Journaling, in some shape or form, has been a constant companion through my life, much like my love for books and reading. There have been phases of course – from teenager angst filled “dear diary” entries, to merely recording daily events and activities in my 20s, to the more soul-searching and prompts-driven form of journaling these days – it’s been an ever-evolving journey for sure. Somewhere in between all this, I even dabbled in art journaling for a few months .
I’ve realised that the evolution of my journaling form and style has mostly been a reflection of my mental state at that point in time. For the last 3-4 years, I’ve been grappling with a lot of “what’s my life purpose”, “what does all this mean” kind of thoughts, so using journal prompts has helped me simplify my thoughts and get things out of my already over-crowded headspace.
In fact, using journal prompts usually allows us to go deeper to the heart of the matter. And there’s a journal prompt for nearly all states of mind. Whether you’re happy, sad, or somewhere in between, you can definitely rely on a journal prompt to ground you, or uplift you, as your need may be.
These days, as unprecedented as the current times are, I find myself reaching for one journal prompt in particular:
“I want to remember…”
It’s a hangover from my memory keeping days, and I’ve in fact used it many, many times over the years. It’s one of my all-time favourite journaling prompts in fact. Mostly, because of how simple and profound it is at the same time.
I am currently in Calcutta with my parents. My lockdown life here is vastly different from my lockdown life in Bombay. Ideally, I wanted to create a Week in the Life project of this time but can’t seem to muster enough motivation for that. But I am a huge proponent of “something is better than nothing”, so instead of completely giving up, I decided to use this simple journal prompt to document how life is at the moment.
As you will see from the excerpt below from my journal, it can be as deep as you want it to be, or you can the use the prompt to record even the most basic instances.
“I want to remember…
… my father’s extensive sanitisation protocol to protect the family / all my favourite childhood dishes that my mom is making nearly everyday / the pleasure of eating fish cooked in typical Bengali style / the simplicity of my parents’ daily routine / the sense of accomplishment I feel when I realise I’ve not had a drop of cola for over a month now / the squirrels which keep running past the window, forever searching for food…
… that Chloe Ting’s workouts are brutal but effective / the rain showers that would invariably start whenever we hung out bedsheets to air-dry / that sometimes a little distance is necessary to protect loved ones / how unexpectedly I fell in love with The Babysitter’s Club reboot on Netflix / the evening aarti that my parents do without fail every single day / how much they love and appreciate any dish that I prepare for them …”
WHY IT WORKS AS AN EFFECTIVE MINDFULNESS TOOL
Without a doubt, journaling can be a fantastic way to uncover your layers, work through your issues and if you commit to doing the work, it can a powerful tool for personal growth.
But journaling doesn’t always have to be about plumbing into the depths of your soul for the purpose of self-discovery. Sometimes, it is enough to use journaling for record keeping. Sometimes, that may be all that you have the mental ability to do. And that’s quite alright too.
At it’s very simplest, mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged with where you are and what you’re doing.
Over time, I’ve realized that using “I want to remember…” as a journal prompt is one the easiest ways of recording the current moment, of centering yourself, of making yourself aware of the present. In fact, at it’s very simplest, mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged with where you are and what you’re doing, which is exactly what this journal prompt allows you to practice, without being overbearing or stuffy.
1| It makes you pause to take note of your current feelings and/or environment
We’ve become so used to constantly being in motion that we often fail to check in with ourselves. This journal prompt is meaningful enough to make you more aware of the present moments without forcing you to do some gut-wrenching inner work. It simply asks you to record what is right in front of you. It does not require too much mental commitment on your part, except for being aware of the present moment.
2| IT MAKES YOU APPRECIATE THE LITTLE THINGS
Unless we’re forced to observe, the little things, those tiny acts of kindness or thoughtfulness or just sheer beauty, they often pass by without notice. When you’re trying to document things you would want to remember, you are, in fact, making the time to acknowledge and appreciate these little things.
And as we know from doing this thing called life, it’s really all about the little things, the tiny moments of joy, that will make us smile with fondness even after those moments have since long passed.
3| IT REMINDS YOU THAT EVEN IN TOUGH TIMES THERE ARE GOOD THINGS TO REMEMBER
Tough times do not last (and thank God for that). But when we are in the middle of such tough times, it’s easy to forget that things will get better, even if they seem to be getting worse at the moment.
It might seem like a lot of effort at such times to crack open a new page, or record your thoughts on your preferred notes app, but I would argue that this is a wonderful journal prompt particularly for such times. Even on our toughest days, there is usually something worthy of remembrance – an unexpected kindness, a bright sunny day, an out of the blue message from a friend, something, anything, that elevates our heavy heart for just a little moment. Taking a moment to record these small, good things, could act like a balm for your soul.
So, if practicing mindfulness is one of those things you want to do more, this simple journal prompt could become one of the easiest tools in you mindfulness kit.
How do you practice mindfulness? Do you journal often? Do you have a go-to journal prompt for mindfulness? What’s your favourite journaling prompt at the moment? I’d love to know more in the comments below.
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