The Power of a Meditation Journal
3.5 min read – This article discusses how a meditation journal can help us unlock suppressed feelings, to help us live more freely & authentically.
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges as a human being in our society is that of feeling emotionally vulnerable.
Whilst indigenous cultures had rituals for emotional release and grieving, we sadly do not, At least, not to the extent that is needed to be effective. Emotions remain something that many feel ashamed of or embarrassed by. So much so that Brene Brown has made the topic of vulnerability the centrepiece of her famous TED talk and a book. She has given voice to something that so many struggle with.
There are many emotions that we will do anything to avoid feeling: shame, rejection, hate, loneliness just to name a few. This is where our addictions can take hold. Addictions to alcohol, drugs, being busy, work, relationships, sex, exercise, food, gambling for example. Our addictive behaviours serve to keep us distracted from our feelings and help us to keep them suppressed (for a little while at least).
The more we seek to suppress emotions in all sorts of ways, the more fear and shame around our emotions take hold, locking our addictive behaviours into entrenched patterns.
There is a cost. When we suppress negative feelings we also dampen our ability to feel the positive feelings such as joy, happiness, peace, pleasure and love. Since we suppress all feelings and we can’t really choose to suppress some feelings and not others.
The consequences of suppressed feelings…
When we suppress our feelings, we may find that we are affected in many different areas, such as;
- Our ability to give and receive love. This has an impact on our relationships.
- Difficulties in meditating; since the mind is on full alert (it has to be to keep on top of those emotions) it’s more difficult to quieten the mind and tune into the body and breath (because our feelings live in the body and meditating on the breath opens up feelings in the body).
- Losing touch with our deeper needs and desires, even our sense of purpose.
- We may feel a lack of ease and calm, like we are always running from something. The suppressed feelings keep tugging at our sleeve like a nagging child through sensations, pain and feelings of dis-ease in the body.
- Trouble changing unsupportive lifestyle patterns and behaviours. The deeper wounding that fuels that pattern has not been acknowledged, supported and addressed.
- Difficulty with intimacy. When we are not enjoying this kind of relationship with ourselves, we struggle to give it to others (We can’t be fully present to others because we fear being triggered by other people’s feelings)
- Lack of energy. It takes a lot of energy to keep our emotions stuffed down.
Journalling as a tool to navigate your interior world…
Beginning a meditation journal is a great way to listen to, validate, support and begin to process our feelings.
Being heard and validated by ourselves is a big step towards true intimacy.
It doesn’t mean that we just focus on negative feelings. Journalling can actually help us become more aware of our positive feelings as well.
Nor does it meant that we then go around sharing all our feelings with others – we need to practice safe emotional boundaries, and in fact we may feel LESS inclined to seek validation from others when we feel heard. Rather, what we do share in our meditation journal is more specific, relevant and useful because when we then communicate with others we will feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed. Less desperate for support.
A meditation journal can free your mind…
Journalling can support our meditation practice in some very profound ways:
- Less mind mess when meditating. A clearer mind usually means a deeper and more satisfying meditation session.
- Through our journalling practice we can develop a sense of comfort with our feelings. This leads to greater inner confidence and less fear when meditating, which can allow us to be open to a whole range of new experiences (both in meditation and in life).
- When we are connected to our feelings we feel a greater sense of connection when meditating. That can feel AMAZING.
- When emotions do arise in meditation (as they inevitably will) we will handle them better since our system is used to processing feelings and reacts with less habitual contraction of the body, allowing a clearer path for emotional energy to move through us and on..
- Having emotional clarity and awareness through journalling enables us to then select the most supportive meditation technique to use in our session. This allows us to respond to whatever need is illuminated through the journalling process. This results in greater depth, relevance and self understanding. Overall this means a more useful and effective wellbeing practice.
What are the benefits of a meditation journal?
Perhaps the greatest benefits of combining journalling and meditation in your self care practice are:
- Experiencing greater emotional confidence since we may feel a greater sense of self efficacy. We know that no matter what life brings we have the tools to handle it because we have a path of successful experiences to refer to. Pema Chodron says that this is what “real confidence” is.
- Greater authenticity in our relationships, work and all aspects of our life. We are able to respond honestly and be in touch with our true needs and feelings. This may mean we are able to get our needs met more often (we have to know what they are in order to get them met!)
- We also create the space and opportunity to find the “gold” in our challenging experiences: the growth, learning and wisdom which is there, waiting to be found under the surface of challenging emotions. This process has been called alchemy or growing the lotus in the mud by Buddhists. Becoming a master of this process is a very valuable life skill.
The ACMM Journalling for Clarity Program covers a wide variety of journaling techniques to support all kinds of feeling states, helping to build self-efficacy, inner confidence and self knowledge. It also gives you the opportunity to practise the techniques with mentored support. You get to observe and document how the techniques impact your meditation practice. Included in the 6 week program is written feedback from your coach and a half hour one on one mentoring call. (You can purchase additional calls if you would like to).
A note for current meditation teachers…
Meditation Teachers will find this program really useful in enabling them to:
- Work with greater authenticity, connection and presence.
- Be better placed to handle emotional responses from students since you will be less defensive against your own emotional responses. The more comfortable you are with your feelings, the more comfortable you will be with other people’s feelings.
- Utilise tools that you can share with your groups either: a) In response to spontaneous needs or b) As part of a workshop or program
- Utilise tools to support yourself when you are triggered by students (or life!)
- Expand, deepen and support your own meditation practice.
You can also keep a meditation journal after your meditation practice, to record insights, experiences and to capture the nuances of your experience. This is a fantastic teaching tool as it helps you refine and synthesize what you have learnt from a particular meditation session.
Journalling has been a vital tool in my life. Using it regularly has enhanced my life dramatically for all the above reasons. In this program I have put together my favourite tools that I have adapted along the way.
If you would like to give journaling a try then you can access the Journalling for Clarity Program from our website.
The program counts towards your Certificate studies, should you wish to continue. Alternatively, it can be incorporated into your studies as an elective.
The great news is if you decide to enrol in one of our courses, the cost of Journalling for Clarity Program will be deducted from your fees.
I sincerely hope you enjoy and benefit from it.