close up of a person doodle journaling their day

Presence and Mindfulness Journaling + Journal Prompts

Mindfulness journaling is the practice of being present in the moment and letting go of your thoughts and feelings. Keep in mind, journaling can be writing or drawing. Mindfulness journaling has many benefits, including reducing stress, improving mental clarity, and increasing self-awareness. One of the best things about mindfulness journaling is that it can be done anywhere, at any time. All you need is a notebook and a pen. You can do it for five minutes or an hour; it's up to you. Mindfulness journaling is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mental wellbeing. Give it a try!

Sometimes I live so much in my mind that I forget what is right before my eyes.
– Anna Quindlen

Being present in my life feels like holding flubber in my hands – you know that slime kids play with? It's interesting and wiggly; you want to hold onto it, to pass it from hand to hand, but then it can slip right through your fingers. Sometimes I can be present, I can mindfully wash dishes or pack a lunch, and then there are days when that ability slips right away from me. I've included a number of different quotes to get us thinking about this flubbery concept of mindfulness since it's so easy to let it slip through your fingers.

close up of a person doodle journaling their day
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The Benefits of Mindfulness Journaling

Mindfulness journaling is a great way to focus your thoughts and feelings and get them down on paper. It can be helpful to mindfulness because it allows you to process your emotions and work through them in a safe space.

You can also use mindfulness journaling to reflect on your day and what went well, or what you could have done differently. If you're feeling stressed, mindfulness journaling can be a way to take a step back and consider what's really important to you.

It can also be fun to look back on old journal entries and see how far you've come. Mindfulness journaling is a great way to practice being present in the moment and it can have lasting benefits for your mental health.

Presence and Mindfulness Journal Prompts:

With these mindfulness journal prompts the idea is that you can take just one or two and respond to them in a few minutes of downtime. Sometimes I sit with my journal while my kids finish up school work at the table, sometimes I write in the morning before they're up, and sometimes just having the question to think about during the day is enough.

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz”

  • What does it mean to you to “be present”? What does it mean to you to do something “mindfully”? Does it sound good? Or like a chore?
  • Why do you want to be present with your family? What is the hardest thing about being present with the people you love?
  • Who do you know who feels very present when they are with you? What do they do? How do they act that makes them so present?
  • What parts of your life are most distracting?
  • When do you have a hard time letting go and being ‘here' in the moment? When do you “check out”? What are you checking out behaviors (i.e. I check Facebook, check email too much, etc.)

We all spend so much time worrying about the future that the present moment slips right out of our hands. And so all we have left is retrospection and anticipation, retrospection and anticipation. In which case what's left to recall but past anticipation? What's left to anticipate but future retrospection?
– David Leavitt, The Two Hotel Francforts

  • What are some events in your life you feel guilty about not being present for? Are you feeling guilty because you actually wanted to be there, or is this an outside pressure?
  • What will you regret most if you miss it?
  • What is your relationship with media – do you like how you use phones, computers, entertainment?
  • Make a list: What online activities take the most of your time? Which online activities do you enjoy? which ones nurture you? are necessary? and which simply take time away?
  • How do you show you're listening? Write about what your body language is, your voice, your feelings, when you are focused on your child (or anyone).  Now, what does your body language, voice, etc. look like when you are only half focused? *More Journal Questions on getting focused can be found here.
woman writing in her journal with a cup of coffee
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Awakeness is found in our pleasure and our pain, our confusion and our wisdom, available in each moment of our weird, unfathomable, ordinary everyday lives.
– Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice For Difficult Times

  • Think back to a time you agreed to do something that was a Hell YEAH I want to do this! type of event for you. Maybe it was difficult or inconvenient, but you were thrilled to do it anyways. How did that feel? What happened?
  • Describe a time you've agreed to do something that is not a “hell yeah” only “I guess I should.” How does it feel when you’re saying yes – how does your body feel, your thoughts, what do you tell yourself that makes you say yes?  How does it feel when you’re doing the task?
  • What have you recently said ‘yes' to that is not a ‘hell yes' in your life?
  • Try it: Stay with an unpleasant feeling or emotion, for 30 seconds or so – next time you're irritated, upset or fearful simply “be present” with that emotion, don't judge it, just feel for a moment – what is that experience like?
  • Does focusing on your breath help you sit with feelings of anger or fear?  When do you most need to “just breathe?” What keeps you from pausing – notice and write about your thoughts.

Show me a mother who says she is 100 percent gentle, 100 percent of the time, and I'll show you a mother in deep, deep denial, and probably passive-aggressive to boot. – Lynn Siprelle

  • To be present with our kids we need to have a SELF to be present with. What do you do to recharge yourself? Are there things, big or small you would like to do to get in touch with yourself now?  How can you start doing one of them?
  • What things do you tell yourself you will be present “once this is finished”? What are you waiting for in your life?
  • Mindfulness – does it feel like a waste of time to you to be present and mindful while doing something like washing dishes? Is it ‘wrong' to be thinking of other things while washing dishes? If you're trying to lead a mindful life and find yourself not being mindful, do you guilt yourself about it?
  • What events or activities are you easily present and engaged in? Which ones bring you back into your body, here in the moment?