I started “freewriting” about 20 years ago. My mother gave me the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron and it’s morning pages technique is probably what got me started in stream of consciousness journalling. Let me stop you right now, if hearing the word journal immediately brought you back to your youth when one would confide one’s biggest secrets to the pages of a tiny notebook with lock and key. We are a long way from the days of “Dear Diary”.
What I love most about journaling is to witness what comes through first thing when I wake up or after I meditated. I believe that in that state, we are most receptive to our inner thoughts, almost like we have have tuned in with the Universe and the inherent knowledge we came forth with. Whatever comes through is pure and untainted by the challenges and energies of the day ahead of us.
Journaling has become a proven method for reducing mental stress and working through difficult emotions or solve problems. It’s a key strategy in recovery programs and keeping you on track when embarking on a course of change, because it provides an opportunity to be accountable to yourself, and to be forgiving also.
For many people, journaling is beneficial because it creates a channel for those thoughts to be expressed and let go. Journaling is a form of meditation, and the process of writing rather than the content itself is the benefit.
There are two forms of journalling.
- The first is to write about a specific topic, often using a popular method of journal prompts. This technique is helpful for beginners and people who have might have a timidity with exploring their inner thoughts and using journal prompts serves as a good “ice breaker” for starting the inner monologue.
- The second form is stream of consciousness journalling, where you put pen to paper and let the thoughts flow onto the pages, freely without direction or boundaries. This is the Morning Pages technique, written as you wake up, with no set topic and you just write about whatever comes to mind – no editing! The process is said to clear your mind for the day, creating a good environment for creativity.
Of course, you can invent your own method for freewriting — whether it be sitting down in the evening and typing for 20 minutes or taking a 5-minute break from work to jot your thoughts down in your Notes app.
Writing as a meditative practice can be done in addition to, or in place of other forms of meditation.
Six Easy Steps to Journaling
1. If freewriting is not for you, then choose a short phrase or writing prompt. You can use “In this moment,” or “I am feeling.”
2. Begin with a few minutes of mindful breathing, to help you settle into the position of your body and be in a writing mindset.
3. Write continuously, what comes to mind, using your chosen prompt for 10-15 minutes. You may want to set a timer to prevent the urge to look at the clock.
4. If you feel as though you have run out of things to stay, return to original prompt and begin again.
5. At the end of the time, close your eyes and take a few mindful breaths.
6. Read over your journal entry. Some people prefer to read out loud giving voice to their thoughts to better understand them.
Here are some tips to help you integrate journaling into your daily routine.
- Commit to journalling every day and decide when and where you will do it
- Decide on the tools you will use, ie. pen and paper, pre-formatted notebooks or a tablet.
- Keep it simple in the beginning and over time journaling will become a natural part of your meditation sessions.
- You do not have to write in a structured way. A journal entry can be a sentence, a paragraph, or just a few words. Once you start writing and reflecting on your meditation session, more thoughts may come to mind. You don’t need to worry about recalling every detail. Just start writing what you remember the most clearly.
Keeping your journal should be a rewarding, positive, and enjoyable experience. Remember, that it’s a way into your inner thoughts and that self discovery is a great gift.
Today’s Journal Prompt: I am aware of my interests and passions, which provide me with stimulation and inspire me. I feel grateful for…
Meditation intention for today: Today, I intend to release anything I may have taken personally.