Cheryl's Blog

Feeling anxious and afraid? Meet “The Noticer”

The day began on a high note. I felt rested and happy as I placed the last pillow on the bed, tucked in the corners of the duvet, and switched off the lamp before leaving the room. As I walked downstairs, I noticed sunlight streaming through the deck doors and felt even better. There’s nothing like a sunny autumn morning in New England.

When I stepped into the kitchen, though, everything changed. A memory popped into my head of a conversation I’d had the day before while at the grocery store. I bumped into a colleague I hadn’t seen in years and while having a friendly chat about her latest work, she abruptly ended our meeting and left the store. I stood in the frozen food section baffled by her behavior. What the heck just happened, I wondered to myself. But I quickly resumed shopping and left both the store and the conversation behind.

Until this morning. When I stepped into the kitchen, out of nowhere, my mind grabbed ahold of this random memory and began weaving multiple storylines that each ended with me as the villain. I must have said something wrong. Maybe I didn’t say something I should have said. Did I offend her in some way? As the stories became nuanced and detailed (because the mind knows exactly how to create emotional chaos), each evoked a different response: confusion, embarrassment, guilt, and shame. When I felt a shame attack coming on I hit the pause button. Firmly.

Hey, knock it off, I said to my malicious mind. Don’t be mean to me.

Then, I consciously and intentionally put an end to the mind-made meddling by shifting my focus to a list of things I felt grateful for: The sunflowers that showed up in the garden unannounced, the way Berty stands on his hind legs waiting for breakfast, seeing Jupiter resting beneath the full moon the night before, and the return of bluebirds feasting at the feeder.

This practice of noticing when the mind goes rogue, stopping it in its tracks, and rewriting the script with gratitude (along with a daily meditation practice) is helping me to cultivate “Self” awareness. This awareness grows when we habitually make the distinction between the thinking mind – the storyteller who gets her material from the past, and the Self – the one who lives in the present and can see the mind and its machinations. She is The Noticer.

To develop a sense of ourselves as souls and to cultivate a calm inner state, we must learn to notice The Noticer. She’s the one who catches the mind when it’s gone down the rabbit hole of storytelling. She knows these stories are usually based on historical material that comes from pain, unhealed wounds, and past critical voices. The material that makes us anxious, fearful, and ready to fight.

The Noticer returns us to love.

In my wisdom years, I’m making the Noticer my beloved, my best friend, a wise parent, and my go-to healing hand when I need comfort and peace. This is *the* relationship I invest my time and energy into these days because it not only allows me to shift from suffering to sanity, it affords me the ability to be a loving, helpful presence in the world.

There’s a new filmmaker in town. Her consciousness is her spotlight and where she places this light determines the quality of her viewing experience.

Where will you place yours?



Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash