Keeping A Journal, published in the new Sheldon Mindfulness series, is all about what happens when meditation and writing meet. The author, Philip Cowell, tells more.
I had a hunch. Wrestling with keeping my mindfulness practice alive and kicking, I noticed that whenever I dropped into writing mode, something a bit like mindfulness seemed to be happening. I slowed down. I became more aware. I noticed things more. I could feel the insides and the outsides of my lived bodily experience as I wrote. Somehow, or so it seemed, writing my felt experience down was something akin to mindfulness meditation. Was it possible, I wondered!
If mindfulness is about fostering present moment-to-moment, non-judgemental awareness, then mindful journalling is exactly the same, just in written form. During mindfulness meditation, our mind often wanders, and we are taught to notice this, and kindly bring our attention back to the breath or the body as many times as we need to. With mindful journalling, we do the same, except it is called writing! We actually write the thoughts down, in sentence form, or as plain words. The page becomes the sky of our awareness, each word a cloud for exploring how we are relating in this moment. In this sense, our notation becomes the awareness; the journal our expanded spaciousness. I could see the resistance to this idea; writing is often seen as conceptual thinking, so how could it help you reach an embodied kind of mindful knowing (possibly even unknowing)? My task in this book is to show it is possible. Funnily enough, if you bring mindfulness to the writing act, the fruits – both those in reach and those just out of reach – are plentiful.
In Keeping A Journal I explore the links between journal writing and mindfulness meditation, look at the history of mindful journalling, investigate some of the well-being science behind writing things down, and provide 31 mindful journal writing exercises to get you going. It’s all about celebrating the gentle art of writing up our lives. I call it mindfulness-inspired self-study, and if the mind wanders, all the better – just write it down, with your compassionate pen and a very open heart!
Keeping a Mindful Journal
£7.99, available on Amazon