Posted by: Bruce Black | August 1, 2011

The Process of Noticing

On my way to the airport last month, I was looking forward to time alone on the flight to work on a new project.

But when I reached the gate, I found two of my neighbors who were scheduled to take the same flight.

So, instead of writing, I ended up talking to them.

It was lovely to find friends at the gate, but I had to remind myself to stop wishing I could be alone, writing. That was the challenge. Could I stay in the moment talking to friends rather than wishing that I was doing something else?

It’s a challenge to be present in each moment, and noticing my feelings of impatience and frustration that morning helped me see how I was missing the moment.

How do we begin to notice each moment of our life?

Each time I step onto my mat to practice, I’m reminded to pay greater attention to each moment.

In Savasana, I lie on my back and listen to the instructor encourage us to let our heels and hips sink into the earth, to let our lips part, to release the tension in the corners of our lips and eyes.

I begin to scan my body in Child Pose, to notice how my neck might feel in Triangle, or how my back might feel in an Intense Forward Bend. Do I feel tense? Stressed? Relaxed?

These questions seep into my life off the mat.

At lunch with a friend or driving to work, I notice when I feel tense or stressed, and I try to relax and ask myself what is causing the tension.

The process of noticing helps me better understand my response in certain situations, such as why I might snap at my daughter when I find her unwashed dishes in the sink, or why I become upset when my wife leaves her teacup on the counter after breakfast instead of putting it in the dishwasher.

Yoga teaches me to ask these questions and to notice when I need to ask them.

On the mat, each pose helps me notice how my body feels. Do I feel resentful when we do backbends because my upper back is so rigid? Do I welcome hip openers because I find them so restful?

Noticing how I respond to these poses helps me move into them with greater ease and skill.

Over time the skill of noticing how I feel in a pose flows naturally into my daily life.

Each moment gives us a new opportunity to notice where (and who) we are as each pose of our life unfolds.

Practice Journal:

How can you become more aware of each moment of your life? How can you learn to notice the smallest details so you can live each moment more fully?

Try starting with the sound of your breath. Sit in a comfortable position and listen to the sound your breath makes as you inhale and exhale. Feel your chest rise and fall. Notice the way your body shifts with each breath. And then close your eyes and notice how shutting your eyes can make you more alert to the sounds around you. What do you hear? Can you stay in the moment or does your mind wander?

Afterward, use your journal to record what you may have noticed and how closing your eyes may have helped increase your ability to move into the moment more fully.

And after your practice, try noticing how you feel at different moments during your day–while sitting at your desk, while driving, while talking to your mother or sister or brother. How do you feel in the moment? And does noticing how you feel help bring you more fully into the moment?



  1. This situation is a good example of how to deal with an inner conflict when our agenda is interrupted or our needs are not being met. Noticing. Noticing when something is wrong in relating to life and practice.
    A good reminder and teaching on not only being present to the moment, but also on making a choice.
    Thank you, Bruce.

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