Jennifer Warren

Chillin’ at The Zendo, by Jennifer Warren


Hi everyone! So, if you’re not familiar with my blog welcome to the Zendo! If you are familiar with it, be ready for this post to be a departure from the norm. One thing I cannot stand is ill considered advice – really sticks in my craw. Having said that, what follows is not advice, but could be considered as an offering.

Yoga Journal and meditation teachers sometimes advise practitioners to take up journalling. It’s meant to be relaxing, cathartic and deeply meaningful. Thing is, journalling doesn’t seem to work for all people. Mainly, it’s hard to be a consistent faithful journaller, esp. in the beginning when one feels pressured to record powerful insights on a daily basis or to be able to describe mystical experiences on every page. In other words it doesn’t feel authentic. If we’re being truthful, often the record of our forays into meditation is uninspiring, uneventful and repetitive.

Also, sometimes what we want to say is difficult to describe, wayyyy too personal to be written down or brings up emotions we are not ready to deal with. I actually knew a girl who said she had to stop journalling because it made her angry. (Also met a girl who said she finds coloring books stressful. Still trying to figure that one out).

The power of journalling is not just in the writing, but in rereading and reflecting upon what we have written. So, we have to ask ourselves, who wants to refer back to a journal that captures only boredom, frustration and shame? I would surmise that a such journal may well find its home is in the recycle bin rather than on the nightstand.


For those who have not had success journalling and want an alternative, I would like to share something I have been doing happily for years. It’s most similar to a modern phenomenon called “bullet journalling” (yes, go ahead and Google it) but is far less structured and not so goal oriented. I call this kind of journal “the anything book”. Here’s a suggested list of supplies to get you started:

*composition book or other bound journal (not a binder)
* various colors of pens (I like gel pens personally)
* glue stick
* collections of magazine/newspaper clippings/greeting cards/coloring pages that interest or inspire you
*tabs, post its or ribbons for bookmarking important sections
*charms,buttons,scrabble tiles,concert tickets, decals, tape or other embellishments to personalize the cover
*Elmer’s or tacky glue for the embellishments

What goes in it? Anything that inspires or interests you.(quotes,radio/TV shows, questions,poems, favorite song lyrics, things people have said to you, etc,) You can use different colors of pens on the same page to differentiate one idea from another, you can write in the margins, make different shapes with the words (a circle perhaps), illustrate ideas with charts, symbols, pictures, graphs- create timelines and flow charts. You could simply paste in a picture with your glue stick and write around it (this is fun and requires no artistic ability whatsoever)

One of my favorite things to fill a journal with is favorite passages from books and magazine articles annotated with the pages numbers, book title and author. I also like to jot down interesting websites, blogs, podcasts etc.

Decorating the cover with buttons and things is optional, of course. However, not only does it identify the “journal” as yours, but gives it a nice tactile quality. The power of touch can be very grounding and reassuring in times of stress. And I have found it can be just as healing to touch as thing as to touch a person, even more so sometimes.

I have found in reviewing my journals, things I want to see again are easily found and when filled, each journal becomes an accurate record of what my values and priorities are at any given time- who I really am – not just an idea of a “me” that is trying to be spiritual. I have filled several such journals. Sometimes the results of my meditations do go in there-freed from the yoke of obligation they contain REAL insights.

Journalling with”anything books” has been an absolute joy for me and a valuable resourse that continues to serve me in the Zendo. May you have success with it! Until next time, I bid you Sayonara from the Zendo..,

Jennifer Warren
DOC #WF1092

Categories: Jennifer Warren

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