Writing in a journal helps our conscious mind build stronger connections with our sub-conscious mind and emotions. This helps us to sort through any mental clutter which may be upsetting our emotions and get in the way of our understanding and clarity.
Journaling is a great way for adults and children to “download” their thoughts and daily life experiences on to paper and then refer back to these thoughts later if they wish to for self reflection. During the Chilled Out Child meditation and mindfulness facilitator training one of our modules covers the benefits of encouraging journaling as part of a children’s and teens mindfulness class. We spend some time exploring creative ways of incorporating this theme into the structure of the overall class.
Like adults, when journaling, children need to be careful that they do not use their journals as a ‘negative dumping ground’ and ideally they should be encouraged to think about their feelings as either better or worse and not positive and negative. Creating and decorating a journal with beautiful words and imagery can be very uplifting. Writing in a gratitude journal can be a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what you are grateful for in that moment.
Journaling should not be confused with keeping a diary. Writing in a journal could be viewed and approached as an opportunity for children to be creative. If you are teaching meditation to children, a journal can be a great space for participants to express their thoughts on how they felt about the guided imagery meditation or overall experience of the class they have participated in. The versatility of keeping a journal means this activity can also be incorporated into many different areas of learning which includes subjects like math, science, social studies and english.
Here are a few journaling ideas for you to do at home, school or incorporate in to a children’s and teens meditation class:
- Make, or decorate your own individual journals.
- Use a “journal jar” and each week pick a “topic” to reflect on and journal about.
- Use positive affirmations – it is a good idea as a group to come up with positive affirmations which turn daily challenges into an opportunity to look for a positive and empowering solutions.
- Start a “feelings journal” – enabling children to identify their current emotions, draw a picture, write about it and then link it to the idea of “my personal weather report”. For example, stormy (angry), rainy (sad), sunny (happy).
- Choose a feeling from a feeling poster or wheel and write about or draw about it and if it is a negative emotion look for the positive affirmation to “balance it out” and bring a positive aspect to it.
Encouraging children and teenagers to take a moment to move out of their “minds” and reconnect with their hearts through the process of journaling about what makes them happy, or grateful can be very therapeutic. Writing or drawing in a journal can help them to channel their energy into something creative and enable them for that moment to focus on the positive, removing the tendency to focus on thoughts that create or encourage anxiety.