Do you Journal?

Yoga Journal (c) 2013 Fredonia NY
Yoga Journal
(c) 2013 Fredonia NY

I have kept many journals over the years and I have found that there are at least two reasons for keeping a dedicated yoga-meditation practice journal.

Yoga journaling can be an important aid to your practice for two reasons. The first is that the act of remembering what and how you practiced  provides a running diary of asana in your life. As time passes, this record can become a tool for motivation, celebration, and insight.

A page from carolyn's  Yoga Journal (c) 2013 barefoot photos
A page from carolyn’s Yoga Journal
(c) 2013 barefoot photos

The second way that journaling assists your yoga practice is that as you reflect back on what you have done, how you felt, what changed or remained the same, the practice deepens. Yoga, at its heart is about  self-reflection and self-growth/ self-awareness.

When recording a yoga session, I include the poses I did as well as my thoughts and insights, what came easily, what my breath was like. See the photo of a random page from my little green book.

Your journal can become a great tool for a personal journey in SATYA, or the development of truthfulness in your life. Try to look at your practice dispassionately, using Witness Consciousness.

A very specific way to keep a mindfulness journal is to record your insights immediately after a practice session, whenever you can. Keep a pen and notebook handy, at the ready, so that it’s easy to remember to write for a few minutes after you have practiced. Dedicate the notebook to this effort.

When recording meditation sessions, include what specific practice you were engaged in. Walking? Sitting? Or did you practice Deep Relaxation? What was your posture?

For any session, it’s helpful to record what challenges were faced, how the poses worked together, and the cumulative effect of regularly practicing. Include a general description of your emotional and physical states at the beginning and ending of the practice.

There are many ways to keep a journal. Consider all of them a part of your mindfulness training. You can ask yourself questions and then free write responses. When you free write, resist the urge to edit yourself so that the unconscious thoughts can freely arise. The pen is not to leave the paper. Just keep the writing flow going, even if what you are writing is gibberish. In the midst of the junk, insights often appear unexpectedly. You may be surprised at what appears on the page!

Another is to record observations using the Witness Consciousness. and then reflect back upon what you’ve written.

You can try different methods on different days as the spirit prompts.

Many students like to draw in their journals and attach photographs.  There is no set length or format. If you can only pen a couple of lines, that’s AOK. Sometimes, however, you may feel an inclination to delve deeper as you reflect on your state. Go for it! It’s your record, so personalize it and make it work for you. Marble composition books work great for journals. They are cheap, and easily available. If you work with me through Yoga Coaching, I’ll ask you to send each week’s journal to me in an email.

Meditation Journal, breath

Snow Shadows (barefoot photos)

A rambling excerpt of a practice journal entry that I thought might be of some use . . .  .

December 15, 2010, Wednesday morning, 9:10 AM

Just meditated with soft ujjayi breath for an hour. Shocked when I opened my eyes and realized how much time had passed. That happens so often. The timeless place opens and I enter.

Mind wandered. Thinking about the blog and books. But kept coming back to Breath.

Disengaging from the heaviness of the body, even the entanglement of the mind.

Breath is so light and free. It is always here, always available, as much as I want it. A gift I need to be present to.

A tool for growth rest healing love.

Breath teaches me to love my essential self, my core, my self dis-embodied and de-minded, essential, free, perfect, and imperfect.

Breath is eternal and brings me into eternity.

Breath is who I want to Be.

Breath is who I am.

Is it time to stop running?

“Is It Time To Stop Running?” is excerpted from some journal entries where I speak to myself. Sort of a metta-journal, if that makes any sense.

queen anne's lace in snow (ckg photo)

I am creating a post so that I might explain the voice that is used.

This, and some other pieces I hope to post in the near future, are not meant as didactic pieces. As with the practice journal, they are not prescription, rather they are a description of my process.

They are self-talk that I do to lift myself up or give me a kick in the butt, or pats of encouragement to keep going.

It’s self talking to self.

Inspired by Henri J.M. Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love, which is a truly incredible work.  You should stop reading this and FLY to the library to pick up a copy to savor in your own meditation.


Stop running and running and running. Sit still. The universe is speaking. Are you listening?

Can you quiet the ceaseless chatter? The endless drone of nonsensical words in a stream so thick, it gives you the heebiejeebies when you finally take a break from doing doing doing and sit and watch what’s going on in your little patch of gray matter.

And then what happens is you decide to TURN THEM OFF: all those voices cramming your station. You realize the static confuses and throws you off balance. Everything, every thought, every feeling, every “accomplishment” belongs to someone else. You want to know your self, some call it the TRUTH. Like a starving beast, you hunger after your life, no matter what it tastes like.

As your practice grows, so do the small spaces, the little deaths, momentary breaks, the lapses between the thoughts crowding your grey matter. It’s quiet there. Deep within, in the ancient place, probably the amygdala or thereabouts, is a locale where you exist in a pre-civilized state. It’s a state of joy (you can agree or disagree as you wish), a place of primordial bliss.

When sitting in that sweet neighborhood, all sense of time, all direction drops away. This is entering the GREAT UNKNOWN. Funny thing about this place is that you’ve always known it. It’s familiar, no doubt about that. You don’t feel lost when you are there in momentary bliss. Nope, not at all. You feel, for once in your half-century of “living” that you are finally home. Home at last. Home free. And afterward, whenever you are not there, you will remain homesick, unconnected. Not lost anymore though, because now you know the way home.