2020 was a year of reflection and introspection for most of us. Independent Illustrator, Designer and Creative Consultant Kosha Bathia took up the task of encouraging documentation and reflection on these times. As a life coach and an illustrator, the result was a journal that beautifully merged these two worlds. Me Time: My Quarantine Journal is a gentle and creative way to express and reflect against the background of current times.
Bookedforlife in conversation with Bathia…..
Me Time: My Quarantine Journal comes just at the right time. The memories of 2020 are fresh. While we try to resume normalcy, we are still not out of the pandemic. What role do you see this journal playing today?
The pandemic changed the world as we know it. We were living in bubble of comfort and were under the impression that we were in control. When COVID-19 officially became a global pandemic, we were confronted with reality. We saw the true vulnerability of human existence. Our lives were disrupted by fear, anxiety and uncertainty. Isolation was hard on us all. Having faced this collective trauma, the world is slowly struggling to get back on its feet. However, the world that will emerge as an aftermath of the pandemic will not be the same. Masks are here to stay. So is social distancing. At least for the foreseeable future.
The quarantine journal was designed as a collection of prompts that help process all this disruption and confusion. It helps to set our priorities right whatever they may be for each of us. Helps us navigate the “new normal” and make sense of the current situation in our own way.
The journal has a dual purpose. One, to document the unprecedented event of global lockdown – quarantine life. Two, to process this event and work on our inner selves; go on self-discovery and come out of it having greater clarity.
Tell us about what led you to conceptualise this quarantine journal….
Ever since I can remember, existential questions have pestered me. These were amplified during the lockdown. I am sure I mustn’t have been the only one forced to re-examine my life. Questions like ‘What am I doing with my life?’, ‘What will I do differently if I survive this?’, ‘Can I point to my purpose?’, ‘What makes me truly happy?’ etc. bothered me constantly. I tried to make sense of all that was happening, within and outside of me, by journaling. It was then, over a weekend at the end of July, that I got the idea of prompts to help guide my thought process. (The life coach in me took over at some point, I guess).
The quarantine journal has many curated elements. There are guided activities for drawing, colouring and writing- both long writing as well as shorter directed questions. How do each of these aspects work on the mind of the user? What are the unique advantages and influences of these that you expect the user to experience?
This interactive journal takes the readers on a journey of self-discovery through introspection, creativity and gratitude. The illustrated prompts were designed to help people process and articulate what they are experiencing.
Various kinds of prompts were designed to make the journal more fun! It’s not a journal to just write down your thoughts, but about immersing yourself in the experience of the activity on the page. For example, the prompt that asks you to draw an imaginary friend tries to tap into the creative child in you, allowing you to create your own safe space. Another prompt asks you to name your top 5 books. This is open to interpretation. Top 5 books of all time? 5 books you want to read? Or, books you read during quarantine? The best part is you don’t have to just name them, but you have the opportunity to design the book covers yourself! So, it involves a bit of creativity and play, making an otherwise dull prompt more engaging.
Thus, the journal encourages readers to write a letter to our planet, draw and note down favourite quarantine recipes, design their own masks, draw their quarantine partners as monsters, practice daily affirmations and so much more! As the book progresses, it enables the reader to dive deeper with exercises that emphasize action planning with an emphasis on solutions.
It tries to engage all of your senses, make you observe things more clearly, and focus on the small everyday things taken for granted.
What are the general benefits of journaling?
As I see it, journaling is a beautiful experience of spending time and getting to know yourself better. It’s like making an appointment with yourself. Just as you would plan to hang out with your friends, this is you hanging out with the most important person in your life – YOU!
Some general benefits of journaling are stress relief, mindfulness, awareness of your own thoughts, expressing yourself, etc.
My experience with it has been wonderful. Normally, my thoughts run so fast, it’s hard to keep track. But when I pour my feelings down on paper, I realize my hands can’t write as fast and so my thoughts slow down allowing me to keep up. Additionally, I have noticed that putting things down on paper really gives you an insight into yourself which would be lost in the clutter of the mind. There are so many occasions in which I found answers to my own dilemmas just by jotting things down. It gives you a sense of clarity.
Do you journal on a regular basis? How?
I don’t get the time to do this on a regular basis anymore. There was a time in my life when I used to do it every day and it helped me immensely. Now, I turn to journaling when my thoughts are too difficult to handle and I feel like I need to spend some time sorting out my thoughts and feelings to gain some perspective and clarity.
I write down everything that’s bothering me and somehow, while I am writing things down, the solutions seem to present themselves. I think it’s the slowing down that helps manifest the answers.
There is space devoted to meditation as a practice. How would you advice readers to use meditation in conjunction with journaling?
For me journaling has always been like a sort of meditation in itself. It is, in a way, getting to know yourself at a deeper level.
I have been practicing meditation and going for regular spiritual study for the last 6 years and there have been noticeable changes in the way I tackle situations now. I have realized the power of positive self-talk, mindfulness and affirmations. Every thought creates a certain kind of energy. When we use this knowledge and practice mindful journaling, it can be so much more helpful than just jotting things down aimlessly.
You have also included elements such as affirmations, habit trackers, illustrating and so on. The journal then becomes much more than merely a tool of noting down one’s feelings in longhand…it becomes more interactive in a sense. In the age of networking tools and social media, is the physical journal a fad, or is it here to stay?
Nothing can replace the feeling of drawing and writing by hand. We might have digital tools replacing a lot of what we used to do physically, but it never feels the same. So, no matter how much we progress digitally, there will always be people who value a physical book more.
The quarantine journal progresses from the everyday, fun things like moves you binge watched and the food you ate to going deeper and asking yourself what you really want in life and why.
Being a life coach and facilitating workshops on a regular basis has made me aware of the importance of focusing on the take home. The purpose of this journal is not just fun, though it is fun, but that’s not all it is. There is something you take away from it. From all the insights you gained from it, you create an action plan for yourself and stay accountable for that action plan. That’s where the habit tracker and affirmations come into play. You decide what changes you want to make in your life. But then, you also plan to bring those changes into your daily life. Because in the end, thinking and talking is a first step, but acting is what really brings about a change.
Do share some of the feedback that you have received from users. How has the experience of using Me Time: My Quarantine Journal made a difference to their lives?
People have loved the journal. It was a humbling experience to have an article about it in the newspaper as well. The feedback has been really positive. People see the benefit of a journal of this kind and I have had people tell me that it has helped them see this entire experience in a more positive light. Some of them found it relaxing and soothing and said it helped them gain access to their deeper thoughts.
For some, it was “a much-needed journal to reflect on the crazy times we’re going through”.
People who practice mindfulness on a daily basis think it’s a great concept for reestablishing a positive energy powerhouse required within.
Additionally, readers found the illustrated journal cute and a lot of fun as the prompts allow you to draw, write, meditate, plan, play quarantine bingo, etc. A lot of them found the prompts relatable.
Some of them gifted it to their friends and family who are front-line workers. Overall, a lot of them found it to be therapeutic and helped them with their anxiety about the current situation.
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