Throughout my lifetime I have started many, many journals that are still scattered throughout my house. From time-to-time I take a deep breath and delve into the blast from the past, which is usually a brave endeavor, to say the least. Why? Because I have mainly started journals to document most difficult times of my life. One, for example, is my divorce chronicles from 20 plus years ago. When I revisit it, I reopen the wounds slightly but not entirely because I come away with it with a sense of accomplishment that I have indeed survived that ordeal. I look back and think about all the injustices and also the regrets.
Some of you may have approached journaling as a place to dump all the horrors, and to be honest, I do have some more light-hearted ones with some very, very awful poems that have evolved into more palatable ones...but most of my journals were experimental, raw, often incoherent, which stored my anxieties and obsessions.
Journaling, however, doesn't have to go that route. It can be used for true empowerment, a place to go back and review and repeat your mantras, a place to fuel creativity. I will start journaling with this new approach, so here are 5 ways to think about journaling that can help you start your self-discovery:
1) Stay "Woke" Now
In other words, evoke mindfulness. What does that mean? That means stay in the present -- be grateful in the here and now...the beauty in peeling a pear, for example, listening to classical music while painting. Practicing this diffuses past hurts. Mindfulness actively engages your thoughts and past anxieties loses its teeth and is less likely to keep you stuck in the past.
2) Bridging Empathy
Empathy for those who have done me wrong is something I did not believe in because as far as I saw it, they had no empathy for doing what they did to me. I can now have empathy for their transgressions and understand why they may have done what they have done because of their own shortcomings. With that said, managing your emotions is a sign of high emotional intelligence. Anger is natural and transferring anger to page or on canvas can be an outlet, but there must be a resolve to heal in the end. Search in your journaling for this deeper connection.
3) Between Hand and Brain
It's often said that there is a strong connection between retaining memory and handwriting. If anything, recording a memory memorializes the moment but it also strengthens cognitive recall and mental acuity. Artists usually have their drawing journal for their studies to build on techniques, improve scale and experiment with perspectives.
4) Goal Setting
Reading my past journals where I dreamed of finishing my classes and obtaining my MFA in Creative Writing, I whirl with glee every time because I am proud that I have accomplished my goal. Goal setting can be small to large, so have a place where you can record them, and whirl with glee when you have also achieved them, too!
If you can maintain your journal and write regularly, you will strengthen self-discipline because in a nutshell, discipline begets discipline. Experiment and see the other areas that might come into focus where you can approach and compartmentalize with more ease after sharpening your self-discipline practices.
Here are some books that can help you set up/start journaling and then create your own!
"Start Where You Are is an interactive journal designed to help readers nurture their creativity, mindfulness, and self-motivation. It helps readers navigate the confusion and chaos of daily life with a simple reminder: that by taking the time to know ourselves and what those dreams are, we can appreciate the world around us and achieve our dreams."
"AMAZON #1 BESTSELLER! This is a Writing Journal. It is perfect for writing poetry, notes, lists, or ideas for your next book. Every page is the same as it is a JOURNAL--for you to fill in the pages. Each lined page has the same inspirational message across the top to remind you to BELIEVE. "
"Overall Length: 8 Inch, Width: 6 inch, Depth: 1.5 inches
Pages: Aprox. 280 pages counting both sides of Tree Free Handmade paper
Cover: Genuine Crazy Horse Leather. Distressed with more use.
Binding: Copic bound with same leather cord and leather strap closure
Design: Asymmetric front flap. Create your own pattern with Crazy Horse leather feature."
"Now more compact and featuring spiral binding to make for easier use, these Morning Pages invite you to do three pages daily of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness, which provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. This daily writing, coupled with the twelve-week program outlined in The Artist's Way, will help you discover and recover your personal creativity, artistic confidence, and productivity."