In this guide we will look at how to keep a meditation journal to track your practice.
Keeping a journal can help you track your daily meditation practice. Plus, it can help you find ways to improve.
Have you noticed how some days you have a great meditation, and other days you feel rushed and annoyed? If so, you might wonder why your daily meditation is better some days than others. A diary can help you find the answers.
When you have a mindfulness journal you can look back on good days and remember what made them good. Plus, you will be able to chart your progress in meditation. In turn, you will be more motivated to meditate every day.
Indeed, the very nature of journaling is mindful. It’s about self-awareness and knowing where you are at the present moment. And in my experience as a mindfulness instructor, many meditators enjoy journaling as part of their daily practice.
You’ll enjoy it even more if you combine it with these mindful writing exercises.
Let’s discuss how to keep a meditation journal to track your meditation practice.
How To Keep A Meditation Journal To Track Your Practice
- First, you’ll need to decide on the best type of meditation journal for your practice. Some people like using checklist journalist. They list their distractions and their goals. You’ll find this quick and easy. However, it is a little rudimentary and it doesn’t add much to your practice.
- I personally enjoy writing prose for my meditation journal. I’ll write a couple of hundred words about my experience in a blank notebook. I put the name of the meditation technique I did at the top of the journal entry, plus the date and time. Then I’ll describe my experience. For instance, did I find it relaxing or uplifting, and were there any distractions? I’ll also make notes of ways I think I can improve my practice.
- I recommend making your journal entries short at the beginning. You don’t want to feel bogged down by it. That will just turn you off. If you make it quick and easy you are more likely to stick with it. Don’t’ worry about your writing, either. You’re not writing an essay. You’re writing a simple note to yourself.
- Once you are in the habit of maintaining a meditation diary, start to go deeper. I recommend that my students write around 200 words about their experience. For instance, they’ll write: “Did Metta Bhavana for half an hour. Was distracted by the neighbours at first. Then got into it. Felt agitated when I did Loving Kindness for a former friend who let me down. Might need to work on this. Perhaps do more forgiveness meditation. Also opened my eyes halfway through when I was hungry. Then my mind kept being drawn to the sensation of hunger. Perhaps do a Body Scan meditation or Vipassana to help me with distractive sensations.”
- I’ll personally read my student’s journal entries. In particular, I’ll look at their distractions and their feelings. Then I will make recommendations to help them improve their meditation practice.
Only use the right hand side of your meditation journal
One suggestion I often make is for my students to only write on the right-hand side of the journal. This way, they have a blank left side next to every entry. They can use this space when they review their journal. For instance, they’ll make further reflections on their practice, or they’ll just clean-up the entry and make a concise note of it. This makes it easier to review everything when you look back through several weeks or months.
Benefits of Keeping A Meditation Journals & Tracking Your Practice
Here are some of my favourite benefits of meditation journals.
One of the most important skills a meditator can possess is self-awareness. You need to know where your weaknesses are so you can work on them. Having a journal is immensely beneficial.
When you look back theough your journal you might find that your meditation got worse when you changed postures. Or that you seem to meditate better in a certain room of the house. Knowing this, you can then choose to switch your posture and change rooms. Insights like these are incredibly valuable in the long run.
You can also look back on your distractions. For instance, maybe your journal notes repeatedly mention being distracted by your noisy neighbours. Then, you can make efforts to remove the distractions. Over time, this will improve your practice.
Of course, when you do review yourself, you shouldn’t be judgmental. You should continue to be mindful. That is, to have a non-judgmental awareness of your practice. Review it and gain insights, but don’t be self-critical.
You can keep a meditation journal to track goals. Perhaps when you start meditating your goal is to be able to sit and focus for ten minutes. A month later you realise you’ve achieved this, so you can set a new goal. Not only does this help you achieve your goals, but it keeps you motivated.
You can set goals about your emotions too. For instance, maybe you need to work on forgiveness. So, you write that in your meditation journal and focus on it for the next month. Setting your goals in this way gives you a magnetic north pole that you will gravitate towards.
Insight & Understanding
When you maintain a journal you are keeping a record of your practice. And when you look back through your journal you will find insights.
For instance, you will gain insight into why you have good days and bad days. You might find that when you meditate in the morning you have better results than when you meditate at night. Or that certain meditation techniques are better for you than others. Maybe you did Chakra Dhyana one day and felt amazing. And another day you did Zazen and didn’t feel so good. Obviously, these are just examples.
Ultimately, when you having a meditation journal you can use it for insights. And those insights will help you develop your practice.
Knowing when you’re progressing and when you’re not
Another advantage of meditation journals is that they show you when you’re progressing and when you’re not.
When you look back over the months you will find that you have improved. And that can help you to stay motivated. However, at the same time, you will find days or weeks when you’re stuck. And that is when you will want to work with a meditation teacher like me.
As a professional instructor, I can help you to come unstuck. And I can provide you with valuable guidance, so you continue to develop in your practice.
Indeed, that’s one reason I recommend a journal.
I personally find it helpful when my students keep meditation journals. When they get stuck, we look back through the journal together and find out what went wrong. Then, I provide my insight to help my student develop. In this way, meditation journals are valuable for your teacher as well as for yourself.
Tracking your meditation practice in a journal is immensely beneficial. Not only does it help you to stay motivated, but it can reveal areas for improvement.
Ultimately, with a meditation journal, you take control of your practice. It gives you the insights you need to develop in your journey.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison