Never Journaled Before?
Here Are Some Simple Tips To Get You Started
By: Dr. Rita Louise
While there are whole books that discuss the in’s and out’s of journaling, it is extremely simple to do and even master. But let’s start at the beginning. When I journal, I prefer writing with pen and paper. Some people favor journaling on their computer. While typing (especially if you can type quickly) does afford an increased speed in getting your thoughts down, I feel as if I lose something in that process. For me, I feel as if I can reach a deeper, more intense depth to myself as my hand moves across a piece of paper.
What You Will Need To Start A Journal
With this said, to journal, all you really need is a pen and a piece of paper. Since you may want to look back at your writings later on down the road, it is recommended that you use something that will keep your papers collected together. My husband, for example, uses spiral bound notebooks. I prefer to use 8 ½ x 11 artist sketch pads. The heavy, blank paper gives me the opportunity to include sketches that may come to mind. The unlined paper also allows my handwriting to be as expressive as my words, and the plain black cover affords me the pleasure of decorating it with cute stickers or other decorations I may find.
Many stores now-a-days carry a variety of journals you can choose from. Find one that feels right to you. They come in all shapes and sizes, lined and unlined, decorated and plain, and at a price that can meet anyone’s budget. Some people prefer writing with a certain kind of pen – or if you prefer writing with a pencil, that is okay too. The most important thing to remember is that this journal is yours and yours alone, so pick what appeals to you.
Where To Begin With Your Journaling
With your journal in hand, think of something to write about. Beginning topics can be as simple as writing about how your day was or what’s going on in your family or at work. As you begin to write, don’t just put down the facts, include what you thought and how you felt about the event, including your emotions – be they happy, sad, negative or positive.
As you begin writing, the stream of words coming to you may start out slow, but as the mind and body begins to relax and you begin accessing the information that is stored inside of you, your words will naturally start to flow. Allow one thought to lead you to another, and then another.
Sometimes this information will want to come out in one, fell swoop, with your words coming right to the point. At other times, they may twist and turn from one idea to the next. You might find that as your thoughts are processed, you will reach what feels like branches or choices that your thought process can follow. This is especially true when trying to work out a complex problem, where each branch represents some aspect of the issue that needs to be addressed, or parts of your psyche that are looking for a voice.
While you write, don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Instead, let your hand move quickly and freely across the page. If you think you’ve made a mistake or change your mind, leave it. Don’t waste your time erasing or crossing out words – this can interrupt the flow of consciousness you find yourself in. Sometimes as you are working, questions, issues or other thought tracks will come to the surface. This is ok – actually normal. Jot a quick note to yourself on the top or side of your page and keep going. You can always come back to these topics at a later time.
After a while, whether it is one paragraph or ten pages, you may notice that the stream of your thoughts that may have been racing earlier have now begun to slow down. This is usually an indication that you have reached the conclusion of this segment of your inner journey. Take this time to stop writing, or move on to another branch or thought that may have presented itself. If at all possible, do not stop writing mid-stream. As we process through our thoughts, there is always a beginning, middle and end. If time is against you, ask your unconscious mind to abbreviate what it wants to tell you, or to provide you with a breaking point. Also request that you be able to access this flow of consciousness again at a later date.
Also, before you close your book, make sure that you date your entry. Some people like to record not only the date of the entry, but the time, location and their mental / emotional state when the entry was made. This can be helpful when reading back an entry – especially if a long period of time has passed. What you do and how you do it, again, is totally up to you.
The Practice Of Journaling
Very quickly, you will find yourself becoming accustomed to the technique of journaling. At this time, you can move on to more complex topics. Try asking yourself questions you have been searching for answers to. “Should I look for a new job?” “What is keeping me from losing weight?” “I just had a fight with my husband – what was my role in the blow-up?” “I’m experiencing pain in my physical body – what is it trying to tell me?” The list of questions you can explore are endless, and with each question we ask, other associated and related questions or avenues of inquiry will make themselves known to you.
Since journaling requires so little from you but can provide you with so much, you might find yourself wanting to journal in all kinds of unusual places. There have been times when I felt an urgent need to explore, clear and release an emotionally charged topic – “like right now”! In one instance, I was in my car and there wasn’t a piece of paper, notebook, or tablet to be found. Out of desperation, I dug around in my purse and pulled out an old envelope. When that was full, I reached into the glove compartment and continued my ramblings on a fast food napkin. In that moment, basically all I needed was something I could write on. With pen in hand, I raced to capture my thoughts and feelings as they flew out of me. What you use and how you do it is really of no importance, especially if spirit is moving you as it was moving me that day.
After a journaling session, many people like to go back and read what they have written. Some wait a few days and then do a review. To me, it is always a treat to read what I have written in an old journal, especially one that is a few years old. It is a blessing to be able to go back and acknowledge where I have been and how much I’ve grown in the passage of time.
If you have never journaled before, give it a try. It is the one self-help tool you can employ where no experience or training is required. You can’t hurt yourself or others as you process through your inner thoughts, and – best of all – spelling is optional. Be open to the healing aspects it can provide. Use it to help you access the innate wisdom you already possess. I’m sure you will be amazed how much clearer everything can become once you’ve explored it in writing.
By: Rita Louise, PhD© Copyright Rita Louise, Inc. – www.soulhealer.com . All rights reserved.