I am a journaler. I have been putting thoughts down in a journal for more that two decades, but for the longest time I did not know how journaling was affecting me. I did not know that there was an underlying reason why after finishing one entry, I continued to be pulled back to pick up the pen to write another. I thought I was writing as part of a commitment and responsibility to myself. I had chosen to start journaling and for some reason, I just thought it wouldn’t be right to stop.
Journaling to Find Calmness
What I didn’t know, until just a few years ago, is that I “need” to journal. It took a while, but I came to realize that I journal because writing calms me. The “calming” doesn’t start when I decide to write. To get there takes effort — I have to stop doing everything else. Stop being busy (at least for a little bit). Stop rushing to the next “thing” on the list. Rush or not, there is always a next thing on the list. Stopping also allows me to remind myself that I will be able to work on that “next thing” better if I am calm rather than stressed.
So I find my place at a table and pull out my pen and open my journal. The “calm” now starts to overcome me as I focus my thoughts and put pen to paper. You will notice that I spoke of pen and paper. I choose to journal by hand, not by computer. For me, writing by hand is personal. It is slower. When I write by hand it is more mindful.
Does all of this sound familiar to you? Isn’t it the same process that most of us go through before we unroll the yoga mat? And once on the mat, doesn’t the process of calming progress as we start to concentrate on the breath?
Journaling: Just Like Yoga
Journaling, like yoga, is a very personal experience. Journaling is different for every writer, and it should be. Journaling is about writing down experiences and feelings that are important to the writer and only to the writer. The yogic experience is the same. It is most important to the yogi. What you do on the mat is yours. Unless you choose to share it, your yoga is no one else’s but your own.
So in the spirit of openness, let me share a small amount of my journaling experience with you, Bad Yogi community members. As I said earlier, journaling is writing down the feelings and experiences that are important to the writer. So what do I write about? My muses may surprise you. Usually when journaling comes up in yoga discussions, the conversations revolve around mantras, poses, sensations, world peace and other ethereal or existential topics (OK, world peace may be stretching it, but I have gotten that feeling before). Personally, I very rarely write about yoga or “yogic” topics. I also very rarely write about my daily experiences or myself. What I mostly write about are my children. I refer to this writing as “family historical journaling”. I have journaled the lives of my children for over 20 years long before I came to yoga.
Discoveries through Journaling
What have I discovered with journaling? As I said before, I discovered that it calms me. And I found that I watch the world more. I have become more aware my surroundings, my children’s surroundings and the way we as a family experience daily life. (Doesn’t that sound familiar too, yogis?) I have also determined that my journals are a gift of time. When journals are read sometime in the future, time from the past becomes present again. Memories and feelings are refreshed. So I know that not only is my journaling calming to me, but the hand written words that may be read by my children in the future, will be a gift to them; the most precious gift of all — time.
Over to you, yogis! Do you keep a journal? Are there are other mindful practices you have that complement your yoga practice? Share with us in the comments!