March2014 By Mansi Podar Journalling is a valuable way of increasing self-awareness, practising meditation, and working with emotions and problems, says Mansi Poddar I have been journalling on and off since the past 10 years. This is an exceptional tool in helping people gain clarity, insight and even healing. I use it in my work, and have seen amazing results with those who have followed through. When I started my journalling practice, it read more like “Dear diary, I am tired.” and went on to describe in detail, the level of my exhaustion till I got exhausted from writing. Eventually, I developed a deeper, richer style of writing which I called ‘Contemplative Journalling.’ I use my journalling practice as a way to develop insight, shift from a painful mood, feel more gratitude or simply gain insight into my parenting struggles by asking myself questions such as: Is it my issue or my child’s? Journalling does not have to be reams of written word. There are many forms of journalling which you can enjoy, and also gain therapeutic benefits. Visual journalling An art journal – expressing through paint, collages, or simply big bold words. I had a client who used to pin pictures on Pinterest everyday as a part of her journalling process. For eg, using a vision board to express how a certain aspect of your life makes you feel. One can use magazine cutouts or draw or even use colour to express. It is also called intuitive art. A photography journal: Recently I experienced a traumatic birth that left me feeling disconnected from my body and child. I decided to use a photo journal to explore different ways of seeing my situation. Every day I would take a picture of my baby, either feeding, sleeping or simply lying on me, and notice how I felt. Slowly over the next few weeks, I found I had shifted from a fearful, disconnected place to a more loving and nurturing space. You can create your own journal around topics like self-care, gratitude, your marriage, or walks. All it involves is deciding on a subject that might be difficult for you (eg: self-care) and take a picture of something that day which is self-nurturing or makes you feel good ( I have taken countless pictures of cups of coffee). Written journals Written journals are very useful in exploring themes or issues, looking back on events, and gaining insight. You can write a journal in many ways: Combination of written and visual: You can use pictures to start the writing process or combine both. Journal prompts: a series of questions that help take you deep with your writing. You can find books that help you journal like The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron or even the free meditation series by Oprah and Deepak Chopra which includes journalling (visit their websites). Quotes are another great way to start. Free flowing: Writing two pages of anything that comes into your mind. This can be revealing. Often stuff comes up that we might be struggling with, and through journalling you can go deeper. Intuitive writing: Helps build your intuition and tap into your own inner wisdom to find guidance. After clearing your mind and getting settled (meditation or a few deep breaths), take a pen and paper, write a question and continue to write whatever comes into your mind without stopping. If you get stuck, write “I feel stuck.” Keep writing and do not think about where it is coming from. Soon you will be able to distinguish what comes from intuition, and what comes from your rational mind. These journals can further be divided into topic journals: Goals and manifestation journal Spiritual faith journal – exploring the bigger themes of life Problem-solving journal – specifically a space to tackle a problem Weight loss journal History journal – writing down your or your family history Travel journal – journalling specifically during a holiday Idea journal – this is great for people who need inspiration. Some tips on effective journalling Buy a journal (blank or lined) that you like It is your space, there is no right and wrong. No judgments Find a time or space where you can spent at least 5-10 minutes You can journal on your laptop but I find that cold and removed Be colourful, be creative, and be crazy. It is your world Keep it personal To help you get started, here are some journal prompts for building a journal: Photo journal An art journal helps you express with images and words Is there an area of your life which you are struggling with (eg: difficulties with your teenager)? Every day, aim to take one picture of your child which is free of conflict and struggle (maybe they are asleep, or studying, laughing). At the end of the day, see how that picture made you feel. Can you create a moment with your child that can include this sense of calm? After a week or two of pictures, notice how you feel looking at your series. Does it shift your perspective about your troublesome teen? Maybe you can include your teen in this project. Or turn it into a gift for them with a line about how you felt seeing them that way. Take a photo walk when you are stressed. Observe elements of beauty. You will be surprised how this exercise draws you away from stressors and into the present. Written journal These are prompts from a Dream Journal which helps you identify what you want from life, and what gives you meaning. Answer these questions in your journal What are the five things you enjoy doing? If you could have five career choices open to you right now, which would you choose? In your next life what do you want to be? What are you reading most of the time? It can be online, magazines or a book How do people describe you? What do you think are your talents? What did you want to be while growing up? Who are the people you admire, and what do you admire about them? How do you spend your time? What are your day dreams composed off? What excites you? Makes you feel happy? These prompts will give you valuable insight on what really drives you. Journalling is a valuable way of increasing self-awareness, practising meditation and working with emotions and problems. It is easy to start, and really quite fun.
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