Find Yourself on the Page

It’s a new year and several of my friends have asked me what they need to do to develop a journaling practice.  My first thought:  patience and empathy.  It takes a bold writer to keep a journal but it is the best writing you will ever do.  

Journaling is a simple, rhythmic tool that allows you to develop a greater understanding of who you are, how you react to life’s ups and downs, and where to head next on this journey called life.  Often referred to as “the friend at the end of your hand” the meditative process of journaling creates a sacred space for personal healing, insight, and growth. Journaling can provide an outlet for emotions and feelings that are often hard to express to another person, even those closest to you.

What we know in our heart, finds its ways to the page and lessons in life come forth.

Here are a few tips to get started.

  • Create a sacred place – nestle into a cozy nook, bench outdoors, or comfy chair and surround yourself with the things that nurture your soul – inspirational book, warm cotton throw, candle, cup of tea, decorative pens, soothing music, etc.
  • Sit quietly and take a few deep breaths; focus on a simple request such as, “what do I need to know now?”
  • Do not edit as you write.  Start by simply recording your thoughts without concern for spelling, rhythm or word choice.  Simply allow your thoughts and emotions to freely flow.  You are now journaling.
  • Keep your pen moving.  Try to write for 20 minutes; if you need to, start with 5 and build up.
  • It’s okay to pause.  If you find yourself at a loss for words, pause to reflect until the words come again.
  • Keep a list of simple writing prompts nearby.  When your mind is racing or the thoughts too jumbled to put on the page, use one of the following prompts below.
  • Toss away the rules.  Journaling writing is for “your eyes” only and is a valuable tool to better understand yourself.  You can draw, doodle, write run-on sentences and use all the profanity you want.  It’s a time to unload and let thoughts and emotions run from your heart to the page.  Use the time wisely.
  • Be honest, brutally honest.  Journal writing is not to impress anyone, nor is it a place to spin your thoughts and emotions into what you think/believe/want them to be.  It is an express of honesty that cannot be replicated in any other setting.  Be bold.  Be daring.  Speak the truth.
  • Know when to resurface.  While it’s valuable to have a regular routine (e.g., 2-3 pages/day), it’s also important to come up for air.  Emotions can become overwhelming and you may find a portal deeper than you imagined opens up.  It will be there when you return.  Stop writing for the day and recenter yourself

Some writing prompts that come to mind . . .

  • What one change can I make that would enrich my life now?
    Who keeps coming to my mind today and why?
    What had I hoped to accomplish in life by now but have not?
    If there’s a single word to describe my life, it is _____.
    Why haven’t I found the balance in life I seek?
    Why do I resist happiness?  Resist change?
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