By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Keeping a daily log is one of the best ways to monitor progress in any activity, and this may be especially true in meditation. Not only does the practice encourage accountability and clarify goals, but new research shows that it may benefit the body, as well as the soul. Psychologist and researcher, Dr. James Pennebaker, says that people who write about their emotions – as opposed to simply recording daily events – have less stress and healthier immune systems.
A meditation log can be as simple as recording basic facts and comments, or it can take the form of a journal that records and explores the feelings and impressions experienced during a meditation session. Some people even have blogs that allow them to discuss their comments with others. In its simplest form, a log usually consists of the following: day of the week and time, location, length of time spent, and comments.
Benefits of Keeping a Meditation Log
• Provides a visual record and encourages consistency
• Brings focus to the meditation practice
• Shows stages of growth and development
• Helps to process information received while in the altered state of meditation
• Reinforces ideas and strengthens memory
• Makes it easier to recognize patterns and synchronicities
• Encourages objectivity and insight
Writing can be an opportunity to channel thoughts and feelings into something tangible that can be shared with others. Although Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist, Thicht Nhat Hanh, was banned from Vietnam in the 1966, he continued to write letters advocating peace from his exile in France. In 1967, he was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize, and today, he still uses his writing to teach the world about mindfulness and peace. He also advocates writing as a form of meditation.
In fact, it has also been my experience that writing is a unique form of meditation, as well. Although, my attachment to Yoga meditation may be transparent, writing is definitely useful for focusing one’s thoughts and bringing about states of inner calm.
From basic logs, to artistic journals, there are many options for keeping track of meditation practice:
• Several online sites provide readers a chance to read what others have written and to share individual experiences. Entries run the gamut from documentation to open discussions and video logs.
• Online templates provide options, ranging from daily logs, to reflective flow charts, and can easily be printed and kept in binders. Some have checklists that require minimal writing, while others encourage contemplation.
• Traditional journals, ranging from inexpensive notebooks, to leather-covered editions with archival paper, can be used for tracking meditation. The artistic meditator may even choose to add decorative script or sketches.
There are no rules when it comes to meditation logs. Like the art of meditation itself, needs and preferences may change as the practice evolves. This concept, of recording progress, carries over into other healthy practices in life, such as Yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong.
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