Journaling. The image of someone sitting at a desk, late at night, with the soft glow of the desk lamp, using a beautifully crafted book with yellow-ish paper and an exquisite pen. I love that picture and the romance I associate with it. However, it does not have to be like that. For most of us, it isn’t.
I often proclaim my love for and the benefits of journaling. The insights – and release – from pouring what is inside into form and letting words colour it.
So how to implement a journaling practice? Below are a few pointers, but, in the true sense of journaling, I have attempted to steer away from do’s and don’ts and strict “rules”. See if you can relate…
Notice the words journaling practice. Like everything we adopt, it is exactly that. I am constantly amazed at how quickly we declare “I can’t”, It’s not for me”, or “It does not work for me”….always with the utmost conviction, without really trying or exploring. Is it because our sense of entitlement or gratification has gone so far that we refuse to even consider that something may take time and patience? So resolve to make it a regular practice.
Make it Special
Of course the image I painted in the first paragraph is just that – an image. It certainly doesn’t have to be like that, and for most of us, it won’t. But make it special. Choose your journal carefully and make it sacred – for you. Your innermost thoughts will go on to its paper, so it needs to be worthy of containing those thoughts. Hence, treat it with respect.
Light and Dark
So often we think it is all about analysis, writing only about the sad and deep emotional stuff. These may very well go in there, but it really is about reflections and experiences. It is to develop a relationship with yourself. When you start dating someone, you set out to learn all you can about them. But so often we do not apply that to ourselves. When you start having conversations with yourself on paper, “date” yourself – and bring in everything. Even the silly things!
Stories, Images, Dreams
Oriah Mountain Dreamer says it so beautifully in her poem, The Invitation. “It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living…I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing ”. So many people tell me they do not know what makes them come alive. They have never discovered their passions or that something they ache for. But I have also discovered that so many people are not prepared to search for it. They state it as fact and want you (or life) to give them the answers. The fact is, sometimes these passions are buried, so you may have to dig. It may even take you a long time. So what! You may discover many beautiful things on the way. So discover that through your journal, it really is a magical journey.
And one last thing – you may prefer typing, but I would really encourage you to journal by hand…it is so special. And apart from that, free-flow writing engages the creative side of your brain, which is exactly what you want to do. Challenge yourself to do it “differently” – if you usually are a very structured, built-point kind of person, then draw pictures, skip pages, right diagonally across the page…all these things encourages you to step out of your usual mode, which indeed does make the practice more freeing.
Some points on how to get started
Do a brain dump. Literally. See if you can start writing about everything that is in your head right this minute. Write about your day, however ordinary and uneventful as it may sound. It may feel clumsy, disconnected and irrelevant. That’s okay. Journaling doesn’t have to be structured, as I’ve mentioned. In fact, the more unstructured (free-flowing), the better. Remember, it is a creative process, not an analytical one. Insights may flow from the creation, not the other way round. It is, in my view, way more than a diary or literal account of events. It goes beyond that.
Oh and keep judgements at bay. If you find yourself making shopping lists or catch yourself writing about the stains on the carpet you see, perhaps jump to gratitude as a deflection. I find it helps to just avert your gaze and reflect on what you really are grateful for. And then continue.
Become the author of the story of your life. Make your journal your companion and keep on discovering… It is an art.
About the author:
Celeste Du Toit is a transformational Life Coach, Speaker, Healer, and workshop facilitator in Durban. She is the founder of YES Paradigm Coaching, a provider of self-awareness and empowerment programs, workshops and retreats.
Her approach is transformational. The premise is that empowerment starts within, so it is essential to identify and change limiting beliefs and inhibiting patterns that are keeping us stuck. She uses neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), powerful questioning, mindfulness and healing techniques in her repertoire, as well as inspiring with her presence, passion and vitality for life.