing involves observing what you are experiencing in an inquisitive and non-judgmental manner. You might say, “Hmm, I really seem to be having a strong emotional reaction to my coworker challenging my idea. I seem to be really defensive. I wonder what that is about?” Can you feel the inquisitive tone? The intention is to simply notice what is going on in your heart.
Noticing is not trying to make change by analyzing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors intellectually. Integrating a natural way of being doesn’t work like that. Rather, you’re just noticing them and letting it go. It is trusting that when you notice the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of your experiences objectively and inquisitively, a natural shift will happen in its own time. The intellect resists this because it can’t think its way through it. It can't control it or force it to happen. Remind yourself, you are simply noticing and trusting.
This practice requires tremendous compassion for yourself. Honestly looking at the experiences of your day can be quite unsettling. It’s essential that you do not beat yourself up and get down on yourself. You are simply noticing what happened without getting emotionally attached to whether you did it correctly or not. One of the most powerful things to notice is, “That didn’t work out well at all. I wonder why?” There is no judgement, just the compassion and curiosity of wanting to know.
The practice of noticing naturally leads to encountering your shadow. The shadow is composed of the dark (and sometimes beautiful) aspects of yourself that are on the fringe of your consciousness. Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst and founder of analytical psychology, originated the concept of the shadow. He described it as “the thing a person has no wish to be.”
While encountering your shadow is sometimes daunting, there is huge potential for growth by embracing it. You simply use the practice of noticing to look at the shadow aspect of yourself that you are experiencing. Jung speaks to the value of embracing your shadow, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it.”
In Jungian psychology, the shadow includes both the dark and light aspects of yourself that are coming into consciousness. So in addition to your dark side, the shadow also includes aspects of yourself that are beautiful, powerful, and expansive. This is relevant to noticing a natural way of being which involves embracing the vast love and beauty which lies beyond the way you may typically see yourself.
The other day I noticed I was more interested in getting my point across than hearing about the perspective of the person I was relating to. I apparently thought that my point was more important than hers and was even talking over her. This form of arrogance was not aligned with how I saw myself, but I just noticed it. “That’s interesting,” I said to myself. And then I started listening.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.