being human,  writing

Keeping a Commonplace Book

I have filled notebooks for years. It’s a sacred practice I continue today, a practice that gives meaning and guidance to my life, a practice that literally keeps me sane. I record things I am learning, I journal, write Morning Pages, and use these notebooks to collect pieces of life I want to remember.

Beginning in my pre-teen years, I kept a diary. I continued various journaling practices sporadically, and by my late twenties I was deep into yoga and yogic philosophy; I filled several notebooks with that wisdom that I still use in my teaching today. I didn’t know there was a name for what I was doing until a few years ago when I ran across the bullet journal concept that covered bits of it … but it didn’t address the scope of my personal practice. I keep a commonplace book.

A commonplace book is the name for a notebook that houses quotes, musings, personal notes, learnings, anecdotes, drawings, reflections and more. I consistently keep a commonplace book with bullet journal elements (personal calendar, to do lists, habit trackers, moon cycles, etc.) so my life is organized in one tidy space and provides a great tool for reflection any time or place. I take it with me everywhere.

Life is such a rabbit hole of experiences; it’s fun to go back and see all of the things I was interested in and subsequently studied throughout the years. I thought I’d share a few pages from my last few commonplace books here. Sure, I could record everything in digital note-taking apps, but there is something about paper, handwriting, colored pens and pencils, and the sacred creativity involved in keeping a commonplace book. It’s a grounding practice and one I cannot live without.

Here are pages from the last few books I’ve filled …


Keeping these commonplace books have made it easier to watch my life’s unfoldment. I don’t return to past books as often as I should, but when I do, it’s eye opening to see how far I’ve come.

One thing I’ve realized over the last six months, thanks to reflections in my commonplace books, is that I’m a teacher at my core. I miss teaching yoga as much as used to (full time), but I also see that there’s an evolutionary next step in the works––a combination of my writing life and yoga life––a marriage of the healing practices that have brought me to this point: embodiment, journaling, reading, writing, spending time in nature and commonplace book-keeping.

I am studying ways to teach and facilitate journaling practices for others and am synthesizing it with these practices that have been so healing in my own life. For starters, I’m working on a short guide to keeping a commonplace book to give others ideas as they begin to keep their own. Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in incorporating journaling and embodiment practices, check out Writing HERstory, which will be available in early 2020.

What about you? Do you keep a notebook? What do you fill it with? Are you as giddy as me each time you begin a new one, or look through the notes of years past? Let me know in the comments below.