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  • Writer's pictureHans Reihling

Discover the Power of Mental Noting: 4 Simple Mindfulness Techniques for Managing Stress

Are you tired of feeling overwhelmed and anxious?

It's time to try the transformative power of mental noting, a simple yet effective mindfulness technique that can help you increase self-awareness and inner peace. Mental noting involves paying attention to and labeling your inner experiences, such as body sensations, emotions, and thoughts. There are four main ways to practice mental noting:

Tip #1 - Noting the Breath

You can focus on your breath and label its qualities or movements, such as "rising, falling, rising, falling" or "quick, slow." You can also describe the breath as "shallow" or "deep," or notice if the in-breath is shorter or longer than the out-breath. Follow the breath, which involves simply paying attention to the sensation of the breath as it moves in and out of the body. This can be done with an open and curious attitude, without trying to control the breath. It’s important to let go of judgments and expectations when practicing mindfulness of breathing. This means not judging the breath as "good" or "bad." Instead, the practice is to simply notice the breath and allow it to be as it is. This can be incredibly liberating.

Tip #2 - Noting Sensations

You can use mental noting to manage physical sensations, including pain, by being specific about how the sensation feels, such as "sharp" or "itchy." You can also use mental noting to observe other physical sensations, such as body tension or itchiness. One way to note sensations is through "body scanning," which you can do any time standing, sitting and laying down. Bring your attention to different parts of your body, by starting with the tips of your toes and going upward to the tip of your head. Notice any sensations that arise with the mindset of curiosity. This can be done with an open and curious attitude, without trying to change the sensations or make them go away.

"Can you see it clearly as an impulse, a thought, a desire, a judgment, and let it be here and let it go without being drawn into it, without investing it with a power it doesn't have, without losing yourself in the process." – John Kabat-Zinn

Tip #3 - Noting Emotions

Noting emotions in mindfulness involves paying attention to and labeling your emotional experiences as they arise. This can help you gain a different perspective on your emotions and potentially alleviate stress. When you notice an emotion, you can simply label it with a word or phrase, such as "anger," "sadness," or "fear." It can be helpful to use specific and descriptive words to label your emotions, rather than general terms like “stress. By acknowledging and labeling your emotions in a non-judgmental way, you can develop a more mindful and compassionate relationship with them and thus with yourself. This can be especially helpful for emotions that are difficult or uncomfortable, as it allows you to embrace your experience without becoming upset about having a certain emotion.

Tip #4 - Noting Thoughts

When your mind is busy going in circles, don’t get caught up in the content of your thoughts. Become aware of the fact that thoughts come and go and ask yourself "What is it about in this moment?" It's important to stay with the present experience and give it a simple label, without adding any additional analysis or judgment. For example, if your mind is fixated on shopping, just label the thoughts “shopping” and label the next theme that arises. This practice can be similar to coding an interview transcript, where the goal is to identify, name, and categorize a phenomenon without evaluating it. By continuously summarizing your experience with a word or two, you may gain insight into how your mind works and the processes that are occurring. It's important to focus on the process rather than the content of your experience.

Befriend your inner experiences

In conclusion, mental noting is a simple yet powerful mindfulness technique that involves paying attention to and labeling your inner experiences, such as body sensations, emotions, and thoughts. This practice can help you create distance between yourself and experiences and helps you become aware of what is happening in the present moment. By regularly practicing mental noting, you can enhance your mindfulness and improve your ability to deal with overwhelm and anxiety in daily life. When you know what's going on inside of you, you more likely to make an informed decision about your next step. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced meditator, mental noting is a valuable tool that can help you cultivate present-moment awareness and a more compassionate and mindful relationship with yourself and the world around you.


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