I love journaling. For as long as I can remember, I have kept a journal. It was the meditation I practiced before I knew what meditation was. You don’t have to be an amazing writer to keep a journal. Journaling is for everyone. And it’s been proven to help increase clarity, improve perspective and reduce stress.
The ancients also tell stories of journaling and its healing effects. The ancient Hindu ritual of “maha vasana daha tantra” describes writing down problems and bringing them from the subconscious into the external mind and then during the ritual, releasing the suppressed emotions.
“The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.”
~ Shakti Gawain
And then there’s the science. According to The American Psychological Association, regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes.
The research also shows that the act of writing accesses your left brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to create, intuit and feel. In sum, writing removes mental blocks and allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you.
Here are 13 ideas to get the most out of your journaling practice:
1. Draw or paint. Sometimes we don’t have words for what we are feeling and can begin to let the emotion out in the form of artwork.
2. For five to ten minutes just start writing as a “stream of consciousness.” Remember, don’t edit your thoughts or feelings and don’t bother to correct your grammar. Don’t censor your thoughts. Just go.
3. Talk to your inner child by writing his/her thoughts with your subdominant hand. Then respond back with your dominant hand. Notice what you find and what comes up.
4. Ask yourself key questions and then answer them from an open space, perhaps after a meditation. Are you right where you want to be? With work, your relationships, where you live?
5. Gratitude. Make a list of a few things you appreciate every day. Use positive quotes you find that uplift you and put them in your journal.
6. Just write about presence. Write about the present moment and where you are, what you feel, do, see, think… TODAY.
7. Snap a picture of a place/person/nature object that makes you feel something. Put it in your journal and write about it. Connect to your surroundings, especially the environment.
8. Write about when you succeed every week. Think of each success and log it in your journal for future inspiration.
9. Write as you play music that inspires you or moves you deeply. Songs may even trigger memories, let the stream of feelings and thought flow through you.
10. Write in third person if there is something that is hard to get out, that you struggle with, or that you find difficult to share even with yourself.
11. Write letters to people you cannot express what you feel to. This could be deceased relatives, your partner, your children, a co-worker. Keep them in your journal as you reflect on what you learned from your thoughts on the situation with them, so when you approach this person to talk, you feel more clarity or you just have a much needed emotional release in your journal.
12. We all have dark days, black moods, and anxious feelings. Use your journal to explore this darkness. You will actually find your inner light when you do.
13. Lastly, pause and breathe. Write down questions you have about life or concerns you feel then take a deep breath and listen for a response from your Higher Self. Let yourself write automatically. If you don’t get an answer right away, look for signs during the day and record them. This is your intuition speaking.