Reflective writing is a meditation
By being in touch with your own thoughts and feelings in the now, you can harness internal peace of mind.
Known as meditation, the practice of evaluating your own thoughts is a well-researched practice that has long been a part of the human culture. By teaching yourself to observe and control where your mind goes while simultaneously allowing emotions to ebb and flow like waves on the shore, you become more aware of yourself and how your actions affect the world around you. The benefits of meditation are backed by science.
Yet sitting in a quiet place for a period of time isn’t the only way to harness this mastery of the mind. You can also keep a journal.
While you may have started one as a child without knowing it’s benefits, journal keeping is actually highly beneficial for the mind. Writing about our experiences give us time to analyse and assess what happened, giving us a clearer picture of the experience as a whole and how we can use it to learn about our weaknesses, our strengths and how we interact with different people.
Some tips on how to start
Luckily, meditation and gratitude journals aren’t strict in terms of necessity. The main rule is that you have a dedicated notebook where you write only your thoughts and thankfulness and nothing more. Trying to meditate on thoughts that are scrambled about on scraps of paper lost to the dark recesses of the bedroom don’t really help the calming aspect of these entries. That being said, it doesn’t have to be an expensive journal. So long as its spine and pages are all still intact enough to form a notebook, it’s a great choice.
Beyond this, the book is your oyster, so to speak. You can write brief notes summarising what you did. You can make lists of things you are grateful for. You can write detailed descriptions of events that really caused emotional turmoil. You can even doodle out your thoughts. Whatever it is that you want to do to express the day’s events, do. A meditation journal is your private creative area where the focus on the creation is its own form of meditation.
Ideally, you’ll want to journal once every day. This is important for habit formation, like when your forming a consistent meditation practice. These don’t have to be long entries, but they should be enough to summarise what happened. At the end of the week, read over your entries to see if you find any common threads. Maybe you find you’re more negative than you thought you were or that, quite possibly, you’re causing more trouble in your life than you’d like to admit. The practice of journaling helps to reveal these flaws so that we can takes steps to rectify them. We certainly can’t be the best at everything but by working on our flaws to even a small degree, we can be better.
Take your time
Don’t rush through your time with the journal just because it’s boring or you’re getting tired. Experience the emotions that come with writing things down. Often times you’ll find that the feeling spurns you on to examine why such a strong reaction was evoked. This is especially important if you’re practicing a gratitude journal.
Unlike a meditation journal where you can write about anything, gratitude journals are more specifically about giving thanks for the great things in your life. This practice is a fantastic way to learn how to be optimistic, that is learn how to see on the bright side of life. If you focus more on the good things or appreciate the existence of something (because without it life would be much harder), you learn to see that life is more good than it is bad, regardless of the bumps that come along.
Is there a right way? Not at all. The most important thing is that you just do it. Unless you share the journal with someone, no one will ever see it. It is a safe space to record anything and everything you want without feeling shamed. It’s a reflective mirror where you get to see your interior instead of your exterior. It is the one place you can exist where no one can tell you what to think or what to feel, and that alone is cathartic enough to truly bring inner peace.