Gina (my yoga and meditation instructor) told us an interesting fact about the neuroscience of journaling.
There are two aspects of the brain which house emotional and rational behavior. When the brain is in hyper arousal (anxiety) the emotional aspect is in charge, the rational aspect is shut out. Journaling has been shown in studies to help with bringing these two aspects of the mind in harmony when a person is in a state of hyperarousal. Journaling is a way to cope with anxiety and harness a calm mind. I feel in my personal life this is true, or else I can't really say what is going on in my mind. Until I write it out, my thoughts and ideas feel like a bunch of flies buzzing around in a jar.
As we did walking meditation, she had students take turns leading the movements. Many were nervous and went too fast. We were much more in harmony when singing in unison at the retreat. In my head it helps to sing like I learned from KK and to help take away the semiotic nature of the word.
Sitting meditation was once again painful, but this time I didn't notice much pain in my back, it was in my feet. My right foot and leg fell asleep after fifteen minutes and I just wanted to cry, but I didn't move for another five. My thoughts were distracting but I feel it was natural especially since I had a yummy cappuccino at Burkta before coming to the Yoga Studio. It helped to imagine my breath circling and coaxing the surface of my mind, like a protective blanket.
Thoughts must be released and treated like a friend. Rather than judging them I enjoy the idea of giving them a voice while writing. I will definitely commit to regular journaling and writing from now on as a mindfulness practice. I hope someday to write more poetry again too.
Poetry seems to have another function than journaling does. Poetry has the ironic task of tapping into unexplainable human experiences with words. For those of us who have intense emotions (and for me, instense romanticism) poetry is a safe space to write about the emotional aspect in any way you want - it doesn't matter if you sound like your every day self.
As I look back on my first year of grad school, I realize that 90% of the time I was in a state of hyper arousal. The only break my mind had was with my friends, Kyle, my cat and most importantly - sleep. I was always making excuses for finding quiet time for myself and I made a lot of things on my to-do list. I wanted so badly to integrate my spiritual growth from the previous year into my approach to academia. I feel much more equipped to succeed in school with mindfulness this next year.