Have you ever felt like you are watching your life through a glass? Do you tend to forget all the songs you've ever heard when someone asks you about your favourite song? Has it become difficult for you to recall what your best friend told you when you fought last weekend?
Don't worry, we're not diagnosing you with anything. In fact, we might have just the thing to help you!
It gets difficult to remember what we read last week, and to some, it almost feels like nothing is really registering in their minds. Life then becomes a ceaseless cycle of one event after another.
That is where the idea of 'mindful journaling' comes in.
Why I Started Journaling
Around October 2021, I entered my third semester of college. COVID had finally given us a respite – bags were packed, tickets were booked, and there I was, on my way to move states and start a completely new life, hundreds of kilometres away from my family.
Now, fair warning, I am one of those typical extroverts that you read posts on social media about. I did not have a particularly hard time settling in, finding my group of people, or even adjusting to the culture shock that most of my peers had a hard time handling.
Life was well for the most part of it, but a few months in, I began feeling a little lost. My life did not feel much like my own, and with every passing day, there was a sense of disconnect that kept intensifying.
One evening, I decided to sit down with myself and start journaling, but the moment my pen touched the handmade page of my diary, I began crying. Not the loud, ugly sobs, but silent tears flowing down my cheeks. I began writing but I could not finish.
I had to put it down.
I sought help from a counsellor and this one thing that she told me stuck with me.
“You need to build a stronger sense of self.’’
That's when I began searching and discovered the 'art of mindful journaling'.
What Is Mindful Journaling?
Firstly, mindful journaling, contrary to popular opinion, is different from your average late-night journaling.
Journaling, as a process, is an extremely healthy way to unwind the happenings of your day (or week), get into the nitty-gritty of your past and your reactions and emotions, and to contemplate making goals for your future.
Mindful journaling is more of a meditation than a simple sit-down session with a notebook and a pen. For an effective mindful journaling session, you might want to take help. Journal prompts or even a mentor who can guide your thinking pattern are useful.
Now, How Do You Go About It?
If you buy a mindful journal, then turn to the page of that date and read it first.
Usually, each new day has a different prompt that aims to make you think deeply and honestly. Each question delves deep into your dreams, ideas, and insecurities. Take your time, read through each line, and stop to think.
Do not let yourself be pressured into writing the answer right then and there. Remember, there is no time limit and no race to heal faster.
Mindful journaling helps you connect with your core and nurtures the most important relationship you will have in your life – with yourself.
There will be questions that might seem simple at first, but once you start writing, you will realise how difficult the process can be.
Be patient and gentle with yourself. Do not berate yourself for what you feel and drop all judgements.
Mindful Journal Prompts
Questions that you can expect:
What do you desire today?
Did you notice something about your body?
What was your first thought in the morning today?
Recall a moment when you felt most hurt today. Show compassion and do this without any judgement.
The prompts do not have to be necessarily from another source. Once you get the hang of it, you can start truly making it your own journal.
The only thing you need to remember is to have an end goal. If you make your own prompts, then you must not evade any feeling or incident, regardless of how painful it might be.
Make sure to plan a proper sequence, read up online, or make use of digital journals.
Make Your Journal Your Own
Now, the journal is going to be about serious things but it is yours, and the most important thing is for you to have fun with it.
This is your canvas.
You can read, write, paint, draw, paste cut-outs, or even go old-school and write the lyrics to your favourite song.
This journal should be your home. It should be inviting.
Fill it with your happy thoughts, your excitements, your dreams, your doubts. Make it truly your own and be bare.
What Not To Do
1. There should absolutely be no pressure you put on yourself to answer each question, if you do not physically feel ready for it.
2. There is no timeline. You make the timeline for yourself.
3. Try to go for an offline journal than a digital one. Digital journals can sometime be less effective and ruin the process for you entirely.
4. Give yourself time and a chance. You will not become a changed person overnight but with enough kindness, you will see a change in the way you treat yourself.
5. Meditation is a slow practice and so is this. Be consistent and trust the process.
6. Do not trivialise your emotions, even if it is the smallest of things.
7. Do not rush into making prompts if you do not know how to. It is okay to ask for help.
8. And most importantly, do not break the cycle! Stop being shy or lazy and start moving.