“We listen at 400 words per minute, read at 300 words per minute, speak at 130 words per minute, but think at 1000 words per minute. When we write by hand, our thoughts slow to 300 words per minute. Why is this significant? It opens us to the process of reflection and allows us to go below the surface where life energy simmers. Here is where the answers lie.” Arlene Kroeker – Editor of Meditation and Health
I’ve been journaling since I was 12 years old, but it only became a DAILY PRACTICE during my 3-month hospital stay in 2010. With journals being the most common gifts amongst flowers and stuffed animals, I was encouraged by close friends to document my healing journey.
So I did.
Over the last 5 years, my journaling practice has evolved – influenced by trainings in: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Contemplative Care, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction & Advanced Energy Dynamics.
Now whether you consider yourself a writer or not, I encourage you to be open to trying it out. Like meditation and yoga, the practice of daily journaling can be profoundly therapeutic and healing.
The following tips are a based on both my personal & professional learnings as well as feedback from my patients. I myself use all 7 tips and find them to be quite transformative:
Tip #1: DREAMS
- For many of us, there can be a lot of subconscious cognitive-emotional stuff that significantly shapes our behaviours. These influences often exist beneath our own awareness….until we dream about them! For instance, emotions & beliefs that I haven’t been open to acknowledging will sometimes appear in my dreams. My naturopath has suggested that we need not take our dreams at face value (because some of the things we dream are just way too weird!). Instead, the best advice given to me has been to focus on the EMOTIONS being felt during the dream.
- In addition to emotions, curiously explore any messages that are being given to you in the form of symbols ie) numbers, animals, places etc. As explained by Neale Donald Walsch in “Conversations With God” – God communicates to us in SO many ways – and if you’re open to it, dreams can be one of them.
- NOTE: It is important that your dreams be the FIRST thing you journal about AS SOON as you wake up because that is when you’ll be most likely to recall your dreams. So do keep your journal & a pen beside your bed where it’s within easy reach soon as you wake up from slumber.
Tip #2: T.E.S (Thoughts – Emotions – Sensations)
- After using cognitive behavioural therapy & mindfulness to help patients with mind-body illnesses, I’ve become a huge fan of the practice of bringing awareness these 3 things: our THOUGHTS EMOTIONS & SENSATIONS. Many mindfulness teachers refer to these 3 as the TRIAD OF AWARENESS.
- By paying attention to our thoughts, we are understanding our minds
- By paying attention to our sensations we are understanding our bodies.
- And by paying attention to our emotions, well, we are understanding how our minds & bodies are INTEGRATED AS ONE.
Tip #3: GOD
- Whether you believe in God, Oneness, Universal Life Force, or Gaia, there is something sacred about taking the time to connect with an INFINITE LOVING SOURCE that fuels your spirit. Do commit some time during your journaling practice to write freely, openly & vulnerably to that divine presence within you and all around. Just as you would write a letter to someone you whose love & guidance you TRUST in…take a moment to write to God. Give thanks. Give love. Ask for help. If anything, just say: “Hi, I’m here.”
Tip #4: GRATITUDE
Gratitude really is a POWERFUL force. I challenge you to challenge yourself. If you are normally thankful for 1 thing a day make it 5. If 5, then 10. Sometimes I play a game with myself and try to fill the whole page with things I’m thankful for. The practice of gratitude helps us to:
- Broaden our perspectives
- Bring more positivity to our energy fields
- Be more powerful MANIFESTORS & CO-CREATORS – because the energetic frequency of gratitude is like a magnet attracting more of what you’re being grateful for.
- But most importantly, when we are in a state of gratitude for all that is in our lives, we are more likely to SHARE ourselves (time, money & resources) with others. In this sense, gratitude can be a means to being of GREATER SERVICE TO THE WORLD.
Tip #5: INTENTION
- If there’s one thing I learned through my experiences working in the field of neuro-rehab, it’s the significant role of our INTENTIONS as a precursor to BEHAVIOUR OUTCOMES. For instance, in order for me to move my incompletely paralyzed toes, I first have to set the intention to move it. This continued & persistent intention to do something results in the nervous system re-organizing and re-intergrating to support that intended movement. This is the type of work that I did with stroke survivors who had paralyses – we practiced intention first! Remember this:
- WHERE THE MIND GOES, THE BODY FOLLOWS
- Similarly, “Energy follows attention.”
- So if you’re not setting intentions as a part of your daily practice, I encourage you to do so. Look for inspiration anywhere to inspire your intentions for the day i.e., quotes on social media and spiritual resources such as the bible, tarot cards and/or astrology.
- Finally, if you’re a law of attraction fan, then you’ll appreciate how writing down intentions is a clear and powerful way of physically manifesting thought into action. So write ’em down and look forward to observing yourself fulfill your intentions throughout the day.
Tip #6 – WRITE IN CURSIVE
I’m a fast writer…and it shows in my erratic chicken scratches. By just looking at my penmanship one can almost feel the anxiety in my fingers as they strive to scribble every single speeding thought as they arise. However, things changed significantly once I started to write in cursive (which I haven’t done since elementary school). Having to journal in cursive writing has not only made my penmanship legible, it has slowed down the speed at which my thoughts come & go! With a slower pace of writing, there is more time and space between not just the words but the thoughts as well. This space is sacred because it is IN THIS SPACE BETWEEN…where our soul & spirit can be met.
Tip #7 – REFLECT
Journaling at the end of the night is a great time to literally get thoughts out of your head and onto a piece of paper (like parking cars of thought in the parking lot of your journal) – this way, thoughts are less likely to keep you up. Also, there’s growth potential in the process of reflecting on the intentions you had set at the beginning of the day. Did you follow through? Did you forget? No judgement. Just awareness. You can use this reflection as an opportunity to inform your future intentions or perhaps just as an opportunity to free write and allow creativity to flow through your fingers.
So there you go. 7 tips for transformative journaling. You can incorporate these tips however you feel will work best for you. No matter how you do it, TRUST that by committing to your journaling practice daily, you will:
- Live with more authenticity as journaling provides an opportunity for us to just be with ourselves honestly.
- Improve self- awareness, self care & resiliency – With a better understanding of your own mind, body, spirit and how they are integrated, you’ll innately implement better self-care habits which leads to a more resilient you.
- Manifest more powerfully – The more you “know thyself” the better you can “master thyself.” By understanding our own thoughts, emotions and sensations better, we can better understand the energetic frequencies that we are sustaining and manifesting. In other words, journaling helps us to be more conscious of the ‘vibe’s we are putting out into the world…affecting both ourselves and those around us.