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What is Journaling?

Journalling

In simple terms, it is totally up to you how you approach journaling. There are many recommended ways, but at the end of the day, the simplicity of journaling is that it is a safe space for you to have an outlet for how you feel and to put this on paper.

For many of us, verbalising what is in our heart and mind or how we feel out loud can be riddled with anxiety, fear, confrontation, and just downright overwhelming. Putting our feelings and emotions on paper, whether deemed positive or negative, offers a space where you can truly be yourself without judgment, and the chance for you to uncensor who you are at that moment in time. It will also be an outlet for pent-up emotions and can enable us to see situations more clearly, giving you the safe space to reflect and work through your own thoughts before relying on anyone else's judgment or opinion.

The most beautiful benefits of journaling are the constant journey through self-awareness and the insight into you. An exploration into what your emotional triggers, thinking patterns, habits, self-talk, and shadow self might be. Through journaling, you can really come to learn about the parts of yourself that you naturally embrace and celebrate and the shadow parts which need more self-love and compassion.

Journaling is also an incredible tool for relieving stress and anxiety, setting and achieving goals, enhancing your creativity, establishing your strengths and weaknesses, working towards your dreams, improving your communication and relationships, enhancing your brain and memory function, and, most importantly, being more compassionate to yourself and others.

So you can see that there are many benefits of introducing journaling into your life. The how and where to begin is usually the initial stumbling point. How often you do this is what feels right for you, although it is beneficial to aim to do this as often as you can or to make it a daily practice even if only a few sentences.

Here are a few tips before launching into your journaling practice:

* There isn’t a time limit. You can write whenever, wherever and for however short or long you like. This might change daily for you depending on what you are able to do and that is totally fine.

* You can write in ANY notebook with ANY pen. You don’t need to be restricted to one notebook and one magical pen to get started. Over time, many find that they have a specific journal, notebook or diary they wish to write in as they connect this with their safe space, but you do not need to be confined to one option, especially when getting started.

* No one is going to see what you write unless you let them or leave your journal out, without setting boundaries with those who might have access. Keep it in a safe or hidden space if you do not want anyone snooping. It doesn’t matter what you write, or what your grammar or spelling is like. It doesn’t even matter if you feel like you have written pure nonsense. The point is that you are writing what you are feeling at that point in time without judgment.

* Editing interrupts your flow and your creativity. Avoid editing or censoring anything whilst you're writing if you can.

* You don’t always have to write in your journal - you can also draw or doodle or colour or just add words that reflect what you feel and wish to put on paper.

* You don’t have to keep what you have written. Sometimes, you might just need the release of emotions, fear or negativity, and then to rip up what you have written, almost like a passing mood or argument. The point is, you decide what you want to keep, read, write, throw away and share. There are lots of ceremonial ways to let go of journal entries, maybe try doing a letting go meditation and then burning the piece of paper… safely of course!

* You CANNOT fail at journaling! This is probably the most important thing to remember.

Ways in which to approach your journaling practice:

* You can start by writing one line a day about anything. How you feel, what you wish for the day ahead, an intention or mantra etc.

* Gratitude journaling is an extremely powerful way to also start your practice. Each day, write down three to ten things you are grateful for. This can be done at any time of the day or night.

* Write about your goals or intentions for the day ahead. When doing this practice, try to fuse it with being present in gratitude, as well as planning ahead.

* Reflect on what has happened throughout the day. What happened that stood out to you and why? Maybe detail how you felt during this, what you wish could have happened instead, or how you wish you or someone else would have reacted.

* You can write about something specific that is on your mind or a feeling or emotion you are experiencing.

* Use journal prompts. This is an incredible way to get started and you get to pick and choose which prompts resonate with you. You can also become aware of which prompts you might be avoiding and write about them too.

* Write a letter to someone. It could be something you have been meaning to tell them, maybe something they have done to upset you or maybe why they are so important in your life detailing the love and gratitude you feel for them. You can choose to share this with them when you’re ready or keep it for yourself to reflect on.

* Use your journal to brainstorm ideas, establish your goals and your dreams, and how you can start working towards them. You can even work out what your strengths and weaknesses are in the different areas of your life (your career, relationships, friendships, money, health, intimacy etc). You can do this using short or long-form entries, bullet-point action steps, to-do lists, drawings, pros and cons lists - whatever you feel will help you is right for you.

As you can see, there are so many approaches to the art of journaling that work for different personalities and people, through different times in their life and situations. Get creative, be curious and experiment, this is how you can really open up to different sides of you and your feelings.

Journaling has helped many brilliant, powerful and wise people become better at what they do and is one of the most powerful mindful tools we have at our fingertips. The most important thing about journaling is being compassionate with yourself and understanding that we all have a shadow self we are working with and that writing can help you embrace and accept this leading you to a more fulfilled and happy life.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for, and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day”.
- Hal Elrod (author of The Miracle Morning)
Journaling 2

Initial Journal Prompts to help get started:

  • How do I feel today?
  • My intentions for today are ….
  • What are three things I am grateful for and why?
  • How do I want to feel today?
  • I would describe myself as …..
  • 3 things I love about myself .....
  • What am I most frustrated about right now and why?
  • I couldn’t imagine living without…..
  • Who am I grateful for today?
  • What is something I have learned recently?
  • What advice would I give my younger self?
  • I feel happiest when…...
  • I feel most energised when I am…...
  • I feel safest when……
  • What boundaries do I need to work on?
  • I would like to try…….
  • What are my dreams?

 

Did you know that if you are a member of the Soul Sanctuary family and you use our beautiful app, there is a wonderful journaling function on there that we encourage you to use after each practice (or any time you would like to make note of your thoughts and how you are feeling, or things that have come up for you).

It is extremely powerful to refer back to your notes, thoughts, feelings that you have made before or after a practice, as each time you come back to this you will have something new to reflect on.

"Like a lot of people I used to write in a diary when I was younger, but then as I moved into my teenage years, it become "uncool" to have a diary. For many years I didn't write or journal and I couldn't see how disconnected I was becoming. Not because my younger self's diaries were particularly deep or profound, but because writing them gave me time to be alone with my emotions no matter what words went onto paper. Since coming back to journalling over the last 7 years, it's been one of the most healing tools in my locker, so to speak. My journaling looks different every day; sometimes a list, sometimes a poem, sometimes just big words dotted all over the page, and sometimes an essay. There is no right or wrong way to come to this practice, but I recommend starting with two questions... "how do I feel emotionally?" and "how do I feel physically?" - these questions for me have continued to be such a good prompt when I just need a moment to check in with myself and see what is alive for me. I won't even always continue writing after that, but a lot of the time I do and so much clarity can come from getting words down on paper." 
- Cat Meffan
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