I started the group with a pot of tea, a charming coconut oolong. I said, “Today I’m going to teach you how to notice. Today we’re going to practice noticing.” Then we practiced seeing and hearing and touching and smelling and tasting the tea.
We heard the water bubble in the kettle. We heard the tea pour into the cups. We held the cups up to the light and saw the clear yellow-green tea sparkle. We touched the iron teapot with our hands, and we felt how warm it was. We smelled the tea. We drank it. We noticed how it lingered on our palates. Then I played this recording of a mockingbird I made last week, and we practiced noticing that too.
I told them to keep their ears open for the sound of the metro zooming by, ringing its bells, and for the crunching of fallen leaves under my slowly rolling bicycle tires at the end of the recording. They were amazed at how pleasurable listening to those everyday sounds was.
I said, “The amazing thing is, there’s absolutely nothing special about this recording. I just stopped my bike one day and pushed the record button on my phone. You could take your phone anywhere and press record, and you'd capture a beautiful soundtrack. Everywhere you go there is a soundtrack. It’s right there, wherever you are. All you have to do is tune in. All you have to do is notice it." Then we went outside -- one of my patients in a wheelchair, one with a walker, one with a crooked arm -- and we sat on the benches and we practiced noticing.
We heard the birds in the branches above us, mostly doves, and the soft breeze through the leaves. We heard the traffic going by, the fountain in the pond and the rumble of a faraway airplane.