Writing Meditation: Exercise from A Buddhist Journal
A mindfulness practice can take many shapes, from spending a day in nature to logging time with your favorite meditation app. To get centered before a busy season, we like journaling: it’s a time of careful attunement, self-reflection, and self-expression that we in publishing can always fully endorse! Check out this free exercise from Beth Jacobs’ new release, A Buddhist Journal: Guided Practices for Writers and Meditators.
Part of any meditation is noticing the variety of events that occur in the mind. Whether you are meditating on a specific object or simply trying to observe what does happen in the mind, a series of impressions and sensations will move through awareness. You might consider these distractions or simply experience them without evaluation. In this technique, you modify meditation to try and capture these observations.
Sit quietly in any form of meditation with this journal or a pad of paper or a keyboard on your lap. If you don’t have a form of meditation accessible right now, just focus very simply on breathing, on following the in and out of air.
As your mind settles, jot down one word or a short phrase, capturing a particular thought or sensation when it arises. Then repeat with another line when something else catches your attention to the point of being defined. Just stay with this for about two or three minutes. You might start with something like this:
What time is it?
Blue chipped paint
This is a literal exercise in plain notation without judgment. It will show you something about the quality and rate of your mental processes. In a few minutes, how much did you notice? How much seemed to escape your notation? What proportion of your lines are sensory images or emotions or thoughts? Is there anything recurring that is problematic and could use some outside work? If so, write a few paragraphs about that problem and, instead of trying to solve it, see if you can put some parameters around it.
You might also gain insight by categorizing your distractions: for example, if many of them are emotions, which ones; or, how many reflect positive or negative views of yourself?
Finally, very often these lists can read like skeletons of poems, and if so inclined, you might want to fill out some words and make your list into an ode to meditation.