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“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.” – Jen Williamson
My wife asked me what I wanted to do this morning, and I quickly responded, "Let's spend time on mindfulness journaling."
I think I caught her rolling her eyes as she said she was going to continue watching television.
My wife doesn't know what she's missing.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Mindfulness Journaling?
- 2 Mindfulness Journaling Benefits - What it Does for You
- 3 Mindfulness Journaling Prompts - How to Become a Mindful Master
- 4 Other Mindfulness Journaling Tips to Fully Immerse Yourself in the Exercise
- 5 Is Journaling Like Meditation?
- 6 What are the 7 Main Obstacles to Practice Mindfulness Journaling?
- 7 Daily Mindfulness Journal - Final Thoughts
What is Mindfulness Journaling?
Mindfulness journaling is the act of expressively examining what is in your head and in your heart.
Mindful journaling is meditative writing.
It is asking yourself why you feel a certain way (anger, happiness, frustration, love) and then let it go ... out of your head and onto the paper.
Mindfulness journaling is a practice of deliberately and non-judgmentally paying attention to your internal and external experiences.
It is a way to intentionally focus your mind on the present moment, and anchor yourself in the here and now instead of overly dwelling on the past and/or worrying about the future.
We are constantly receiving input from the world around us.
From our senses, we take in information about our surroundings that can be perceived by the five senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.
These perceptions give us a sense of what is happening in our environment at any given moment.
We also receive information from our bodies through sensations that we feel, such as hunger, thirst, comfort or discomfort, temperature change and more.
Our minds also generate thoughts that add another dimension to our experience.
The combination of these three elements makes up mindfulness journaling: perception of the world around us through sensations and senses; perceptions from within ourselves through bodily sensations; and perceptions from within ourselves through thoughts.
Mindfulness journaling is more than just a place to write down your thoughts and feelings. It's a place to explore your current experience, express gratitude for your blessings, and reflect on how you can live a happier life with an emphasis on the changes you can make NOW.
There are many ways to use a mindfulness journal, but they all share some common elements:
*Writing regularly. This can be daily or weekly, but it should be something you can do consistently.
*Noticing what you're thinking and feeling about the present moment. This is important for developing self-awareness, which is essential for responding appropriately to what happens in your life.
*Reflecting on how you can live a happier life, based on your experiences in the present moment. This is what makes mindfulness journaling different from other types of journaling, such as keeping an online diary or writing in a dream journal (although there are definitely some similarities).
You don't need anything special to get started with mindfulness journaling—just a pen and some paper will do. If you prefer typing on your phone or computer, that works too!
As someone who is psychologically oriented, a follower of mindfulness-based therapies who journals regularly, I can attest to the healing power of mindful journaling.
I'm hoping to encourage you to become a "mindful journalist," so let me quickly review its myriad benefits.
Mindfulness Journaling Benefits - What it Does for You
Before I dive into specific mindfulness journaling benefits, I should define the term "mindfulness" itself.
"When you are mindful, you are able to savor the pleasures of life, and you will become fully engaged in whatever you’re doing." - Neal Hoffman
In its simplest form, mindfulness is something we all have; it’s the ability to be aware of what we’re doing in the present moment.
Being mindful means not dwelling on regrets about the past or worrying about the future. It helps us to focus on what matters most —the here and now.
As well as being beneficial for our mental health, mindfulness can also help us physically.
Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness regularly can reduce blood pressure, inflammation in the body, decrease chronic pain, improve sleep, and exert other tangible improvements.
Here are just a sample of mindfulness journaling benefits:
Mindfulness Journaling Prompts - How to Become a Mindful Master
Aware of mindfulness journaling benefits, you may now be inclined to perform this exercise.
It starts with pen and paper (or a working computer or smartphone to type), and free-flowing ideas.
Mindfulness journaling prompts are writing prompts you can use to check in with yourself and reflect on your life.
They help you track and explore what you’re feeling, thinking, and doing.
Journaling prompts offer you a supportive structure that helps guide your thoughts. You don’t have to be an accomplished writer to perform journaling.
The purpose of the mindfulness journal is not to create a written masterpiece, but to help you find clarity with yourself through writing.
You can use these mindfulness journal prompts at any time during the day when you want to step back from the busyness of your life.
Take a few minutes for some self-reflection and more self-awareness.
You can use them as often as possible or whenever you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or introspective.
The best way to understand mindfulness journal prompts is to see them in action. Here are several examples to give you a general idea of what mindfulness journal prompts look like:
* I feel most mindful when...
* I now express gratitude for...
* When I am feeling overwhelmed, I will remind myself to…
* Am I holding any tension in my body? If so, where and how can I release it?
* How can I show myself compassion during this moment of mindfulness?
* What do I need the most from myself right now?
* List and describe 3 ways to treat myself with more kindness?
* Today is beautiful because...
* Today I’m learning to…
* I’m now releasing tension over…
As you can see, mindfulness journal prompts are prompts (questions and explorative statements) that allow you to examine your life and behavior in a deeper way.
They encourage you to think critically about your life, as well as express yourself. Mindfulness journal prompts center on self-reflection and self-awareness.
Here are other examples:
The mindfulness journal prompt examples above should get you started and help you to churn your own creative juices for self-exploration.
Mindfulness journal prompts can be a great way to get your mind thinking in a new, more productive and positive direction!
How do you structure a Mindfulness Journal Using Prompts?
A mindfulness journal can be structured or unstructured — it’s entirely up to you!
There are no set rules when it comes to keeping a journal, so design it in whatever way works best for you.
You could keep an ongoing list of things that happened each day, or record your thoughts on specific topics like love, relationships, or health.
Or perhaps you’d prefer to practice free writing where you just let your thoughts flow onto the page without any structure at all.
Whatever way you choose to use your journal, make sure it’s comfortable for you — it should feel good to write in it, not like a chore.
You also choose the time and place.
Other Mindfulness Journaling Tips to Fully Immerse Yourself in the Exercise
The goal here is not to become the best mindfulness journaling practitioner on the planet.
The objective is simply to increase self-awareness, self-love and compassion, while eventually mitigating all those immobilizing negative emotions.
Here are some crucial journaling tips:
Tips for Effective Mindfulness Journaling
1. Set aside time for journaling every day, even if it's just 5 minutes. It's best if you do it at the same time each day, so it becomes habit. You might try morning journaling as part of your daily routine. Or keep a journal by your bedside and write before going to sleep or first thing when you wake up in the morning.
2. When you sit down for your mindful journaling session, allow yourself time to settle into the present moment. Take three long breaths and notice how they feel moving through your body.
3.As you foment the relaxation response, just go with the flow. What do you wish to learn about yourself today? Let your intuition guide you and see what you wish to explore about yourself in the moment.
4. If you're feeling uneasy about the lack of structure, or if you're uncertain what to write about, consider the following: It might help to pick different topics for each day of the week when starting out (e.g., Monday = relationships, Tuesday = body image, Wednesday = work stressors).
5. Be patient with yourself. If you're not ready to expound on more challenging or traumatic experiences, give yourself time to do so as you gain more experience with mindfulness journaling.
6. Remember that mindfulness journaling is not composed of a set of rules. The way you practice mindfulness journaling is through trial and error. See what works for you, and determine, and resolve, obstacles that are getting in the way.
7 Don't judge yourself. This tip is especially important if you're new to mindfulness practices. It's normal to find yourself judging your words as they appear on the page - either negatively or positively but this practice will only hold you back from the benefits of mindful writing. Instead, let your thoughts flow freely onto the page without editing or judging them.
The best way to get better at journaling is to write a lot. You can't get better at mindfulness journaling if you don't practice it.
Journaling doesn't have to be a huge time commitment. I find 10-15 minutes a day is my sweet spot.
If I journal when I wake up, I find it helps me plan my day and focus on what's important.
If I journal later in the day, it helps me reflect on what happened and what could have gone better.
Your mindfulness journaling mileage may vary.
“Writing eases my suffering . . . writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence.” – Gao Xingjian
Is Journaling Like Meditation?
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.
Journaling is meditation, and the process of it rather than the content itself should be your goal.
When you're journaling, you're not necessarily trying to get to any particular place in your thoughts or reach any particular goal, except for being present with yourself and your thoughts. and producing a state of deep relaxation, calm, and/or clarity.
Meditation helps us to connect to ourselves and our true essence, while journaling helps us to express who we are and what we feel at any given time.
Both practices offer a time for self-reflection, but in different ways.
What are the 7 Main Obstacles to Practice Mindfulness Journaling?
Mindfulness journaling, or mindful journaling, is the practice of writing in a journal with an increased awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
When practiced regularly, mindfulness journaling can result in improved self-awareness, clearer thinking, increased emotional intelligence, and better decision making.
But despite its myriad benefits, discussed earlier, too many people, like my wife, are reluctant to embrace it as a meditative practice.
Here are the 7 main reasons why:
1) One obstacle to practice mindfulness journaling is that you think it will be boring. If you start with this meditative practice, you can get stuck in a loop of over-analyzing your thoughts and feelings. This might make you feel bored and not really understand what mindfulness is about.
2) Another obstacle to practice mindfulness journaling is that you think it will be too much work. It takes effort to sit still and focus on this exercise. If you are busy with work or school, thinking about writing might seem like too much effort.
3) People think it won't work for them. They don't believe that fundamental life-changing ideas can spring from writing their thoughts and perceptions down. Sadly, some people may also feel that their problems are unsolvable and therefore can't be helped by journaling.
4) Folks assert there is a lack of time to journal: Life is busy! Finding time to journal can feel like an additional burden. While carving out a few minutes is always possible, the idea of doing so can seem overwhelming.
5) Mindfulness journaling may be considered too personal. Writing down private thoughts can leave people feeling vulnerable, especially if they feel others will read their journal.
6) It's not easy ruminating about thoughts and writing down innermost emotions that arise. This is especially true when journalists write about particularly traumatic experiences.
7) Mindfulness journaling is about expressing how you feel right now, not about writing something perfect or profound. Too many people analyze and judge the content of their reflections and words.
But despite all these challenges, I encourage you to at least start mindfulness journaling and see how it goes for you.
Daily Mindfulness Journal - Final Thoughts
“Preserve your memories, keep them well, what you forget you can never retell.” – Louisa May Alcott
A daily mindfulness journal can help you reconnect with yourself and take stock of your life; it can help you process your emotions and achieve clarity; it can help you become more self-aware, improve your relationships, develop a stronger sense of spirituality, and much more.
It is a therapeutic practice that combines mindfulness with writing. It involves reflecting on your experiences, thoughts, and emotions in a nonjudgmental, loving, and compassionate way.
It can be used in conjunction with the following:
* Bullet journaling — An organizational method that helps you keep track of your plans for the day/week/etc.
* Free writing — Writing continuously for a set period of time to explore your thoughts and feelings without worrying about grammar or style.
* Guided journaling — Following prompts to reflect on specific topics or questions. (Prompting plays a crucial role in guided or mindfulness journaling.)
* Gratitude journaling — Keeping track of things you're grateful for each day to increase your happiness.
* Stream-of-consciousness writing — Putting down all the thoughts in your head as they come.
In my experience, the benefits of journaling have far outweighed the challenges.
I've found journaling invaluable in helping me make important decisions and, ultimately, get more out of life.
I've also found that it's a useful tool for tracking physical and mental health.
For example, by journaling, I've been able to identify patterns in my behavior and moods. For example, I was able to see that my mood swings were correlated with my workout schedule (when I missed a workout, it had an impact on my mood).
Similarly, journals are a good way to reflect on your life.
The most interesting thing about journaling is looking back months or years later at what you wrote during particular times in your life. It really helps you appreciate how much you've grown and how much you've learned.
Do as William Wordsworth advised, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
You, and my wife (if she is willing to branch out), just may find this exercise life-changing!