The Power of the Pen- Exploring the Virtues of Journaling
If you know me personally, have ever heard me speak, or have attended a retreat or training event with me, you know that I am a big believer in journaling for building resilience and supporting self-health. In fact it has been part of my morning ritual for well over 25 years. I never tire of it, and always look forward to the part of each day when my thoughts, emotions, and dreams are in partnership with my pen and paper. It provides comfort during rocky physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual times, clarity during times of confusion or overwhelm, an outlet for creating and visioning during times of change and transition, and a place to express my curiosity and interest in why, and what's next. For me, it provides a safe outlet for the outward expression and exploration of my inner landscape.
Studies have shown a relationship between journaling, a boost in the immune system (resilience) and recovery from illness or disease. Journaling is mindfulness in motion! Personally, I believe that journaling with pen and paper are best, as it requires more eye/hand coordination, provides more 'muscle memory', allows for greater creativity and expression (drawing, cursive writing, printing, strong pressure for big emotions), and it simply feels more personal and intimate.
So, how and where to begin?
Commit to setting aside all distractions for 15 minutes a day. Usually early morning or bedtime is best-simply see which works best for you, keep your journal handy, and stick with it for 2-3 weeks.
If you don't know where to start, begin with 'right now I feel' or 'I am aware that I am thinking about or worrying a lot about________' , or 'I'm not aware of anything that is bothering me or on my mind right now'.
Remember there is no 'right or wrong way'- this is for your benefit, and yours only. Let go of judgment!
Use your journaling time to:
review your day, or chronicle your plans or intentions for the day.
express gratitude and appreciation for people, events, situations...anything or anyone that provides ease, joy, and a smile to your face. Write about celebrations for your own courage, awareness, or accomplishments.
express curiosity about what your next steps or adventure will be, or what you would like to create or manifest in your life- especially during times of change and transition.
clarify and express emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, shame, guilt, hurt, or disappointment. ( I will often use journaling to 'rehearse' potentially difficult conversations or confrontations with people.)
record 'messages' from your body. If experiencing pain or discomfort- what is your body telling you?
Be honest and authentic with yourself when writing. It may be important to be clear with others in your living space that your journal is for your eyes only, and for your well-being (which benefits everyone around you)- and you expect and appreciate their respect of your privacy.
Make journaling a self-care habit and ritual! As your journals pile up (as mine have over the years), have a ceremony of burning, destroying, and releasing them with gratitude for your past, and moving forward with increased awareness and expanded personal growth.