by Wanp'ung (Miyo)
It’s been a while now since I first heard Ven. Do’an Prajna mention the benefits of journaling meditation sessions during one of his Wednesday evening Mindfulness sessions at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Utica.
Like with so many things, I met this recommendation with resistance. “Ugh – one more thing to add to my list of things to try to fit into my day!” Thankfully, I reminded myself: “That’s what you used to say about meditation,” and now I somehow manage to find time to meditate at least 20 minutes a day, when it used to seem difficult to manage just 10 or 15 minutes, or even less.
So, I talked myself into starting one. Being one of those people who love a new notebook, I did buy one, although really all I needed were some blank sheets of paper and a place to keep them. I’m a teacher – I have tons of that – but I used this as my excuse to find a notebook I liked at Target, and started journaling.
On the first page of the book, I scribbled down the list of suggested things to note in our journal that Do’an handed out that day. Then, I started logging my sessions. At first it was pretty straightforward. As I went along, as he had promised, I started making connections. For example, acts of kindness – whether received or given – are connected to joy and happiness. A lot of us know this on a conceptual level, but the act of writing it down and spotting that pattern with my own eyes helped me really feel the connection to that truth.
Another example that is a little more personal is that I noticed in my many moments of anxiety, I tend to escape – a lot. During meditation, I will do a lot of story-telling or fantasizing – usually imagining outcomes of situations I expect to find difficult, or that I found troublesome earlier in the day. This helped me realize that I do this a lot during the day in my waking hours as well. I’ve grown much more conscious of this habit, and am able to curb it much more quickly. The reason I curb it? While I try to imagine positive outcomes – just the fact that I’m hoping for things to turn out a certain way, that anticipation, was the cause of some of my anxiety.
Magically, I seem to have grown a few extra minutes in my morning to journal my meditations now – just like I was able to grow some extra time in my day to meditate almost daily, no matter what is happening.
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