Meditation, mindfulness in particular, is a way to cultivate conscious awareness of yourself, the world you’re in and the moment as it is, here and now. By adding a contemplative aspect to your meditation practice, you allow yourself to both constructively reflect more and to carefully pinpoint your goals or deepest desires with your meditation practice and your life in general.
In other words, if you’re looking to bring more harmony and understanding to your life, a meditation journal can be a helpful tool.
What is a meditation journal?
A meditation journal is a tool in the form of a handy notebook where you write down what happens to you, what you feel and how you think before, during and after you meditate. A notebook of any kind works fine.
There are many types of journals and diaries out there, some of which serve a specific purpose, like a gratitude journal which in some ways comes close to the function of a meditation journal.
There are many uses for a journal specifically for meditation. For example you can list and keep track of what meditation techniques you’ve used during the day, the time, location and setting. Meditation journaling can also track the content of your thoughts before and after a meditation session, which can be quite valuable when it comes to knowing your rich interior life more intimately.
The benefits of a meditation journal
The benefits of meditation are many, ranging from stress, anxiety and pain relief to boosting focus and improving sleep. Thus it is plausible that the benefits of having a meditation journal is to a certain degree linked to those benefits as well. However, in case you’re not sure about the specific benefits of adding a journal to your meditation practice, here are a few quick ones to think about.
A meditation journal can:
- give you the chance to mindfully examine your meditation session through the intellect by evaluating, reflecting and applying what you’ve learnt.
- compel you to take your meditation practice more “seriously”.
- allow you to become more aware of weaknesses, distractions, hindrances or tendencies which may be inhibiting your spiritual growth.
- allow you to keep track of the nature of your meditation experiences and how you’ve development and changed over time.
- give you the opportunity to see which meditation techniques work the best for you.
All in all, a meditation journal can help you to grow in wisdom, understanding and compassion.
How to start your meditation journal
Starting your meditation journal isn’t supposed to be difficult. What you’ll need most of all is a open-mind and a nice notebook of some sort, say something like this 180-paged 8.4″ x 5.7″ banded journal with lines by Lemome, will do what you need just fine.
Creating a meditation space in your home can be a good idea. This can mean to have a meditation cushion, yoga mat, some candles and a meditation altar available, these are things that can do great for creating that meditative atmosphere. By creating a serene space that is in service to your meditation practice, you’re essentially honouring, respecting and loving yourself more. That being said, there’s no need to over do it, a minimalistic approach works just as well, if not better.
Learning different ways of meditating could be another good thing for you to look into. There are many ways of inducing the meditative state, ranging from vipassana and mindfulness to mantras and moving meditations. By employing different techniques at different times can help you identify which technique is the most effective when it comes to increasing your wellbeing and overall happiness.
What to write
What you choose to put in your meditation journal is completely up to you. Meditation isn’t supposed to be rigid, stale and dogmatic, if it is, it’s not really meditation. An entry in your journal can be as simple as a sentence, a paragraph, a doodle, drawing or just a couple of words. The important thing is to reflect upon the meditation session, in whatever way, shape or form that it takes and comes most natural.
Here are some potential things to keep track of in your journal:
- Where you are: The location and environment you find yourself in when starting your meditation.
- What day and time it is: By recording the time and date, you can see your progress and how you’ve developed chronologically.
- Meditation technique: What technique and practice you decide to use. For example if you’re doing sitting meditation or the candle gazing meditation.
- The duration: Knowing how long you meditate for can be another useful thing to be aware of.
- Feelings, thoughts and perceptions: How you feel, what you’re thinking about and the immediate sense perceptions in the field of your consciousness.
- Insights, observations and realizations: If any observations stick out in the form of insights and realizations, you can write them down, this will make you understand it even better.
By combining meditation and creative writing you can set yourself up for a healthier and more balanced life. To understand yourself is no easy task when you’re constantly distracted by this, that and the other. Moreover in these increasingly hectic times knowing yourself can seem to be harder than ever before.
Meditation allows you to create a space between yourself as an observer and the objects that are being observed. A meditation journal can further clarify what exactly you’re observing, because trust me it’s not easy to always know what it exactly is that you’re feeling, thinking and even doing.
By cultivating conscious awareness of yourself is truly one the greatest gifts you can give yourself, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized deep relaxations of the psyche when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history and philosophy at Uppsala Universitet, as he is currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist, Yogic and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.