Co-Author: Emilie Wong
Step 1: Meditate
Establish your environment
Start by finding a quiet and safe place, where you will not be disturbed. Situate yourself in a comfortable position. It could be sitting on a chair, on a cushion, with or without your back supported or lying down. Bottom line is, you need to be comfortable with the arrangement. The purpose of this meditation is to bring your attention inwards, towards yourself finding stillness. Guided meditation prompts can help you learn the fundamentals of getting started.
Once you are feeling confident, you can try a one-minute silent meditation, gradually increasing the duration with each practice. This is one of the most ancient meditation practices, being used to self-transform through self-observation. You can find many resources online to dive deeper into this subject.
How to observe
Once you are comfortable, breathe deeply into your stomach through your nose and out through your nose. This is acting as your clearing breath, to calm your mind and is used as a focus aid. Once you are ready, you can return your breath to a regular pace, and start to observe what comes up physically. Start by observing your body. Often the sensations in your body can tell you many things about your current state, whether you are stressed, angry, anxious or simply tired. Using a body scan, start from the top of your head, moving down to the tips of your toes, noticing how every inch of your body feels.
After that, draw your attention to any thoughts and emotions that may arise. Bring awareness to each floating in and out of the mind, as if you were observing clouds going by. Try not to be consumed by removing them altogether, simply labelling them objectively as they arise. For example, say to yourself, “Thinking” or “Feeling” when one arises. Then draw your attention back to breathing. If any thoughts and emotions come up again, gently repeat to yourself “thinking” or “feeling”. Continue to do so until the end of the practice.
Why meditation is important for mindful journaling?
You may not understand what is the end goal of observation for now. However, as you continue practicing, you will notice yourself getting better at becoming an observer, seeing yourself objectively from a third-person’s point of view. You will become more self-aware, as you notice more and more what is going through your head; what emotions you are experiencing and how your body is responding physiologically. It can be overwhelming at the beginning to have this amount of new knowledge and awareness about yourself.
As you become more self-aware it becomes important to write any symptoms, thoughts, and feelings down. It will help you assess your behaviours on a regular basis and help you to determine to detach from the outcome of certain thoughts and emotions. Certain thoughts and emotions have been taught to be suppressed, and often in adulthood, we simply run away from them. If you have chosen to pursue this practice, you will begin a life-long journey of developing the skills to combat the challenges in front of you. If so, you need to learn to do the next step.
Step 2: Write your observations down
Mindful journaling is dynamic, fluid and functional. You don’t need to write beautiful paragraphs to impress an audience, the purpose is for you to reflect, heal and enquire. You could write in bullet point format, using prompts or as a brainstorming session with arrows and circles. After your meditation, if you notice any recurring thoughts that are constantly nagging you or something positive that you want to expand on, jot them down. Then examine where those thoughts or emotions come from. If they are affecting you negatively, allow yourself to explore if there is another angle to approach the situation.
If there was something positive that came up, write down how you want to cherish that experience and bring more of those qualities to your life. Soon, you will find yourself feeling either more accepting of your situation or empowered by being proactive to change your self-perception.
Mindful journaling is something you can do either with a physical notebook or our app Flow Journal. Flow journal offers mindful journaling and regular journaling. You can use our meditation timer and journaling prompts to create structure and commit to your practice. The app also offers weekly insights to track your progress and all of your data is stored locally and can be viewed in privacy.