20 Aug Mindful Family Journals
If the family is feeling a bit disconnected or you think some members need to come back to basics and prioritize, family mindfulness journals are a good way to go about it. Don’t worry there’s actually not a lot of writing involved and you don’t need to buy a journal (“A what?!” I hear the younger generation saying). It’s usually more of a chart or notebook, but that sounds more like homework!!
Adults and children spend most of their day on autopilot, routinely acting out habits that have become ingrained in their week. If this happens to you don’t worry it’s completely NORMAL. It actually means your brain is working well to short chain routine activities, so you don’t exhaust yourself doing them every day, as if it was the very first time! Therefore days, years, fly by without us being truly ‘present’ for much of it or appreciating how lucky we are just to be alive. So how do we start noticing and appreciating what’s truly important again?
BY ‘IMPORTANT’ I DO NOT MEAN YOUR SHOES, CAR OR BANK CARD. I MEAN OXYGEN, FOOD & WATER TO LIVE, AND SUPPORT & RESPONSIBILITY, TO SURVIVE
The objective of mindfulness journals is for people to begin reconnecting with themselves and their environment. Connecting to what’s actually happening and not just letting it fly by. Trying not to sound like a cliché, it really IS about ‘being’ in the ’present’. It’s not about ‘doing’ anything because that implies autopilot (although you can ‘be’ whilst you ‘do’, but that’s for a later post).
IT’S ABOUT LEARNING TO JUST ‘BE’, ACCEPTING THAT BY NOT ‘DOING’ ANYTHING, DOESN’T MEAN YOU’RE DOING NOTHING
This esoteric notion sounds obscure and far fetched but it’s actually quite a simple concept if you consider the intricate relationship our body and mind has. So once you begin to take note of your present environment, the sensations in your body and thoughts in your mind, you start to understand them better. From here you start to understand what’s important, what you’re missing and where you need to redirect awareness and attention.
HOW TO SET UP A FAMILY MINDFULNESS JOURNAL
Every evening for a week, each family member reports their mindfulness reminder to the mindfulness chief, so it can be written down. Even if your partner is traveling abroad STILL get them to email you or call in, so that EVERYBODY participates EVERY DAY. The first week or few, make sure the mindfulness reminders are positive ones, and of course easy to comprehend for young children. Examples of mindfulness reminders:
- What did you do today that was nice for someone else?
- What nice thing did someone else do for you today?
- How did you help anybody today?
- What good or thoughtful thing did you do for someone else today?
- What positive comment did you make to someone today?
- What was the best thing that happened to you today?
- What time during the day has your body felt the best today?
- Did you notice how your body felt today when you were happy/upset?
Etc etc, you get the idea. You pick one question for the whole week and journal everyone’s answers. The idea is realization of the self, through your thoughts and actions, and stepping away from your autopilot. And if your child is going through a bit of a bullying or cocky phase for instance, then have a week or two of ‘What was something not nice I did/said, to someone today and what could I have done differently’. And if you’re partner complains, remind them it’s for the good of the family and you’re not asking for a lot of time or energy on this!
Some of my Mindfulness
clients enjoy making big family charts decorated by the kids that they stick to the wall or fridge. Others use a white board or a dedicated notebook where a page is given to each day, with everyone’s comments. There’s no right or wrong way as long as everyone is involved and taking a little time daily. Try not to just write it down in a rush but allow for some conversation or reflection. During evening meals is a good time to bring up each one’s daily reminders, bringing more awareness to them and opening up conversation. It sounds so easy that it’s silly, but we are so detached that a simple exercise like this, can path the way to better awareness of our priorities. This is a simple interactive exercise in mindfulness for the family, which at the very least, makes you reflect on your day and connect with your experiences.
Enjoy the process, don’t be hard on yourself, and let me know how it goes in the comment section below.