journals and journaling


Journaling: A Tool for the Spirit
by Susie Michelle Cortright

The fountain of personal wisdom may be as close as your 
nearest pen.

Thatís because keeping a personal journal can be 
a powerful way to ease anxiety and nurture your spirit. 

The word "journal" may mean 100 different things to 100 
different people. For a psychologist, it denotes a tool 
for a patientís self-analysis. For the writer, it may be 
a notebook of ideas and ramblings. For most of us, the word denotes a day-to-day diary, a log of action and reaction.

For me, a journal is a notebook of ideas and solutions 
that I have discovered using my conscious and subconscious mind.

Journaling is a remarkable device for easing worry and 
obsession, for identifying hopes and fears, and for allowing your creative self to expand.

Journaling harnesses the power to tap into successively deeper layers of your subconscious mind while it zaps the nervous, passive energy that ties your stomach in knots and leads to more guilt and worry.

Journals are tools to help you discover the wisdom you 
already possess. Sometimes, this wisdom will surprise you.  Other times, it will challenge you. Always, it will come directly from you, empowering you to trust yourself and to take action by giving you the deep-seated knowledge that you know more than you think you do.

In addition to revealing your personal insight and wisdom, 
the journaling process can help dispel feelings of loneliness and confusion by helping you discover a unity within yourself. 

As your conscious and subconscious mind work together to solve problems in black-and-white, the ideas are validated and more easily applied, even if you never share these ideas with a soul.

Writing for Insight

The act of writing has tremendous potential to tap the 
subconscious and to arrange conscious thoughts in a clear pattern as words flow from your mind down your arm, into your hand and across the page.

But first you must banish your internal editor by: 

* Writing quickly, allowing the words to freefall from your 

* Writing continuously. Donít erase or cross-out any words. 

Date each entry in your journal. Note the time, place, 
and any details regarding your mood and emotions that 
will be necessary for context when you read back on your work. 

After you've finished a journal entry, take a walk or 
get up for a glass of water before you reread your entry, 
and remember to reread your writing with compassion. 

Then, write an Insight Line--a sentence or two about what you think the piece is trying to tell you.

Journaling Techniques

There are as many journaling techniques as there are people who practice the craft. The important thing is to explore the underlying layers of your mind--using whatever conduit works for you.

Get creative with the techniques you use. We all have a 
subconscious mind that communicates to us in a different 

If you are stuck and have nothing to write, try 
recording snippets of conversations, facts, feelings, 
fantasies, descriptions, impressions, quotes, images, 
and ideas. Draw pictures. Make a collage from a magazine. 

Use the technique that best suits the way in which you 
express yourself. You know your own mind and how it best communicates with the world. 

Clustering is one method that works well when the ideas 
donít flow on their own. Put the central idea in the center 
of the page and circle it. Then, without pause, make associations, placing them in new bubbles and tying them to the main idea. 

The result is a complex matrix of ideas, many of which you didnít even know you had. If you wish, compose these thoughts later into a cohesive essay that says exactly what you want to say. Or simply move on.

What You Need to Begin Journaling

* Paper. The only thing you need is a notebook so your ideas donít get lost. Some journal-writers swear by the loose-leaf notebooks so they can insert pages, but Iím always afraid of losing some of the more personal pages, and I donít want anything to inhibit my ability to write freely and honestly.

Other journal-writers opt for the expensive, hard-bound 
journals, reasoning that the journal will be a keepsake. 

These work just fine, as long as you are able to write 
freely in such a formal book. Some of the things you will 
be writing will not be pretty. If you are afraid of making 
mistakes or you feel inhibited with this kind of notebook, 
youíre better off with a plain old spiral bound from 
Wal-Mart (my personal favorite.) 

Some of you will be creating more drawings than essays. 
If thatís you, consider a wire-bound sketch pad.

* Pen. Treat yourself to just the right pen.  Test some of the expensive pens. See how they feel in your hand and how the ink rolls across the page. The best choice is one that allows you to write quickly and smoothly. 

I personally love the easy-flow fountain pens because the color comes out so bold that it makes me feel more confident.  And it practically glides itself across the page.

* Environment. Your journal should always be there when 
you need it. Write on the bus, in the office, or late at night when insomnia strikes. If you have the time, a regular writing ritual can be very soothing.  If you do wish to write in the same place and at the same time every day, create the ideal writing space for you. Maybe youíre most comfortable in a rocking chair surrounded by pillows and candles and Schubert tunes. Or maybe you prefer silence and a cherry wood desk or a gentle breeze and a rickety porch swing.

Whether you set a time for writing each day or you do 
it on the fly, make sure the time you spend writing in 
your journal is time solely devoted to you and your task. 

Copyright 2004 Susie Cortright

Susie Cortright is the author of More Energy for Moms 
and founder of the award-winning, a website designed to help busy women find balance. Visit today and get Susie's *free* course-by-email "6 Days to Less Stress."

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journals and journaling

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journals and journaling