The act of journalling is a practice with ancient roots that date far back into history to the second century C.E., when the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote TO MYSELF. Keeping a journal is about documenting or chronicling the journey and not about arriving at a destination. Like the lyrics in the song, it’s a “never-ending story”. So true! So why do we journal and why does it matter? Here are some of the more important reasons.
Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards. — Sören Kierkegaard
We keep a journal for many reasons but more often than not, the act of penning down our thoughts or inner experiences onto paper or the computer screen allows us to take a step back to see things differently thus helping us to identify the deeper meaning and messages behind why we feel the way we do. It is a well-documented fact that those who keep a consistent journal score higher in tests for feelings of psychological well-being.
Journalling helps us to see things more clearly and to process and reflect on our reactions and thoughts, and to problem-solve. This is opposed to when we let our thoughts spin endlessly on themselves in our minds, maintaining only our one-sided perspective. As long as we make the conscious choice to remain open and calm, each time we put our thoughts or feelings onto paper will create a precious opportunity for us to see things from the other person’s perspective. This would then help us gain a deeper understanding into any situation. And we ask how we can give each other the space to be who we need to be.
Journalling also encourages creativity and a free flow of thinking because we know we are writing only for our own eyes without the fear of censorship from others. This freedom gives our brains the green light to churn up more innovative solutions. Nothing is too far out or crazy when it’s just between us and the journal.
A total frankness about our emotional life is only possible when it’s just between us and the journal that is safely locked away from prying eyes. It’s when we can freely allow our hearts to speak that we find spaces and opportunities for ourselves to grow and mature as souls. We connect with our emotions in a deep way when we realise what’s really eating at us and we go, “Oh, so that’s what it’s all about”. We are then in a better position to identify what is really at the root of the problem and how to deal with it in a positive and constructive way.
Why journalling works so well is really because it is an act of emotional disclosure. Studies have shown that writing down our feelings and emotions or whatever we are bothered by have the cathartic effect of reducing depressive and anxiety symptoms. They don’t stay bottled up in our minds where they continue to chase their own proverbial tails. This is why the yoga scriptures describe them as “vrittis” or churnings of the mind. Unless we do something, they will continue to spin and perpetuate whatever’s bothering us. By literally putting them out of our minds, we are giving ourselves a chance to become calmer, happier, and more capable of moving past any negativity.
What motivates us to do the things we do? Why do we feel the way we do? All these are undergirded by our values and beliefs. Which in turn create filters and blinkers that colour our world. Knowing how we function and the software that is coded into our mind and heart is half the job done. What we do with what we now know about ourselves is the other half of the story. That would be about having the wisdom and courage to change.
As our innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions, views on life, and experiences get an airing, fresh life comes in to take their previous places. Thus sparking off changes in the form of healing and finally a chance to grow into our fullest potential.
Crafting your own journal
Check out the various types of handmade journals I have created for my own use as well as for customised orders. They are in the videos in the main menu under the heading Creative Alchemy. You will find that a handmade journal is unlike any store-bought. It is uniquely yours because you have imbued it with your own special energies in the process of crafting it. Your handmade journal will become more than just an object to write in or a repository of your inner life – it will be a catalyst for greater awareness and growth in all areas of your life.
Activity: What do you use your journal for? Is it to study the self, chronicle your life story, or help you address current life issues? How has it helped you? Did you realise that clarity is gained only when you are 100% honest in your disclosures to your journal? How do you safeguard your journal from prying eyes?
~ ॐ ~