By now, everybody knows of the benefits of meditation. It’s not just a great way to gain a brief moment of clarity and peace, but it can also improve your health while reducing stress levels.
Journaling is a meditative practice too. It’s particularly helpful for those moments when quieting your mind from all the concerns is a real challenge.
For many people, journaling is beneficial because it creates a channel for those thoughts to be expressed and let go. Unfortunately, many people are hesitant to write their thoughts down on paper. They worry their writing might not be good enough, or their thoughts are not interesting to be written down. You must recognise that your journal is for you. Journaling is meditation, and the process of it rather than the content itself should be your goal.
Here are some tips to help you harvest your intentions and deliver them onto paper (or digital device). They will help you integrate journaling into your daily routine.
Use writing prompts
For many people, the biggest challenge is knowing where to start. There’s often so much to say, but thoughts can be complicated to express.
Journaling prompts are an excellent way to get started. Nowadays, you can find a wide variety of meditation journals with prompts like:
- How do you practice mindful movement?
- List ways you will practise being calm
- Three things that brought me a smile this week
- Unconditional love looks like this
Once you start writing, feel free to see where the words take you.
Take advantage of apps
We often think about our smartphones as distractions, which they usually are. But there are also journaling apps that give you the freedom and flexibility to write in your journal from anywhere. You can use them only for prompts and then write in a separate notebook. Or you can write directly into your smartphone or device.
If you use one, however, be careful about your digital safety. Be sure to use a VPN anytime you journal on your digital device. It encrypts your connection to the servers of the app. Also, protect your account, and thus, journal, with a strong password. Likewise, if you do write on your phone, you may want to disable notifications so you can stay focused on journaling.
Take a mindful moment before writing
Journaling is a form of mediation. But sometimes it helps to do a little breath work before you begin to write. Focus on your breathing for a few moments. It will help your mind and body to relax and gain clarity.
You don’t have to spend too much time; a few minutes will do. Mindful breathing makes it easier to not only get started but also prevent a writer’s block while journaling.
Commit to an amount of time
Meditation is a balance between structure and unstructured energy. But if you’re busy, it’s easy to write for a few minutes and say you’ve achieved your goal.
The whole point of meditation is to carve out space for yourself. So, commit to it. Set a minimum of 10–15 minutes for journaling. If necessary, set a timer to reduce the urge to check what time it is.
Read your journal
You’ll be surprised what you can learn about yourself from your journal. When you’re finished writing, take time to read back over what you’ve written — preferably out loud. It may be challenging at first, but doing so gives a voice to your thoughts to help you better connect with them. Be sure to revisit your journal entries periodically to connect with your past self.
Return to your prompt
After a minute, you might run out of steam; that’s OK. If that happens, return to your prompt and start again.
Prompts are usually open-ended, allowing for a diversity of interpretations. You can write new things or express the same thoughts again. Let your thoughts flow and see where they take you.
End with a few mindful breaths
As you began with a few breaths, so, too, should you end. It gives you a few moments to let what you did sink in while preparing you for what lies ahead.
Mindfulness and meditation take time. Journaling is one of the best ways to develop it. Start slowly and consciously with one or two of these strategies. Eventually, your journaling will blossom to an integral part of your meditative practice.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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