I’ve been journaling on and off the past ten years. This is an exceptional tool in helping people gain clarity, insight and even healing. I use it in my work and have seen amazing results with those who have followed through.
When I started my journaling practice, it read more like ” dear diary, I am tired. ” And went on to describe, in details, the level of my exhaustion till I got exhausted from writing. Eventually I developed a deeper, richer style of writing which I called “Contemplative Journaling.” I use my journaling practice as a way to develop insight, shift from a painful mood , feel more gratitude or simply gain insight into my parenting struggles. Is it my issue or my child’s?
Journaling doesn’t have to be reams of written word and there are many forms of journaling you can enjoy and gain therapeutic benefits from.
Expressing through paint, collages, or simply big bold words. I had a client who used to pin pictures on Pinterest everyday as a part of her journaling process. for e.g.: Using a vision board to express how a certain aspect of your life makes you feel. One can use magazine cut outs or draw or even use color to express. It’s also called intuitive art.
Few years back, I experienced a traumatic birth that left me feeling disconnected from my body and child. I decided to use an photo journal to explore different ways of seeing my situation. Every day I would take a picture of my baby, either feeding, sleeping or simply lying on me and notice how I felt. Slowly over the next few weeks, I found I had shifted from a fearful, disconnected place to a more loving and nurturing space.
You can create your own journal, around topics like self care, gratitude, your marriage, walks etc. All it involves is deciding on a subject that might be difficult for you ( e.g.: self care) and take a picture of something that day which is self nurturing or makes you feel good ( I’ve taken countless pictures of coffee)
Written journals are very useful in exploring themes or issues, looking back on events, and gaining insight.
You can write a journal in many ways:
Journal Prompts-A series of questions that help take you deep with your writing. You can find books that help you journal like the Artists Way by Julia Cameron or even the free meditation series by Oprah and Deepak Chopra which includes journaling( visit their websites). Quotes are another great way to start.
Intuitive Writing– Helps build your intuition and tap into your own inner wisdom to find guidance. After clearing your mind and getting settled,( meditation or few deep breaths) take a pen and paper, write a question and continue to write whatever comes into your mind without stopping. If you get stuck, write ” I feel stuck.” Keep writing and don’t think about where it is coming from. Soon you will be able to distinguish what comes from intuition and what comes from your rational mind.
These journals can further be divided into topic journals:
The best way to start a journal practice is to buy a journal you like. Not something so expensive that you fear wasting, but a space for your mind and emotions. This is your sacred space, so keep it personal.
Some tips on effective journaling:
Is there an area of your life which you are struggling with? ( e.g.: difficulties with your teenager). Every day, aim to take one picture of your child which is free of conflict and struggle( maybe they are asleep, or studying, laughing). At the end of the day, see how that picture made you feel. Can you create a moment with your child that can include this sense of calm ?After a week or 2 of pictures, notice how you feel looking at your series. Does it shift your perspective about your “troublesome teen”? Maybe you can include your teen in this project. Or turn it into a gift for them with a line about how you felt seeing them that way.
These are prompts from a Dream Journal which helps you identify what you want from life and what gives you meaning.
Answer these questions in your journal
These prompts will give you valuable insight on what really drives you.
Journaling is a valuable way of increasing self awareness, practicing meditation and working with emotions and problems. It’s easy to start and really quite a journey.