Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself ~ Julia Cameron
Beginning a journaling practice isn’t complicated or difficult. All you need is a piece of paper, something to write with and a sincere desire to learn about yourself and your life. . Having a specific goal in mind, whether it is improving your health, dealing with difficult emotions or finding a new path to spiritual growth, is helpful, but far from necessary. Just begin writing–the process will unfold as it should.
When you first start journaling, plan on writing for about 20 minutes each day. It is best to have a specific time and place for writing – this establishes a pattern in your unconscious mind and makes the habit of daily writing easier to maintain. If you have a specific issue that you are working on or a goal you are trying to reach, you may want to create a calendar or a list of topics that you want to write about each day. If you do not have anything specific you want to write about, use the journaling exercises and quotes on our website as a place to start. As your practice evolves, you will find that you make connections and develop insights from one day to the next, and you need fewer and fewer tools to help you move towards the results you are trying to achieve.
Each day when you sit down with your journal, begin by setting an intention to connect with the deepest and most honest part of yourself. To do this, sit down where you will be writing and take three slow, deep breaths. Breathing in through your nose, soften your belly and let your lungs fully expand. Then, as you exhale, empty your mind of distractions while asking your subconscious to guide you to the part of your life that needs your attention now. Repeat this three times. After you exhale for the third time, sit quietly and listen to what your inner voice is telling you. Then begin to write.
Once you begin writing, write quickly, paying attention to the ideas that come to mind, rather than spelling, punctuation or your writing style. Use short phrases, lists, bullet points, even drawings to capture the essence of what comes up for you. You can always fill in any missing pieces later, if you choose. The average person thinks about 3000 thoughts each hour, far too many for you to capture them all on paper. Nevertheless, the more concise you are in your writing, the better your results will be.
Remember, too, to integrate right brain triggers, like sounds, color and smells in you journaling process. The act of writing is primarily a left-brain activity (linear, logical, focused, detail oriented), but insights, transformations and epiphanies happen when the right brain (circular, creative, emotional, big-picture,) is engaged. Listening to music, burning a scented candle, using colored pens and pencils, drawing or even just doodling are some excellent ways to stimulate your right brain as you write.
Need some more help? Here are a few more journaling tips to get you off to a running start.