One of the coolest trends I’ve seen of late is the bullet journal. So, I thought I’d write this guide to creating a mindful bullet journal for tracking meditation time.
The Bullet Journal is a system designed by Ryder Carrol, a New York designer. The purpose of it is to help you “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future,” says Carroll. If you take a look on Reddit you’ll see all kinds of cool bullet journals presented with beautiful artwork and cool sketched. “[online, people are] presented with countless incredibly beautiful, gorgeous artistic options,” Carroll says. “They feel like that is what the bullet journal is—essentially an artistic to-do list.” But Carroll says this isn’t the main point behind bullet journaling. It’s about organising, scheduling, and getting in control of your time and activities.
One way I personally love to use a bullet journal is for meditation. I use it partly to schedule the different meditations that I do and to track when I do them. This is a brilliant way of tracking meditation time. And I also use the actual creation of my bullet journal as a mindfulness activity.
How To Create A Bullet Journal For Meditation
First up, if you have never actually created a bullet journal before, I recommend reading Carroll’s official guide on BullettJournal.com. It perfectly explains how to create a basic bullet journal using lists, calendars, notes and more.
The way I personally use a bullet journal for meditation is to track the different types of meditation I do, and when I do them [read: Different types of meditation]. I’ll then also use the note section of the bullet journal to track how I feel for 24 hours following a meditation session. This helps me to see how the different meditations I do lead to different mental states (you can find a great example of how to do this on Buzzfeed).
Essentially, the way I lay out my meditation bullet journal is to write my different meditations along the left side, below which is a list of emotions. Along the top is the days of the month. I’ll then tick off which meditations I do on which day, and I’ll rate my different emotions from one to ten. I can then look back through my previous months to see how my emotions correlate to the meditations that I do.
One tip here is to list your emotions both before and after your meditation. So let’s say you felt depressed for most of the day on March 4th, then you did Anapanasati (breathing meditation), and then you felt a lot less depressed, you can tick the Anapansati box for March 4th and then write two numbers in the emotion column, like “10/5”. The first number shows how you felt before meditation and the second number shows how you felt after meditation. The next time you feel the same way, you can look back at your previous months and say “Oh, I was feeling depressed on March 4th, then I did Anapanasati and felt better, so I will do Anapanasati again today”.
Doing A Mindful Bullet Journal
Above we looked at how to use a bullet journal to track meditation time. Now let’s talk about how to do the actual creation process of a bullet journal as a mindfulness exercise.
Creating bullet journals can be a very creative process. You get to design the layout of your bullet journal precisely how you like, and you can also do what a lot of Reddit members do and decorate the pages with icons and sketches.
Both of these can be done mindfully.
Here’s a couple of ideas on how to create a bullet journal the mindful way.
1) Visualize your perfect self, then draw your cover
You know those “before and after” photos that show people losing weight? You’re going to do a similar thing here. First off, before you go about drawing your bullet journal cover, meditate to calm your mind. Then visualize where you want to be in one month’s time. On the left side of the cover draw where you are now. On the right side draw where you want to be in one month. Bonus points if you also draw the different tasks and actions you will do to get to your goal.
2) Observe your thoughts when setting tasks and goals
When you go about choosing and jotting down your tasks and goals, you will naturally have certain thoughts come to mind. If, for instance, you want to lose weight so you set the task of going to the gym, you might feel anxious about going to the gym or think negatively about it. Don’t ignore these thoughts. Mindfullly observe them and challenge them (to challenge negative thoughts you can use CBT exercises).
3) Reflect at the end of the month
Most bullet journals are designed for one month. The end of that month is the perfect time to look back and reflect on what you did, what you didn’t do, and what you did or didn’t achieve. Use self reflection questions to gain insight into your daily habits and what you can do differently next time.
4) Express gratitude for your self-compassion
The end of the month, and the end of the bullet journal, is the perfect opportunity to express gratitude for all the self compassionate things you did. When you complete your bullet journal, look back at all the things you did and take a moment to express gratitude for your own efforts.
You can use bullet journaling as a mindfulness practice, and you can use it to track your meditation time. Between those two things, there are lots of benefits of bullet journaling for people who meditate.
Will you start doing a bullet journal? And if you already do one, what tips can you share with our readers?
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