Journaling – an everyday ritual performed everyday

I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. Anne Frank

There is something enriching about watching the sunrise and set. There is a sense of wholeness to a day when you witness both the sunrise and the sunset of a single day. To top and tail each day and create a deeper sense of wholeness, I have introduced a daily ritual that has been as enriching as seeing the rising and setting of the sun. I guess you could call it journalling.

Journalling conjures thoughts of laborious daily entries and the need for a descent amount of uninterrupted time. This daily ritual is not an arduous or lengthy practice. It’s an everyday ritual that devotes some intentional consideration and reflection at the beginning and end of each day and takes no more than five minutes at each sitting.

I began in mid December. Feeling gloomy, a lack of connection and a general malaise that had no root in the physical body I knew I was not feeding my spirit. Beginning at the end of the year I hoped to make my new ritual a devotional practice, one that would treat the symptoms and cure the ailing spirit and help me to begin the new year much improved.

The foundation of my journalling is based on the Five Minute Journal. Each morning I identify three things I am grateful for, three things that will make the day great and I write three affirmations for the day. At the end of the day, before bed, I list three great things that happened during the day and three ways I could have made the day better (I love this accountability and reflection).

Since the new year began I have included a couple of extras. Each morning I read the daily slip from You are a Badass calendar, gifted to me by my son for Christmas (I so love his endearing encouragement of me). Often times the calendar provides inspiration for my affirmations.

I include a short tarot reading in the morning or draw an oracle card. This part is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, though for me it’s part of stepping back into ritual and reconnecting with my intuition again.

Why I like this morning and evening ritual.

Gratitude: – even when things seem bleak there is always something, even if it’s small, to be grateful for. I find this raises my spirits immensely.

Making a great day:- listing several things that would make the day great establishes an expectation that inspires action.  It also means that even though not everything may go as planned, if those small things you list are achieved, it’s been a day well lived. I like the sense of achievement that comes with this. I haven’t focused so much on making sure everything on my list is achieved but bonus points if they are.

Affirming yourself:- there is much written about affirmations that speak to their potential. I am currently enjoying this practice because it helps me to fill my head with positive thoughts. We reap what we focus our intention on. My head easily fogs up with the negative so spending time with positive intention is good for me mentally and spiritually.

Acknowledging the greatness in the day:- it’s like gratitude. Finding three good things in the day salvages even the hardest day. It elevates the heart and the mind.

Accepting responsibility:- this is awesome. It is easy to blame others or just file the day away as being shitty but when you reflect on how you could have made it better it sets you up to do better another day or in similar situations or, if you had no control over anything that happened, this part of the ritual helps you realise you can do something to make things good for you – it could have been to go out for a walk, drink more water, eat a healthier lunch.

Added bonus:-I was interested to learn the practice of journalling can improve your physical wellbeing by strengthening immune cells, decreasing symptoms of several common ailments and reducing stress. So far I am finding this daily ritual a pleasing practice.   I look forward to it each day and I will be interested in a month or so to read back over my entries to see if common threads appear.

Journalling – an everyday ritual performed everyday. Have you tried it?

 

A year of inspiration: Inspired by Tim Ferriss and The Five Minute Journal

Advertisements

The magic of mornings

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. ~John C. Maxwell

I’ve been interested to learn about the morning routines of various entrepreneurs from as far-reaching backgrounds as science, fitness, entertainment and politics. All of these high-flying high achievers have a ritual they perform daily that sets them up for a winning day. Many of these morning routines have some common features such as meditation or focus time, movement, journalling and healthy eating.

My well long-standing morning routine has suffered some neglect of late and slipped into a regrettably haphazard, hit and miss, come what may state. I feel the lack of it weighing on me like a heavy wet cloak. Determined to reinstate my winning beginning to each day I have distilled my leanings, reflected on what has worked for me in the past and considered some new ideas.  My intended routine is fairly simple, it’s nothing ground breaking or earth shattering; I don’t have a cryogenic chamber or cold water plunge pool like Tony Robbins (though I could just take a cold shower to boost my immunity though I’m not terribly excited by this water torture technique), nor am I going to be as obsessive as Beethoven was in counting out precisely 60 beans of coffee for his morning java.

First thought:  On waking and before opening my eyes my first thought is always one of thanks and gratitude for another day on this wonderful planet. Test the difference between holding a thought of gratitude and holding one of wishing to sleep longer, being bummed the alarm has gone off, cranky it’s a work day.

Meditation: Always before this step I clean my teeth and wash my face. It just doesn’t feel right to settle into a meditation without having cleansed in some way. I’m not a great meditator but I do enjoy the peace it brings me, even if I spend only 10 minutes in this state.

Journalling: My journalling usually falls out of my meditation practice.  Thoughts and insights that have arisen in that time are written down. Sometimes I draw an tarot or oracle card to provide some guidance or insight for the day ahead or an issue I am facing and journal a stream of consciousness piece that arises from that stimulus.  I have explored Julia Cameron’s morning pages idea and engaged in that regularly for a period of time. Now, though, I am keen to explore some new ideas with regard to my morning journalling that include a focus on gratitude, guidance and intent. Check out the five minute journal.

How do you think you’d feel if you began your day by identifying three things you were grateful for, reading a poignant quote, piece of poetry or spiritual guidance and zeroing in on one thing that must be accomplished in the day? Would you feel more present? Mindful? Full of intent? I’m going to experiment to see what impact it has.

Movement: My steady yoga practice stagnated and died a slow and agonising death when my enthusiasm waned in the absence of a much-needed injection of new inspiration and stimulation. Sadly, my yoga mat languishes in a dusty corner.  I wish to reclaim my morning movement regime, my body is demanding it and my mind needs it, so I am going to experiment with a combination of yoga, stretching and brain gym.  Rather than leap back into a full on hour  and a half Ashtanga yoga practice I will commit to a half hour session of whatever postures feel right combined with some strength training exercises such as basic push ups, sit ups, squats and isometrics, along with some brain gym movements.

I avidly used Braingym routines many years ago in classrooms to increase student performance and focus.  I’ve begun using these again recently and I am keen to pull out my books and charts to refresh my memory to contribute to a vital and healthy morning practice.

How long will all this take? That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? How early does one begin, how much time should one commit to a morning routine? I don’t believe there are any rules. People’s morning routines vary in length from 10 minutes to 90 minutes and longer.  When rethinking my morning routines I allocated 20 minutes to meditation and journalling and 40 minutes to an hour for movement. An hour forty sounds like a lot of time before heading off to work at 7am when showering, dressing and eating breakfast all need to be achieved before walking out the door. Being an early riser helps but a more realistic estimation may be 10 minutes, give or take a few, allocated to the first two areas and then 30 minutes for movement. That’s definitely achievable while allowing room for expansion as the need and desire arise.  To be honest, I don’t think it matters how much time you commit, and I don’t believe you need to be rigid in following each step faithfully each day. Joy in life comes from being flexible and open to spontaneous redirection. Five focused minutes of setting your intention for the day is better than rolling out of bed, eyes half closed, mindlessly and robotically beginning the daily grind.

How might a more focused start to your day change your life?