Presence can be achieved in many ways, through traditional mindfulness meditation, nature walks, yoga, journaling, and more. But how can journaling be a presence practice? Isn’t that just a way to document your day?
If you’ve been asking those questions, try out the following journaling exercise in three phases, to take you into the present moment, and into your day. It is intended for end-of-day journaling, but you can modify and adjust to your needs.
Shift from trying to write down fully-developed thoughts, to simply making statements based on observations of what is around you, how your body feels right now, your breath. Don’t try to make sense. Just welcome in and accept any thoughts or feelings that arise, and write them down as you have them, in a stream of consciousness. If any questions come up in your thoughts, write them down, but save answering them for later. Allow yourself to wonder.
Recall your day. Be honest and raw. What went well today? Be honest and raw, understanding what brings you joy and why. What would you have changed about today? Be honest and raw, writing down real fears you may have or assumptions that caused you to react in the ways that you did. Reviewing the moments in your day can actually help you process and remember each day more, resulting in a slowing down of the pace of life (mindfulness works this way in general, but this is one way to slow down your perception of time).
Pause to examine physical and emotional tensions and recall your day - what happened during your day that may have built up into that tension or that mood? Pause to examine physical and emotional positivity - what happened during your day that may have built up that comfort and happiness? If any emotions require you to take action on them, write those down. For instance, you would normally welcome and accept temporary unhappiness, but if you notice you’re feeling unfulfilled in a particular relationship, it may be time to examine why and make an action plan to talk about and resolve that issue.
Pause to consider any of the questions you posed to yourself in the first phase. Notice how your uncovered feelings from the day may influence your answers.
There are many ways to journal, and this is just how Beth does it. Try a journaling presence practice, modify or replace parts that work better for you, and let us know how it goes!
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