Often as I rush through a day I am tuned out to much of the world around me, and my overloaded senses begin to numb as I rush from project to project. This year, I’ve been trying to live more aware of my senses- noticing and naming the sensory
experiences that bring a sense of aliveness to my body. Sometimes, at the end of the day I use this layout to either record these experiences, or to mindfully review with memory what I did not stop to notice in the moment.
This journal layout can be used as easy end-of-the-day reflection exercise to allow you a few moments to slow down and process a bit of what your mind and body experienced during the day. Sensory experience is just one type of mindfulness, but it’s been the most helpful for me. My hope is that through the habit of this layout during your journal times, you might begin to mindfully notice sensory experiences in the midst of your day.
HOW TO USE: As you complete this layout, take a few moments to remember and notice the sensory experiences and the experiences surrounding them. For example: For “Listening”, think: What was the sound? When did you first notice? What emotion did it bring up? Did you strain to hear or was it so loud it drowned out other sense?
6th Sense: YES. I include a 6th sense: “knowing” or intuition. Humans have an innate ability to read people, situations, and our environment. If we pay attention, it helps keeps us safe and helps us to know how to care well for others. Most of us don’t pay attention to our intuition- we were taught long ago to ignore our body’s cues and “be nice” instead of practicing reading a situation well and trusting our instinct.
Fostering the habit of naming and honoring your inner ability to read a person or situation correctly can improve your sensitivity and trust in your own intuition, and trusting your intuition can save your life.
Is Mindfulness Really Worth Journaling About?
YES. I’ve heard critics call the mindfulness movement called a veiled excuse to dumb down culture via adult coloring books, but the research doesn’t back that argument up. My graduate level Interpersonal Neurobiology course in 2016 delved into some of the research on the neurological impact of mindfulness on the brain and it was more than convincing. (see: The Art & Science of Mindfulness or The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.) Habits of mindfulness have been linked to a thickening in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is important in learning, memory and emotional regulation. Mindfulness also soothes anxiety, increases gratitude, and can improve relationships. (One study found that therapists who consistently practice mindfulness have improved therapeutic outcomes, regardless of their method of therapy)
It’s worth noting that there is a big, big difference in coloring and mindfulness- doing the activity of coloring is not, in itself, a mindfulness practice, but is a way many adults find it helpful to slow their mind to move into a space of mindfulness. Coloring as a distraction from life or a way to “check out” after a long day may have it’s benefits, but is not mindfulness. Mindful coloring means slowing down and taking time to be aware of all five sense, notice what you are sensing, and letting what you notice pass in and out of your awareness without judgement or reaction.
For many people, mindfulness without an activity can be overwhelming. In my trauma-informed mindfulness practice I don’t ask a participant to sit and invite any thoughts or sensations- for people with PTSD this can feel like opening the door and rolling out the red carpet for troubling memories and sensations to flood the brain. Instead, I invite participants to do an activity- usually coloring- and engage their senses around the act of transferring color onto a blank page. This kind of mindfulness can help a survivor grow trust in their body and their body’s ability to sense and feel- while being no less effective for participants in the room without trauma. Check out one of my scripts for this kind of mindfulness practice over on livetotellthestory.com
Supplies used in this layout
Pink – RV11 Copic Sketch Marker
Mint – BG11 Copic Sketch Marker