Journaling is a powerful way to uncoverour thoughts and feelings.It’s as though the act of writing helps to pry out the hidden, murky, unsure emotions, concerns, worriesandreflections from our bodies and our minds. Journaling is a great way to jot down half-formed, foggy ideas. To shape and develop them.
Journaling isa great way to create connections between seemingly disparate subjects. It’s helpful for spotting patterns in our own lives. It’s helpful for exploringour wishes, dreams, hopes,intentions; and for catching and containingour observations and descriptions of the world.
There are manydifferent ways we can approach journaling. Here are seven suggestions to try:
Pen morning pages.You might be familiar with the daily practice of “morning pages,” created by author Julia Cameron.Basically, every morning you write, by hand, three pages about anything and everything that comes to mind. According to Cameron, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pagesthey are not high art. They are not even ‘writing’…Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize andsynchronize the day at hand.” The key is simply to write down whatever is swirling around in your brain, which helps you clear out the clutter, and clear the path to creation.
Record a 5-minute check-in.At the same time every day or whenever you get a chance, record your thoughts and feelings. (Most smartphones have a recorder.) Simply talk about what’s bothering you, what’s making you smilethat day, how your body is feeling, what thoughts you’re having in that moment. You also might record your musings and observations. Speaking aloudcan be very helpful for generating and growing our ideas.
Respond to the samequestions or prompts.Journal your responses to the same questions or prompts on a regular basis. For instance, maybe you’d like to cultivate a gratitude practice, so your prompts are:
- My favorite thing about today was:
- I’m so thankful for:
- Today, I noticed this ________ about beautiful Mother Nature.
- I thankmy body for helping me to:
Or you might ask yourself check-in typesof questions, such as:
- Where am I feeling tension in my body?
- Where am I feeling ease?
- What do I need right now?
- What do I need this week?
It can be helpful to go back and read through your responses. You might learn that certain people, places, or events trigger specific emotions. You might learn other important insightsabout yourself.
The gratitude practice might help you become more aware of the beautiful things in your life, and even lift your mood on the tough days. Just a bit.
Practice bullet journaling. Digital product designerRyder Carroll inventedthis method.According to Carroll, notebooks are a “creative playground.” (I love that.) His notebooks are his canvas, where he “dares to create, to make, to plan.” Carroll has created his own notebook but you can use any notebook you like. Basically, bullet journalingconsists of four parts: an index to easily find what you’ve jotted down; a section for recording future tasks and events; a daily list of tasks; and a monthly calendar. Plus, you also use different symbols, such as an Xto denotethat you’ve completed a task. You can learn the specifics ofbullet journaling and how it all workshereand by watching this video.
Create a quick drawing.Whether you’re an artist or not, sketch how you’re feeling. Sketch your ideasor worries or aspirations. Sketch your surroundings. Sketch your nighttime dreams. Sometimes, drawing—whatever it is—can feel so freeing. And, in a way, it helps us to open various different doors inside our minds and hearts.
Correspond with someone else. Pick a close friend you’d like to correspond with.You might commit to writing a letter to each other every week. Write about how your days are going. Write about your wishes, triumphs, trials, frustrations. Write about anything you’d like your friend to know. Respond to your friend’s concerns and questions. Then at the end of the year, exchange your letters, so you each get your letters back. Look through them to read your thoughts and reactions at differentpoints in time.
Create a daily collage. Jamie Ridler, a creative living coach, makes a collage every day in her journal. According to Ridler, the idea is to capture the essence of a given day in visual form. She includes things such as:words she finds to be meaningful from newsletters she receives; images she finds to be interesting; movie tickets; and wrapping paper. If you’d like to try this but arepressed for time, simply include a single image, as Ridler suggests. You can watchvideos of Ridler’s inspiringjournals here.
Perhaps the most important part about journaling is that it involvestaking time out for yourself. To wonder, observe, reflect, dream, question, understand. It gives us theopportunity tolet ourselvesbe seen and heard. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, that time is powerful.
What’s your favorite way to journal?