Do you have a routine you follow first thing in the morning? My morning practice is ever evolving but usually involves writing and some form of exercise (either simple yoga poses and stretching or a walk).
I’ve kept a journal for most of my life. Some years I wrote regularly; others I’d go months with nary a note. After reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way in 2010, I adopted her practice of morning pages, three stream-of-conscious handwritten pages.
Five to seven days per week, as soon as I awaken, I sit up, grab my composition book, and put pen to paper. Some days I write all three pages, sometimes I don’t. It depends on my available time and what I have to say. Morning pages fill the purpose of keeping a journal for me, providing daily insight into what I’m thinking.
I’ve experimented with writing morning pages later but I believe there’s something special about downloading your thoughts immediately upon awakening, before you’ve engaged in other activities. My pages never flow as well after I check email or start a conversation with my husband. Later it can be like pulling teeth to hear my inner voice.
My morning pages capture the monologue of my mind, the complaints, concerns, and considerations of the moment. They tell me how I’m feeling and what, if anything, is stressing me out—they’re my personal barometer.
I write because often we can’t verbalize what we’re feeling or we know that we shouldn’t give voice to what we’re thinking if we want to maintain healthy relationships. And, frankly, many of our thoughts aren’t fit for public consumption anyway.
Morning pages give me a safe place to record my thoughts as well as a place to return to for reflection, when I’m ready to re-read what I’ve written and determine if it is true and fair and helpful.
I’ve used my morning pages to reflect on why I am or am not doing something, on how to approach a thorny situation, and I have even written a difficult letter within them.
Often new ideas come to me while I’m writing, either in the form of projects to undertake, blog posts to write, or realizations about my life.
As I close my morning pages each day, I take a few moments for gratitude or affirmations, writing what I’m most thankful for in that moment or some inspiration to start my day.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years from journaling and morning pages. Having a morning writing practice makes me a more mindful person.
If you think it will help you, too, it’s very easy to start. All you need is a pen, notebook, and 10-20 minutes of time for yourself.
Do you keep morning pages? If not, what helps you practice mindfulness?