It’s the middle of August and yesterday I got curious about how long I had been meditating. I figured it was a couple months but when I checked my journal I realized that I had started my meditation habit as a New Year’s Resolution! Not only have I been meditating for 8 months but I’ve also been recording things I’m grateful for, waking up at a certain time every day (it was 5:30 during the school year then switched to 6AM in the summer), logging my exercise, recording things I did well and things I did poorly, and more. In other words, I have created intentional morning and evening routines.
Recording My Morning and Evening Routines:
I started the year using a blank journal to record these things in the morning and the evening and then switched to my Five Minute Journal in the summer. Neither of these is working perfectly for me. I wanted to make the Five Minute Journal work because I already owned it but looking back over the last 8 months I think the blank journal was better. I was able to customize it depending on what I needed, like when I started recording Good Seeds and Bad Seeds after reading How Yoga Works (the seeds are karma, so good seeds are things you did that result in good karma like helping someone and bad seeds are things that harmed others, like saying something mean).
Some day I would love to create my own journal that has every category I need in it (I’m reminded of Benjamin Franklin’s virtue tracking). I’d like to try bullet journals since they are so customizable but for now I’m going to stick with the Five Minute Journal until it’s done.
Results and Thoughts on 8 Months of Intention:
The biggest change for me has come from adding meditation to my morning routine. It has truly changed me. I’m so much less reactive to situations like previously would have upset me or caused me to react defensively. Although I currently meditate first thing in the morning for 20 minutes, I started off with just 5 minutes a day and worked my way up. It is crazy that 20 minutes a day could make such a difference, especially when I feel like I am so TERRIBLE at meditating. If I can make it a 60 seconds without my mind wandering I feel like a champion, but the point of meditating is to just return to the breath and not judge your experience, so that’s what I do.
Waking up at the same time every day was something I did in an attempt to be proactive about preventing depression. I wanted to make sure each morning started with a purposeful routine, especially over the summertime when I might normally sleep in and then lose any chance I might have of time to myself for the whole day. Sleeping in is a trigger for me to feel listless and lazy and those feeling lead to despair upon waking, something I desperately want to avoid. There is nothing worse than waking up feeling like you don’t want to get out of bed. Waking up at the same time every day and doing a few intentional things has been a good way for me to keep that away. So simple!
I also think recording three things I am grateful for each morning and also recording three great things that happened every day in the evening along with my moment of joy is a habit I will keep for the rest of my life. I love looking back through these recordings and remembering the good in my days. I need this daily reminder that a good life is lived in day to day moments, not in the unique, big experiences that come around once in awhile.
I am so pleased by the changes I have made since January 1. It seems like just yesterday I started meditation and journaling but at the same time it feels like forever. I’m very pleased at how much these small additions to my day have improved the quality of my life and helped me stay out of out trouble with dreaded depression.