The Benefits of a Journaling Practice
“Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.”
— Jennifer Williamson
Do you have a journaling practice? I started my meditation practice as a way to connect with myself, a way understand my desires and values. For me, this was an effective way to quiet the voices of others and to hear my own inner voice. At the time, and still sometimes now, there exists an anxiety or an unease around my own uncertainty and of unknowing my own true beliefs. This is eased with meditation which allows me to uncover aspects about myself, values, and beliefs that were previously sheltered by pushing down emotions and allowing these parts of myself to be invisible.
Shortly after I began meditating, I also discovered journaling as another way to uncover these aspects about myself. Together meditation and journaling compound to create an extremely effective practice for me to connect with myself and hear my own inner voice. In this article, I will share some wonderful resources and journal prompts to help you get started or take your journaling practice further as well as an example of one of my recent journal entries.
A Journal Entry of Mine
I’ll share with you a recent writing from my own practice, then give you some practical tips to help you get started below.
Prompt: How am I understood? How am I misunderstood? How do I know my truth?
I have been invisible too long. I have let the voices of others in my head steer my path and decisions. I have let my labels define me…mother…daughter…wife…woman…teacher…shy…rule follower.
I have allowed myself to be misunderstood by others and by myself. I have allowed the friction of being invisible because it was the easy path. Because I didn’t know my truth. Because I didn’t want to be selfish.
The moment I felt my truth, the beating of my heart, the heavy ball in my gut, the tightness in my throat of words unspoken, I knew. This moment I wanted, NO, I needed to let my truth be visible no matter the friction, no matter the possible conflict.
My light must shine and not be shadowed by being misunderstood, by being invisible by my own allowance. My purpose, my wellbeing, my life, depends on it. I will be brave. I will be honest. I will be transparent, visible, understood.
This is me.
Why Choose the Practice of Journaling?
Every person is different and unique, as are their needs and reasons for having a journaling practice. I shared my primary reason above and perhaps you will discover a different reason for you. I would suggest that the WHY you are choosing to practice is so much more important to the HOW and WHAT you are writing.
According to this article from writeawriting.com, “A journal is that sacred space where writers are free to record their deepest thoughts, ideas, stories and inspiration notes.” Keep in mind, a writer is someone who writes. A journaling practice is not meant to be a published work of art, it doesn’t even have to be read by anyone but you if that is what you choose. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Author Ron Klug suggests, “A journal is also a tool for self-discovery, an aid to concentration, a mirror for the soul, a place to generate and capture ideas, a safety valve for the emotions, a training ground for the writer, and a good friend and confidant.” I invite you to consider why you choose to practice journaling and remind yourself of this reason often, even every time you begin your practice. This will help you decide how you want to journal as well as help keep you committed.
Create a Safe Space to Practice
Where you journal makes a difference in your experience. Perhaps choose a consistent space in your home where you feel safe and inspired to write. Perhaps there are some items you can have around that are symbols or reminders for you. I journal in my home office and enjoy being surrounded by beautiful plants, crystals, paintings and photographs that make me feel cozy and safe. What does your space look and feel like?
Create a Routine
Making something a habit takes time, commitment, and consistency. Choose a timeframe for your practice. I recommend everyday if possible, even if for only 10 minutes. Make it practical to add to your life. It helps if you anchor this new practice to something you do every day. If you already practice daily meditation, perhaps it is realistic to add journaling immediately after. Other anchors might be after your morning coffee, after you brush your teeth or walk your dog. The anchor acts as a reminder for your new practice. Be sure to get your copy of our comprehensive guide to creating a morning routine that supports you.
In addition to meditation as a precursor to journaling, I find some breath work and gentle movement to be beneficial before you begin writing. Let these practices open your awareness and begin to sense into your own body. Breath and movement seem to get the energy flowing. Any stuck emotions or thoughts are often released and your creativity is opened. Here is a movement practice that is designed to prepare you to sit for meditation and can also be used before you begin your journaling practice.
How to Get Started
I personally love using pen and paper, however, you may prefer to type on a computer or smart phone. You may want to pick out a special journal or look for a journaling app for your phone. See what feels right to you and simply start writing. There are no rules! There is nothing to do right or wrong! Remember YOUR WHY and that will guide your practice.
Natalie Goldberg, Author of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within says, “Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
Using a Reading or Prompt for Inspiration
Sometimes you may find yourself sitting down to begin writing only to find you don’t know what to write. Ok, maybe this will happen a lot, it does for me. As I mentioned before, I use this practice to connect to myself and my inner voice, and I do this because that doesn’t come naturally or easily for me. If you are like me and find that you are existing in your head more than your heart, you may benefit from a reading or prompt as a catalyst for inspiration.
There are may websites out there that offer prompts, simply perform a search and see what you find. (Be careful you don’t get caught up in the rabbit hole that is the internet!) I frequently read from a book for inspiration. Here are a few of my favorites:
There are many more available that I have not read that may resonate with you.
Below are some prompts and links to resources to help you get started as well. Skim through and see if any of them spark something within you. There are a lot to choose from!
- Inspirational quotes are a great way to gain some inspiration. Some quotes I love to reflect upon:
- “Just as a candle cannot burn without a fire, a human cannot live without a spiritual life.” ~Buddha
- “We’re here to feel joy and absorb all of life’s beauty we can. If pain comes, let it pass quickly through. Then move on to joy. It’s a conscious choice.” ~Melody Beattie
- “Don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn’t true anymore.” ~Cheryl Strayed
- “If I can only write my memoir once, how do I edit it?” ~
- “The very centre of your heart is where life begins – the most beautiful place on earth.” ~
- 21 Journal Prompts to Help You Make Decisions with Integrity and Love
- Honor Where You Are: Journal Prompts for Joy in the Journey
- Listen to the sounds around you and write about how it makes you feel or what the sounds make you think about.
- Listen to lyric less music and write about how it makes you feel.
- I am grateful for…
- Memory of a specific emotion.
- Ask yourself, “What do I need to know?”
- What is your true voice?
- What does it feel like to trust yourself?
- What makes me known?
- I say yes, when I mean no.
- How do I know my truth?
- What I’ve lost and what I’ve gained.
- Choose a word that means something important to you and write about that.
- unconditional love
- Read a poem and reflect.
- Reflect on the lessons from nature, the seasons, the weather, etc.
- Guidance from within
- New beginnings
- The fire within
- Letting go
- Practice a guided meditation and reflect on your experience.
- Read a spiritual or philosophy based article and reflect. Here are a few of ours that you may find spark some inspiration for journaling:
This is a lot to work with to get started. No need to be overwhelmed or let perfect be the enemy of good enough. Simply start writing! Let us know in the comments any benefits you experience from journaling.
“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
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