Mindfulness Journals: Getting Students Focused on Mindful Writing

" Your mind needs discipline. If your thinking is more direct, what you can do with your thoughts will happen more directly. Learn to focus your mind: focus creates strength."- Tamora Pierce, Wild Magic

Be yourself, everyone else is taken- Oscar Wilde

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into my friend- Martin Luther King Jr.

You can not shake hands with a clinched fist- Indira Gandhi



Journals are a great way for anyone to reflect, set sight on a goal, free-write and find clarity. What makes a journal a mindfulness journal? How can we transform our reflection to include seeing the world a little differently? Keeping a mindfulness journal is different from writing in a conventional journal in a few significant ways. With mindfulness writing it is about experiencing the writing process through awareness of recollection and reflection of how you felt at the time. Not a narrative or analysis but rather a cathartic rendering of sorts. It is something you carry with you, a small pocket-size notebook or even a notes page in your phone. It is something you should be scripting in when a situation sparks curiosity or a goal or intention has opened your eyes to something new.

Unlike a diary, a mindfulness journal does not account for your time or whereabouts, nor is it a discourse on the past and circumstances of trial and tribulation. Mindful writing will be more successful if you write in present tense, keeping the focus on the here and now, the immediate, this helps you stay aware of current events and happenings around you, rather then looking back on them. For example: I watch as my students create paper lanterns for their tables. Each a hidden gem because it is layered with only pictographs and images not words. Each group has a unique point of view and it is coming across in the design and drawing taking place at every table. The lantern is a curious thing for them, they have never made one before and this has created a sense of curiosity and motivation because they know they will be seen by all the classes. It is important to put yourself as part of the action, whereas when you write in a diary or journal it tends to be about the action itself and not being a part of it.

Mindful journaling also challenges you to use verbs in first person. When you are writing your personal awareness anecdotes, you are writing about your own personal journey as it is happening, you are the lead actor. Try not to be too creative or discuss the unknown, stick with what you observe individually. Make it personal. As you are writing it is important to check and make sure you are staying in first person and that the focus is on the present tense, not a memory but a live-action replay. You at the center. This causes us to be more aware and pick up on more things we may miss if we simply try to recollect the past. It helps if you do not rehash the past or answer the "what ifs" you have in your head, but merely stay present and attentive to the interaction and awareness of the situation. This makes it very visual and this triggers calmness and happiness, a good memory, rather then a "I could have done it better." It is not an analysis but a retelling.

In my classroom, I have students mindful journal at the end of class when I can. Using the strategies explained previously. I do not want a summary of the day but rather a recollection of their place in the activities of the day. Their interpretation of what took place, a play by play not a reflection. This keeps them present more in the classroom. Rather then a "I learned....or after completing this activity I need to review..." It is now my students being mindful. Being aware of what transpired around them, Signalling them to be more attentive and purposeful in their actions and motivations. I have them write out their intentions and often they mindful write about how these intentions were carried out. For me personally, journaling about my daily intentions is a great way to begin the day. It helps bring clarity and focus to my days goals and aims me toward the right path. Then writing before bed, helps me put things to rest. I make sure I mindfully journal two times a day. This is a great positive motivator because it allows me to see how aware and attentive I was during class and beyond. Then the next day I use this as a baseline in which to stay present and engaged with my students throughout the day.


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