The Ritual of Journaling

The Ritual of Journaling

Way before I read the The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, journaling was my most important practice. However, after I read it, my spiritual practice definitely took on a new phase. Julia talks about the importance of journaling. She suggests writing three pages every day, taking time first thing in the morning to write down what’s on your mind and how you are feeling. She even says if you don’t know what to write, write, “I don’t know what to write,” until something comes to you.

Before I read The Artist’s Way, I would say that I journaled when I felt the need for it. After reading it, I turned journaling into my morning ritual. Now, every day when I wake, while my French press is steeping (yes, I’m a coffee snob, but that’s for another post) I get my journals and my pens, and set my space to write.

Sometimes I light a candle, sometimes a stick of incense, sometimes I play soft music and sometimes I just “be” in the silence. I let the words flow out of my mind and onto the page. I’ve worked through many trials and tribulations through this process, and I’ve also celebrated many wins and successes. Journaling helps me hear my inner voice, the one that really knows what’s going on, the one that knows just what to do, where to go and how to be. I’ve learned She knows the truth.

I prefer to use one journal for brain dumping. You know, the stuff you never want another person on the face of this planet to read. The second journal is all about gratitude. It’s a journal I love to keep and refer back to when days are challenging and life is throwing its curves. The brain-dumping journal I usually burn, which is a very cathartic process. That’s a ritual in and of itself. I call it releasing what no longer serves. There’s something about watching what no longer serves go up in flames.

The journals and pens I choose are very important to me. Even the ones I burn! The brain-dump journals are still aesthetically pleasing but low in cost. The gratitude journals are nicely bound with some sort of positive saying like, “All You Need is Love,” “Start Each Day With Gratitude,” or “You Can Do It.”

The pens – oh the pens – they’re one of the most important pieces for me. My dear friend and colleague, Robbi Crawford, introduced me to TUL pens several years ago. They are awesome and the ink just flows. This may sound trivial, but it truly is all part of setting up the ritual. It’s important to connect to what you are writing in and writing with.

I’ve been asked many times, “Can’t I just type?” This is where I say no. And, here’s why. The heart is connected with the hands. The computer, the iPad, the smartphone all connect with the brain, which isn’t bad, except that this ritual is heart work.

No matter how much meditation I have done, how many spiritual processes I’ve moved through or how many new techniques I have tried, journaling is my tried-and-true method. It gives me comfort to get all of that stuff rolling around in my head and clogging up my heart on paper; plus, I’ve learned that after I do it I feel so amazing. I’m clear and focused.

Sometimes I am met with resistance when I recommend journaling to my friends or clients. I think it might come from not wanting to look at things or admit things. Or, some people actually had their diaries read at a very young age by their parents, so it sets up fear of reoccurrence.

I say don’t let the past or what hides in the corners of your mind prevent you from uncovering truths about yourself that will help you become a better version of you. And hey, if you’re truly worried about someone reading it I suggest you burn it or shred it.

Most of the time when people work through the resistance, they find great benefit. I even had a client tell me recently that she was learning so much about herself. And, isn’t that point really? To learn more about who we are so we can be that better version of ourselves and serve humanity in a bigger way?

Or maybe, it’s just to be more happier, lighter, joyful. Whatever your quest, give it a try. You never know where the journey will take you until you step on the road.