Many of us have started writing a diary or journal at some points in our lives. And many of us have also stopped writing in them not that much later. That is a shame. Many famous artists, writers, entrepreneurs, inventors, and thinkers keep or have kept journals. For many, it is a creative necessity and outlet. For some, it is a place for exploration, and yet for others, it is an art form in itself.
Journaling can be enriching and fulfilling on many levels. It can lead to insights, personal growth, and setting and achieving goals. Journals record our thoughts, feelings, and reflections. In doing so, they create a through-line in our life, a place of refuge and reflection, that we can visit and revisit.
So, what are the benefits of journaling? What different forms can we use if we want to journal ourselves? And how do we go about starting and sustaining a journaling habit?
“Documenting little details of your everyday life becomes a celebration of who you are.” Carolyn Hamilton
Especially when we keep a gratitude journal, there are some added benefits. People that keep a gratitude journal are happier, healthier, more balanced, generally more optimistic, less self-centered, and less susceptible to feelings of envy, more relaxed, better in decision-making, and more strengthened in their emotions and developed in their personality.
Dream diaries: journal in them to keep track of your nightly dreams... or maybe your ambitions?
There are various forms of journaling. We can choose a traditional way, with pen and paper, or write in an electronic journal, use various media, or add art practices to our journaling (like drawings or collages, or even specialised forms like enso drawing).
Ten minute routine
An easy way to start journaling is practising the Ten minute routine. Before going to bed, ask yourself so-called “requests”: what are the things that you are trying to accomplish, and write these down. Then, in the morning, write down your answers and thoughts on these questions. This way of journaling is especially efficient to review and sharpen your to-do-list and life vision, as they become forged in your subconscious mind.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” Christina Baldwin
“Successful journals break the deadlock of introspective obsession.” Alexandra Johnson
A comprehensive method of journaling is using the Intensive Journal process. This copyrighted process, which can be learned in specialised workshops, enables the person journaling to get to know themselves on profound levels. The Intensive Journal Workbook is a large notebook filled with paper and divided into four dimensions of human experience: Life/Time, Dialogue, Depth and Meaning. Each of these aspects is divided into several subsections, to work through in the path that the method prescribes. Some of these paragraphs are used to write about our memory of the events of our lives as well as dreams and images. Others are more geared towards stimulating insights and creative activity.
Journaling: start putting pen to paper and reap the many rewards
Once you have developed a basic journaling practice, you can dig deeper and further expand your practice. Some commonly held beliefs and ‘best practices’ include:
Getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper can help bring about greater perspective
As we have seen in the above, journaling is a powerful habit that enables us to get a more in-depth and clearer understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and issues we are working through. Whether we use journaling to accompany our meditation, forgiveness, or gratitude practices, or to work through emotional trauma or creative stumble blocks, a daily practice enables us to focus and develop further.
“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.” Oscar Wilde
Personally, I seriously started journaling some years ago, as part of the Morning Papers practice of The Artist’s Way. I have written notebooks full of journal entries related to personal growth, gratitude, creative development, project ideas, personal insecurities, blocked traumas, to-do-lists, goals, dreams, and wishes, and much more.
I have journaled for weeks or months at a time, and have also not journaled for weeks in between entries. Every time I come back to the practice and sustain it on a regular basis, I feel I can go deeper, explore things more explicit, and in the process, experience a wonderful journey to my interior. I wish you the same journey as you explore your journaling practice! ●
Arlo is a filmmaker, artist, lecturer, and intermittent practitioner of metta meditation and morning yoga. When not dreaming about impossible projects and making them happen in the most impractical ways possible, he journals, listens to jazz, or cuddles with his better half.
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