Getting journaling and meditation to actually work for you

Over the last few months I have been loving my journaling and meditation practice. I have heard for so long how great both practices are, but after years of on and off practice I never understood how it worked. I am sure you've also heard endless accounts of how self-help practices have greatly impacted peoples lives. I myself have heard the stories of deep enlightenment, self-acceptance and an unbelievable love brought about by practices such as journaling and meditation, yet I never reached those highs for myself. That was until now.

As a self-help fanatic I have tried a bunch of different practices, products, courses, tips and tricks to find that very elusive self-love many gurus gush about. With journaling and meditation having so much science to back the benefits and being basically free to start up, I decided long ago that I wanted to master these practices and scheduled time in each day to engage with these ways of self-improvement. Being called a practice, I knew that the benefits wouldn't be felt for some time, so, I stayed consistent and ticked off the days as I went. A little part of me felt more and more accomplished as I saw the consecutive days add up and I got such a rush sharing my Zen-queen vibes on my social media, however, no matter how consistent I was I never had those shining ah-ha moments where I felt more connected than ever.

Again and again, I picked up and dropped these practices as I just couldn't quite find the juicy insights so many of my peers raved about. It wasn't until I felt completely lost and betrayed in my pregnant body that I felt the urge to grab a pen and scribble down all my deepest, darkest thoughts. At this time I felt like I couldn't truly share how I was feeling with anyone else. Not because I didn't have loving support from those around me, but because I couldn't describe what I was feeling in order to express that to others. Soon my pen became an extension of my mind and I would write everything down, just letting the words flow out onto the page. Some days the words would form great tales of deep gratitude while on other days the page would be filled with disjointed metaphors and feelings of loss, darkness and discontent.

It was in my reflections of these entries that I decided I needed help. Constantly seeing the phrase "I am not okay" shocked and scared me. Here I was midway through one of the biggest miracles of life and all I felt was deep sadness and loss. Truth is I was grieving my former self but at the time I didn't understand what this meant.

It didn't take me long until I enlisted the help of a life coach to aid me in navigating my thoughts and feelings. What drew me to Evelyn Kelly (Evie) over a counselor, doctor or psychologist was our past interactions and the love I felt when I spoke with her. Through our sessions Evie gave me personalised journal prompts, affirmations and ideas to reflect upon. It was during this time that my journaling practice really ramped up and I began to add in meditation. For the first time, I had personal questions and thoughts to journal about, and while meditation was never a practice Evie overly encouraged, I found this space with myself was a great way to reflect on what I had written or how the prompts made me feel.

For the first time, I was practicing these habits from a place of instinct rather than achievement. I didn't care how often or long I would spend on these practices, I did them because I needed them. I craved the time to explore who I was and what had created a specific feeling in me, rather than focusing on a streak number, and that's when it happened. The more I intuitively moved through my journaling and meditation the greater insights and ah-ha moments I experienced.

I'm not implying that you need to be experiencing depths of despair in order for these practices to enlighten you. What I do believe however, is that in order for these habits to change your life, we need to approach them with a different intention. I began journaling and meditating (and many other self-help practices) with a belief and expectation that this discipline would 'fix' me. What I learned along my coaching journey with Evie was that no self-help practice will ever 'fix' anything. It's not a chicken or the egg situation. In order for these habits to truly help you, we first need to address the issue at hand. Whether its self-confidence, worthiness, ideals of success or childhood dilemmas that still trigger you. Picking up a generic app or prompt and hoping to find enlightenment here will never work. You really need to uncover your own kind of essential healing in order for these practices to really work.

Of course these practices are tools, and much like tools we may find some connection and insight in the practice, but in order to get the most out of them our initial intention can not be through a needing to fix ourselves or with an achievement mindset. In order for these tools to truly benefit you there needs to be some level of healing, self-worth and understanding that must be met before these practices can help you uncover more insights than you ever thought possible. These practices are not a way for you to tick a box and 'achieve', these are tools to help you really dive into who you are and connect on a much deeper level to your intuition and what you need.

I will forever be grateful to Evelyn Kelly for her support and the introduction of intentional based journaling and meditation. While I don't believe I will find time everyday to journal and meditate, especially as a new mum. I now know the absolute value of these practices and can use these tools to connect to my intuition at any time.

You may need a coach to help you uncover areas of yourself that need healing but even without investing into a coach, before you sit down to a new page, load up your next guided meditation, or dive into your self-help activity of choice, ask yourself if you are approaching the practice from a 'fix it' or achiever's mindset. These practices will never provide answers to your dilemma, only illuminate where you are and what you need in this moment. When you know what to do with these insights, that's when practices like journaling and meditation will provide you with the enlightenment you may be craving.