Sometimes when we meditate we have exceptional experiences that we wouldn’t trade for anything. Other times we end up feeling bewildered or frustrated by the whole process. This is a natural pendulum effect that most meditators can relate to. Can keeping a meditation journal help?
Mindfulness is a progressive path that requires a good deal of patience. At some point you may find yourself in a rut where you wonder if your practice is stuck or even meaningless. It can be tempting to take a break from meditation or quit it altogether, even when you know deep down that it would be better to keep going. Keeping a meditation journal to document daily practice sessions can be a great motivator to keep you sitting and give you insights about how best to continue.
Benefits of meditation journals
One benefit of keeping a meditation journal is that, with time, it can give you some hindsight concerning your practice. Whether or not you’re getting the results you were hoping for isn’t quite the point – you will see a change over time, and this will inspire you to continue meditating. A journal may help you realize that your practice influences your daily life in positive ways off the cushion as well.
If you’ve been feeling stuck for a while now, it’s time to check in with a meditation instructor. A genuine teacher can help you identify and implement any necessary changes to your technique. He or she can also tell you when you’re on the right path and just need to develop more patience, and can help you understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. For this, a journal can be a very helpful reference to share. Maybe it’s your posture that has to be adjusted or… maybe it’s your expectations. Most long-term practitioners would agree that the hurdles are where they’ve learned the most.
As meditators, we constantly adjust our practice according to what we need to work on. Sometimes we need to loosen up; sometimes we need more discipline. Keeping a meditation journal helps us to review how our practice has changed over the past weeks and months. But a journal should in no case serve as a tool we might use to judge our meditation. This view is consistent with the open-mindedness that we cultivate: we are simply bearing witness to what is experienced, and don’t need to applaud or condemn it as we write or read in the future.
We all have good days and bad days – at work, in our family and social lives, and when we sit. The important thing is to keep meditating every day, and to be aware of where we are and what we’re experiencing for those few minutes a day without self-congratulation and without despair.
Rachel Parrish, an advanced meditation instructor, says that meditation helps us change our habitual patterns and give us a new perspective. Few things are as boring as following a preset way of life! We all need a pinch of adventure, a touch of mystery and a slice of laughter every now and then. Meditation journals can help us break the mold and open our horizons.
Given the benefits of meditation journals, ask yourself if you’d like to try keeping one and journaling your sessions. It may help you grow more focused and fine-tune your technique. Check out this post for more information: Top Ten Easy Tips on How to Meditate. Most importantly, keep on sitting! And when you get writer’s cramp, you can take an online meditation course in mindfulness of breathing, so you’ll have something to write home about!