Meditation in its perfected form results in a sense of awareness and being goal-oriented. Both ends can be served by a meditation journal, which will chronicle your experiences as they unfold and will highlight your inner beauty as you feel them.
A meditation journal helps not only because it tracks your progress but also it allows you to examine the beauty and honesty of your experiences. You then understand what your strengths, as well as your weaknesses, are.
With a journal, you can review and assess your patterns of consciousness. Maybe you’ll find out that you’re trying too hard, or that you’ve been lazy, or that meditation is much more enjoyable than you thought.
Most importantly, it will help you set clear goals. If you’re frustrated with your progress and you’re quite far from the goals you’ve set, you can always go back to your journal and look at what you need to develop. Is it patience or forgiveness? Do you lack that calm and persistent disposition? Believe me, your journal will be a revelation.
Keep a Meditation Journal, and Improve Your Practice
Types of meditation journals
I know that some people use checklist style journals, with lists of distractions and positive factors that can be checked off. The advantage of this is that you can do your journaling very quickly, and that you have ready made categories to help you analyses your experience. But I’m not fond of this kind of journaling. To me it seems to pigeonhole our experience and leads to a superficial understanding of what’s going on in our practice.
I prefer a more unstructured form of journal, where you can write freely about your experience. In this style of journal a blank or lined notebook will do. There are a few brief formalities that precede any entry – the date, the name of the meditation practice, and how long you meditated for. Then you can write more generally about how the practice went – what distractions you had, what you did about them; what positive factors (like calmness, patience, concentration, etc) that were present and what you did to strengthen them. You can write about factors in your life that had an effect on your practice – things like lack of sleep, or a particularly busy day, or that you felt refreshed after a day’s hiking with a friend. (Keep reading here)
When making an entry to your journal, start by writing brief entries. If you find the urge to write longer entries, then by all means do so. However, it’s not a matter of obligation. Remember, all you need is to chronicle your thoughts. An example would be the following:
Mett Bhavana. 30 minutes. Had a difficulty focusing, and dozed off a few times. Felt a bit sad.
It doesn’t have to be impressive—it just has to be an insight on what you’re feeling. Other variations of a meditation journal is extended journaling which can be posted on a blog or shared with your friends, or double-entry journaling, where you leave the left hand page blank so you can supply further reflections in the future.
Lastly, don’t be pressured into thinking that there’s a right way of journaling. Doubts can be debilitating, and will stop you from truly connecting with yourself.