“To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle.” -Walt Whitman
In the last article, we discussed how to jumpstart your morning routine with a journal and utilize yoga philosophy off the mat. In order to balance the jumpstart, we also need the wind down night time routine to balance. Instead of preparing for an active day, we can now prepare for a restful and calm night, perhaps even right before sleep. Like yoga, journaling is a powerful tool for self-discovery and impetus for positive change in your life. An evening journaling ritual can be a powerful way to end your day.
All you need is a writing utensil and a journal. A basic notebook is fine, but there are also journals specialized for yoga practitioners.
Here are 5 ideas for an evening or night time journaling ritual.
1. Give yourself space to find flow.
Sometimes after a long day, we to release our thoughts and find our “flow”. Flow is psychological term describing when you become completely immersed in what you are doing. When you are in the flow, you are completely present in the current moment. But finding this flow state can be tricky- sometimes it happens fast, other times it takes longer to surface. Practice on finding your flow by Take a few minutes to write freely about your day. If you aren’t a huge writer, you could also color or draw your day as an alternative. Don’t set expectations here- just allow yourself to be, release and flow. This technique relates to the niyama ishvara pranidhana, or “surrender to a higher power”.
2. Reflect on what went well. Also acknowledge what did not.
The end of the day is a great time to reflect on your experience, including what you did well and areas you could improve in. You can practice this by naming 3 things you did well and matching it with three things you could improve. This activity helps you organize your thoughts and identify strengths and room for growth. It can also help connect you to your larger goal and what you are trying to connect to by journaling in the first place. Reflecting is a great example of utilizing the niyama svadhyaya, or self-study.
3. Make a note of your daily habits.
We all have habits, or behaviors that we follow automatically. Most of us have habits in the morning, such as brushing our teeth having a shower, or in the evening like reading before bed. Because we have learned these habits and do them automatically, it is normal to not think about them. Noting these habits provides an outside view of your behavior, which can be immensely helpful when you are looking to make positive changes to your mental and physical health. It is also helpful to note how you are feeling both physically and each day to pinpoint detrimental habits and increase your self-awareness. It is a great way to add the yama satya, or truthfulness, into your day.
4. Add forgiveness in.
It may seem odd to add forgiveness in to your everyday routine, but doing so can help foster self-care, healing and improve emotional intelligence. When you are able to forgive things, it is easier to live in the present moment. Instead of holding on to things from the past, you can experience and appreciate what is happening right now. Forgiveness is a great example of the yama ahimsa, as well as the niyama santosha.
5. End the day with something you are grateful for.
Reflecting on what you are grateful for in your life is a valuable thing to do at any time in the day but can be particularly poignant right before you go to sleep. Why? Well, gratitude is the expression of thanks and appreciation for something. Practicing gratitude alters your focus from what is lacking in life to what you have. Regardless of the day you had, when you shift your perspective in this way, you end the day with a positive outlook (and perhaps a restful sleep.)
Our evening routine says a lot about us, including how we choose to nourish our bodies and mind before sleep. Adding these simple journaling techniques into your evening is an effective way of self-study (svadhyaya) that can help you feel grounded and in touch with yourself.
By Laura Heggs
Laura is an anthropologist and 500-hour RYT based in Norwich, UK.
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