Tapping into your inner wisdom with pen and paper
Do you write in a journal? Occasionally or consistently? I’ve had diaries since my teens however only in the last 7 years have I journaled daily. Now, when early morning rushing to the gym, the office or other appointments sidelines my 15 minutes of writing I miss it. It’s a habit that reduces stress, and provides clarity, an opportunity to process life’s experiences.
In an era where we’re bombarded with information and stimulus, a mini computer in the form of a smart phone in our pocket or hand daily, journaling offers connection with one’s self. Connection to our innermost thoughts and feelings. While meditation also offers these benefits, for some people the action of writing is soothing and remarkably insightful.
Writing about our thoughts and feelings has the potential to enhance and expand positive life experiences while simultaneously relieving and diminishing the heartache that accompanies negative life events. It brings fresh perspective.
Here are my top tips on meaningful and pleasurable journaling:
- Choose a notebook you love; my preference is something brightly coloured and quirky. Lined pages of quality paper.
- Use coloured pens. I’ve always been choosy about my pens. I like something that feels good in my hand, that writes smoothly and in the past 3 months it has been bright purple ink. I suggest avoiding the ‘authoritative’ colours of black and dark blue.
- Sit somewhere you feel at ease, where there are minimal distractions. I prefer solitude. In summer I love to sit out in nature, in winter I have a special pair of flamingo socks that warm my feet.
- I learned from Stephanie Dowrick https://stephaniedowrick.com/published-works/books/creative-journal-writing-the-art-heart-of-reflection/ that its’ useful to tap into your five senses as you begin. Where are you, what can you see, hear, smell, taste and feel?
- Hand write, tapping into your thoughts, simply recording what you are thinking no matter how ridiculous or irrelevant it seems – this is time for self compassion, avoiding judgement and ‘have to’ or ‘should’.
Several years ago I learned about ‘journal harvesting’. The act of rereading one’s writing, looking for trends and insights. Doing this at the end of each month or season gives valuable insight into your life. What are the recurring themes? When you read about emotions and events that are positive, applaud yourself for the evidence that your life is fun and fruitful. If you notice recurrent difficult emotions and days then ask yourself what you need to change so that the themes of your daily life reflect your dreams?
The iconic and inspiring blogger and author Seth Godin writes,“Do enough bad writing and some good writing is bound to show up. And along the way, you will clarify your thinking and strengthen your point of view.But it begins by simply writing something.” https://seths.blog/2021/09/write-something/
And Julia Cameron, who famously promotes ‘morning pages’ for unlocking creativity says “Writing is medicine. It is an appropriate antidote to injury. It is an appropriate companion for any difficult change”https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
Rather than medicine, I liken it to a super food with a calming side effect. If the page stares back at you, blankly taunting you, there are dozens of lists of journal prompts out there. Simply put ‘prompts for journaling’ in your preferred search engine. Some of my favourites include writing about a new word, a memorable moment in your past or a line from a song.
Start today, challenge yourself to write daily for 56 days (the time it takes on average to establish a habit), then harvest your writing. It’s a key to living with vitality.
Wishing you a day filled to the brim and overflowing with vitality,