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  • Writer's pictureAlison

Take 20: Chapter 6 - what have you stopped noticing because it's become too familiar?

This exercise invites you to slow down, take a different perspective and pay attention to your environment and the people within it.

The focus throughout is on paying attention in a different way. You may find it challenging to still yourself so we suggest setting a timer for 5 minutes each time. When your mind wanders, we invite you to just notice it, and bring it back to focus on the question. Embrace any discomfort you may feel as part of this exercise.


You may want to just think, make notes, draw or doodle. Decide first if you will need pen and paper, possibly some coloured pens and then find a comfy chair.

As you go through the different parts of the exercise remember to breathe in a rhythm that is right for you, nourishing your body with oxygen to relax your nervous system.

Part 1

Choose a different direction or orientation than usual – possibly 90 or 180 degrees away from your usual view. Allowing your breath to go a little deeper, look around and allow your gaze to land somewhere that interests you.

Maintain the rhythm of your breathing and zoom in – even closer – and as you breathe deeper, take in the details, notice the colour, the texture of where your focus lands, and with soft deep breaths imagine what it would feel like to touch or notice the smell. Stay with this place and keep noticing what you haven’t noticed before.

Part 2

Our invitation is to really slow down – because the research shows us that we can increase our sense of well-being and resource by slowing down and paying close attention to something.

For the next 5 minutes please focus on your environment over the last 24 hours – noticing details around, colour, texture, light, how you feel and how you move around the environment – retrace your steps and notice the detail of what’s around you – what might you have missed without realising?

Imagine a video in your mind’s eye - Pause that video and describe it in detail before moving to the next moment that you want to pause, and capture it in a way that feels right for you. If your mind wanders, just come back to this place.

Part 3

Acknowledging what you have gathered around your environment, bring your attention to the people of the last 24 hours – who you saw, who you connected with either by phone, email, text, social media, online platform or simply by thinking about them. Notice now the details of those interactions and thoughts. Again, If you could pause the video in your mind’s eye and describe it in detail before moving to the next moment that you want to pause on.

Part 4

Holding all that you notice from the last 24 hours, what do you want to pay attention to tomorrow? What do you intend to notice, to say and to do? This may be in your environment, the connection with others or both?

Finally, look back at what you have noted or drawn and gather up what is important to you.

If you like this exercise a downloadable version is here:

Take 20 Chapter 6_What have you stopped
Download • 199KB

Take 20 is inspired and adapted from The Write Place™ with thanks to Elaine Patterson and Karyn Prentice of PattersonPrenticeDesigns

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