Take five minutes

The whole thing about sitting quietly and noticing is hard to do. The whole thought of it may sound boring. But the thing about noticing is that it gets us to decrease auto-pilot behavior. Auto-pilot behavior is the kind of thing we do when emotions take over, and we are not in the pilot seat flying the airplane.

So here is an exercise on noticing. Sit quietly and get in touch with your breath. Then try to sit still for five minutes. Focus all of your attention on the rising and falling of your breath.

Here are some of the things you might notice:

An urge to get up, change position, or do something “worthwhile.”

An itch.


A desire to shift your position.

Difficulty staying in touch with your breathing.

Thoughts about your future, past, or present.

Emotional pain.

Problem solving, ruminating.

Thinking about what you are going to do after the exercise.


Thinking about what you are going to say to someone.

Thinking about what you said to someone.

Physical pain.

Wondering what is the point of the exercise.

Wondering if this will help you solve problems.


Wondering if there is something else that would work better.

Hearing sounds or noises in your environment.

Feeling your heart beating.

Having your cat, pet, or child interrupt you.

Tension in your body.

Wondering if you turned off the coffee pot or the stove.

A desire not to do the exercise.

Wondering how much longer you will have to sit still.

Wondering if you timed yourself for five minutes, if the five minutes is up or not.

Difficulty paying attention to your breathing.

Feeling anxious or energetic.

Having a phone conversation or other conversation in your head.

Trying to figure out how to tell your DBT skills therapist or meditation instructor that you have ADHD, and that this not only impossible, but indeed rather silly.



So if you could try to notice for five minutes…Hard to do? Absolutely. When I took my mindfulness based cognitive therapy class, they made us sit for a whole hour and do this sort of thing. Can you imagine??