Friday, September 26, 2014

Journaling Circle

Journaling is more than just writing down what happened to you during the day. It has many positive aspects which can be helpful to you in mental, emotional and spiritual ways.

Journaling is an effective means of stress reduction. By writing about what troubles or frustrates you, this makes it possible for you to release much of those frustrations so you carry less of it with you. Journaling actually helps you to see and understand more clearly what you want and what is important to you. It helps you focus.

Routine journaling means making time for you, and this is something people do not do enough of. Setting aside time each day when you give yourself permission to openly examine your thoughts and feelings, and to value what you think and believe is in and of itself therapeutic.

Journaling can enhance intuition and creativity. It awakens your inner voice and helps you learn to trust yourself. It helps you improve your ability to gain insight and sensitivity to things going on both outside and inside yourself. It shifts your perspective so you can understand things differently. It reveals the great potential that 

is within you, and helps you find more meaning in life.

Journaling can also help you to access the spiritual part of yourself. When you journal, you create a special devotional space, a place that is sacred and holy for you. You can ask your questions, and receive your answers, from whatever source you choose. 

The American Medical Association published a trial of a "get it off your chest" writing exercise.  Seventy one patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis were randomized to write about the most stressful experience they had ever had for twenty minutes over a few days, as compared with a control group.  Findings from this study showed a significant improvement in standard measures of disease severity four months later. "Although it may be difficult to believe that a brief writing exercise can meaningfully affect health, this study replicates in a chronically ill sample what a burgeoning literature indicates in healthy individuals."

Smyth JM,Stone AA, Hurewitz A, Kaell A. Effects of writing about stressful experiences on symptom reduction in patients with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized trial. JAMA 1999; 281:1304-9.

Choose your writing tools carefully. A piece of notebook paper and a pencil may be an acceptable way to start, or is it? You are creating for yourself a special, private space. What do you want it to feel like? Your journaling space can be like your own little secret garden, or your own private library where every volume is about you! Choose beautiful colored paper, or a special bound journal book, perhaps decorated with a theme that is meaningful to you. Above all, it should feel special to you, so that when you open the pages, it's like taking you to another world.

There are several techniques. The first is to simply start writing. Don't think about what you are "supposed" to write, or any particular topic. Just let the words start flowing out onto the page, and see what is there.  What thoughts, feelings, ideas are on the tip of your tongue, ready to be heard? Give yourself permission to think about and express yourself on topics that might be tender subjects, that in the "real" world you probably wouldn't talk to anyone about or even allow yourself to consider very closely. Are there some things that would be impolite or difficult to talk about to another person? Are there thoughts you have which might make others uncomfortable, so you don't even really allow them to come to the surface so you can really examine them? This is your safe space, where anything is allowed.
What are you hungry for?  What craving is there within your soul that needs to be satisfied? Think about it as you begin to write in your journal for the first time.

As you write in your journal, realize this: what you think and want for your life is important. You are important, you are worthy, you are acceptable, and you are incredibly powerful. Allow yourself to feel what you feel, fully and openly, if only in this private space. Then later on, perhaps you will find the ability to live it in your real life. Allow the solitude of your time spent in this private space to feed you, to nourish you, to strengthen you. 

Join our online Journaling community.  Fill in the form below, and each day you will receive a different journaling topic in your email, as well as help with making your journaling experience therapeutic, fun, enlightening and valuable. 

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Copyright 2015  Judie C. McMath and The Center for Unhindered Living

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