Zen-Journal’s Simple Format Provides Surprising Depth

My Zen-Journal, currently a LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook, helps me live a life with more intention, less clutter, and more depth.

A simple format fits my personality

As a Practical Buddhist, I follow the Buddha’s eight-fold path for living. The second aspect of the eight-fold path involves holding the appropriate intention. Intention can be thought of as that which undergirds our actions. So, you might say that if I hold the appropriate intention, my actions will also be appropriate. At least that’s the goal. 

My Zen-Journal is very simple in its organization. Each day’s entry begins with a heading that includes the date, the day of the week, and sometimes a little note about the significance of the day. I don’t use any decorative tapes or colored pencils because they get in my way and delay my progress into planning.

For some, the artistic approach to their planning system totally fits their personality. I’ve seen some beautifully illustrated notebooks on Pinterest and elsewhere. But for me and my personality, simple works best. I’m about getting things done in a mindful but natural way. 

Then I enter the day’s most important tasks (MIT’s). These are items that are usually deadline driven and are must-dos. Following my MIT’s are whatever I want to get done that day. These are tasks that are usually listed a kind of stream of consciousness manner. Whatever pops into my head gets written down. I evaluate after I dump what’s in my brain.

I follow that with an intention statement. I find that creating and writing down a statement of intention helps me formulate the appropriate mindset for the day.

Though challenging circumstances may arise during the day, by setting this intention early I’m more able to respond with compassion. toward others as well as myself.

Throughout the day I use my daily entry for as many pages as I need. Some days I’ll use half a page while on others I’ll use ten pages. That’s what I love about the Zen-Journal method – it’s wide open and free of pre-allocated space limitations.

The link between my Zen-Journal and a life of depth

In my experience we tend to live on autopilot most of the time. It’s a mode of living whereby we relinquish our intention to live with purpose and just let life unfold, reacting to whatever arises as it comes.

While just about everything in life is, indeed, out of our control, we have total control over how we respond…and therein lies the depth.

The late Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say,

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. Within that space is the power to choose our response.”

The last dozen or so years of my life I’ve been experimenting with what it means to live in that space. I’ve created a daily routine composed of meditating, practicing mindfulness throughout the day, and evaluating each of my responses through the eyes of an appropriate intention. 

Using my Zen-Journal in the manner I’ve described helps link my left-brained need for organization and planning with my right-brained need for freedom and limitless self-expression.

You might say that it helps bridge the gap between my business and spiritual brains.