Journaling for Self-Discovery

Journaling is something women do very naturally. However, most often men, when they were boys, were in general discouraged to keep a journal. Journaling is thought to be expressing our inner most secrets and feeling, and boys are in general taught, “Real men don’t really express their feelings and it is only suitable for women.” There are always exceptions in this as it is for everything else. You probably don’t keep a journal unless you are a writer or work in a creative field like art. If you are in scientific fields you probably keep a research notebook recording your day to day research and findings. If you are an executive or otherwise professionally employed, you most possibly keep a diary or a notebook to record meeting minutes, decisions taken, etc. Most often it does not have anything to do with resolving your feelings, emotions or discovering your true self or other related issues.

Journaling is an excellent way to work on yourself, especially if you are not able to just sit and contemplate about it. It also adds variety to your spiritual toolbox.

I have kept a journal off and on throughout my life. Especially, after I started on my spiritual journey, I kept a journal to record my experiences, thoughts and emotions, to work through a difficult emotion or a question that I am afraid to face by myself by thinking or through sitting meditation, or just to record the dreams I have during sleep. Having the journal reflect myself back to me, like a mirror, is of immense help in detaching myself from myself and see what I am going through in a more objective way. Writing, in general, puts me into a state of meditation and receptivity—at least it does for me.

I use journaling for the following broad categories—(1) to write about a topic, (2) to get some answers to any questions I may have or (3) work through a limiting thought pattern or an emotion. If I already have a few starting sentences in my head, I start writing them down first. I keep my attention within my body to be present in the here and now. Then, I let my consciousness go where it wants to and let the writing move by itself. Sometimes, I don’t get anything coherent. I just let it keep flowing. I may even get disjointed words, meaningless sounds. If I am already in a state of calmness of mind, this randomness will be minimal. But, I know that it is okay to write gibberish. I suspend the inner critic/editor during this process. Let it keep flowing. As the conscious mind stuff starts clearing, my subconscious and super-conscious stuff start coming in. That is where my answers lie. Even during this process I keep the inner critic in suspension; just let the words flow. After sometime the writing stops on its own accord. Then, I go through what was written, with my original prompt in mind, deleting all those sentences that are irrelevant or don’t resonate with me, and keeping the rest. How do I know, I got my answers to my questions? While reading what was written I still keep attention within my body to check if I feel joy, peace, and warmth in my heart. You may also get these feelings while journaling, take a brief notice and keep writing.

A few years ago, I came to know that this process is called the stream of consciousness or automatic writing. But, this is how I have been keeping a journal almost all of my teenage and adult years.

Some people say that the stream of consciousness writing may be channeling of some other entity, but I don’t believe that it is coming from anywhere other than deep recesses of your own being. Of course, sometimes when I am agitated it helps me to give a name to my inner voice and have a dialog with it.

As I mentioned above journaling is an excellent tool to work on yourself. You can use this same technique in solving any personal, spiritual or work related problems are questions. I use the same technique for writing my blog articles.

Summary of the Technique

Here is the technique I follow:

  1. Write the question or topic name at the top of the page. If you like to use a computer, just type this at the top of the page in your favorite text editor or word processor.
  2. Just read that question or topic name a few times and mull it over in your mind for a few seconds.
  3. Tell yourself that you are writing this for your own sake and that it need not be shown to anybody, so you can suspend your inner critic. Forget all rules of grammar for the time being. Just enjoy the process.
  4. Start by writing down or typing the first thought that comes along. Then, write or type the next thought and then the next and so on until you feel the need to stop.
  5. Do this while keeping your attention within your body or breath or both.
  6. Make note of any feelings or emotions that may arise in your body while journaling.
  7. If a drawing comes up, just draw it. Whatever comes up express it.
  8. When you feel the need to stop, stop. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and feel in your heart that you found your answer for your problem.
  9. Open your eyes. Keeping your attention within your body in the here and now. Start going over what you have written while keeping your question/topic in your mind. Pay attention to the feelings and emotions that may arise in your body. If you feel joy, elation, warmth, and/or lightness in your heart or the body relaxes just a bit more, then keep those sentences. You will know that what you have written is true for you. You will just know.
  10. After you have finished editing, just go through your final version a few more times.
  11. Implement any further steps you may have written down in your final version.

Journaling is one of the techniques I use which works for me. I hope this helps you. What techniques do you use to connect to yourself and get answers from within?

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