Milagrows: A simple daily journaling practice for self-acceptance, inner peace, and personal power

Do you know how to feel what you are feeling?

Do you know what are you feeling?

When your feelings are overwhelming, how do you move through them so you are not swamped and don’t get stuck?

It’s easy to focus on our to-do lists when we start the day.

The Milagrows practice is a chance to check in with how you are feeling and set the intention for your day.

Milagrows is daily structured journaling practice that has helped me to accept myself and the quirkyness of my life. Slowly. Gradually.

I find the Milagrows practice to be of particular help when going through bumpy patches in life such as break-ups, through grief, or in making big decisions or transitions.

Milagrows is a deceptively simple practice. It’s not an overnight quick fix. It’s something that can become part of the fabric of your life and help you to become intimate with yourself and accept yourself, every last nook and cranny of you.

Where it comes from

This Milagrows practice comes from Melodie Beattie’s book Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have into What You Want.

Melodie Beattie calls it the Miracles Project. I call it Milagrows.

A friend of mine stumbled on doing something similar and she called it writing her list of blessings in brown shit wrappers.

In the end, the milagrows practice is about lessening and dissolving our resistance to life so that we can find our peace and our power.

As Melodie Beattie writes in Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have into What You Want, “Resistance occupies our energy so we don’t have time or attention for much else. Resistance locks us into battle with reality, but mostly it keeps us engaged in battle with ourselves. The worst thing about resistance is that it destroys our power.”

Here it is. Very simple. Here are the instructions.

Every morning, you spend ten to fifteen minutes writing a list of all the things you are grateful for.

What’s special here: in this list you put your attention on the things you are NOT grateful for and plaster them with gratitude.

You can naturally also write about things for which you are genuinely grateful, but that is NOT the focus.

You are not trying to cheer yourself up, though that might happen.

You are writing these lists to become an intimate witness of yourself and your life and to welcome everything in.

You simply start the list at the top of the page, and then begin to write all the things, “I am grateful for…”

I am grateful that last night I didn’t sleep as well as I wanted to.

I am grateful that I have this terrible canker sore in my mouth causing me pain.

I am grateful for all the ways I judge myself for not making good choices in life.

That’s just for starters. Go for as long as you have the juice.

Melodie suggests taking ten minutes to write the list first thing in the morning.

When I share this exercise with people, often they do not understand.

They ask, How can you say you are grateful for something that you are not grateful for? Isn’t that lying or denial? Why don’t you just say that you “acknowledge” these things you are not grateful for?

There is a weird alchemy in welcoming everything and saying you are grateful even when you don’t feel you are.

You start to welcome all of life in. Saying you are grateful for these things that you do not want to acknowledge helps you to stop resisting, and when you stop resisting you soften. You accept yourself. Everything.

Let me make this very real for you. When you write your list, you write the date at the top and then let loose.

Let the lists be as messy as you want (not perfect, and there is no perfect).

As you go day after day, week after week, you will reach down into deeper and truer places within yourself that you have never quite articulated to yourself.

My first lists were very simple. They became more precise with time.

The aim is to be very real. I also write about plain old shit:

I’m grateful that mosquito buzzed in my ear last night all night and I could sleep only an hour.

Sometimes something that I’m actually grateful will pop up, but I don’t force it.

I’m grateful for the surprise of dancing with that guy who had just started tango, how good he was and how nice it was to tell him he had talent and mean it.

Why are these lists so powerful?

We are encouraged to focus on the positive. When we resist what is real, or what is shameful, those things grow larger in the darkness.

You are casting light on the darkness so that you can step into the light.

Get started

Take 10-15 minutes and try making a list like this. Write your “I’m grateful fors. . . ” first, and if you wish, your “wants,” then your “needs,” then a prayer for the day.

Needs and Wants

If you feel inspired, you can add on a list of “Wants” — things you want in your life for that day.

Then you can write a list of “Needs”–What do you need right now?

A prayer

At the end of your Milagrows list, you might want to set an intention for the day to seal the practice.

What do you want your day to be like now? What is your intention?

Close the practice with your intention for the day as a prayer, “Spirit (God, whatever you want), please help me approach this day with x, y, z”–whatever goes here for you.

Stretching

You might want to add stretching to your Milagrows practice before or after your lists.

When you write your Milagrows you will be releasing tension from your psyche. Stretching or even dancing will also help you release tension from your body too.

Emotions

Strong emotions may come up through the Milagrows practice.

If you have not been paying expressing your feelings you may feel like you have been dammed up, and now your emotions are exploding as you express them.

True transformation often involves some degree of pain in looking at things we have been avoiding. However, if you find that the process is overwhelming (for example, you can’t get out of bed), you may want to contain the process by doing the lists for five minutes some days and fifteen minutes others.

Crying is a release. Don’t be afraid if you cry. If you are overwhelmed, you may want to slow the process. We also need joy and comfort for our process of transformation. Transformation can also be gentle.

If we are working together, we can talk about how to “titrate” this process.

Partnering
Another way that you can make this exercise even more powerful is to do it with a partner.

You exchange lists with your partner. That’s all. No advice. No commenting on the list other than acknowledging receipt.

As partners, it’s important to agree that you will NOT comment on, give advice, or try to fix your partner’s problems. Your role is simply to read the list. To witness it.

Choose someone as your partner whom you can trust and who is more or less at the same level of maturity and development as you are.

When I first started journaling with the Milagrows practice, I did it for a few months with my friend L.

Here is what L. says about our partnership:

“Part of the reason it’s so powerful is because of the partners. When I forget to do it, I have a reminder in my inbox–a human real reminder. And when I feel shame, I read yours and realize that I’m not alone and when you say you received it, I feel shame go away.”

You don’t need a partner.

After a while, L. decided she didn’t want to do it anymore because she had other practices, and I continued alone, and that’s been fine too.

The book
Melodie’s book Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have into What You Want is wonderful and very real. I suggest you read it to understand her concept of miracles and how doing this practice will help you create miracles in your life.

I call it Milagrows because Milagro is Spanish for miracle and I see myself–and L.–growing so much by doing this practice every day.

Feel free to reach out to me

I often share this practice with clients and I look forward to hearing how this goes for you.

I invite you to try taking ten to fifteen minutes to do this practice every day as a foundational practice of self-awareness and self- and life-acceptance.

Try it out and see how it works for you. Give it time. It’s not a once-and-done. It’s a journey.