The Joy of Journaling
I was delighted to meet a woman named Maria from Waywords Journals at a recent business forum. I especially loved the name of her company! Personally, I have always prided myself on being “wayward”, in that I have always sought to carve out my own path in life. l have journaled every day for well over 25 years, practically without fail. It is as much part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth. So the idea of a Waywords Journal for wayward writers really appealed to me!
As a psychotherapist, mother, author and entrepreneur, I have always found journaling to be a huge part of how I navigate my life and deal with challenges.
When I travelled during my twenties – staying in youth hostels along the way – I loved nothing more than being able to relax in the common area each evening and write in my journal. It kept me company. It allowed me to tell my stories and process my thoughts on the day I’d just had. It was such an easy companion. Journaling also helped me to stay grounded and catch up with myself as I travelled, saw different places, and met different people.
After my children were born, I was able to find myself again when I journaled. Childbirth is obviously a huge experience to process – irrespective of how the birth was – and again, it was deeply helpful for me to take some time to write about my thoughts and feelings.
Those journals have now become an amazing record of my experiences of being a new mother. They bore witness to all of the thoughts, feelings and worries I had at the time. My daughters are now grown up, but it was so interesting to look back at how I was back then, and how I used my journals to help me figure out my decisions around child care and work, and around the many outside opinions of how to parent them, feed them and nourish them. Journaling helped me to find myself again at that time, in the deluge of unwanted views and advice.
As someone who has always been interested in what’s next – in both my work life and personal life – I have found journaling so helpful.
My own style is to create three pages of free-flow writing every morning. These three pages are just a free flow of thoughts, ideas and feelings. Through this process, I am able to deeply listen to myself, and receive clarity and inspiration, as I jot down my ideas, frustrations, aspirations, and what ever else comes into my head. It’s a release for me – a place to offload – and when I am done, I have a greater sense of clarity.
I never reread what I have written, but if something useful comes up, I make a note of it in another diary or somewhere else.
My spiritual mentor Hema Vyas strongly recommends that we dispose of these journals when we have finished, as most of what has been written is actually composed of thoughts and ideas we need to release. She actually recommends that we burn them, to ensure that we really have allowed ourselves to let go and move past what we have written.
There are, of course, other ways to use journals. One frequently used practice is that of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Some people have a daily routine of jotting down three or five things they appreciate. Research shows that this daily gratitude habit can greatly improve our wellbeing – this, of course, makes intuitive sense.
Recently, I’ve started to use a journal to give thanks for the things that haven’t happened. It’s a bit like my “magic spell book”, as I am just intending these things, but acting as though the energy behind my desire has actually been manifested outwardly in my life. I will keep you posted on whether this method works!
I have also found journaling to be a great way to keep me writing. It’s a daily practice, in the same way that pianists practice their scales every day, or runners run every day. It’s great to keep writing if you want to write!
As a psychotherapist, I have found journaling to be a very useful tool to support clients through particularly difficult periods in their life. However, I am aware it’s not for everyone. Some people do not feel comfortable writing, and don’t see it as their primary medium of communication. I fully understand this, and don’t believe that it should be something we impose on ourselves as something we “have to do” because somebody else said it would be good for us. Some people may feel better going for a run or getting into the mountains, or even a local park.
But do give it a go! Journaling has been one of the blessings in my life, and a practice I have been very grateful to have. My journal has been my faithful companion no matter where I am in the world – physically, psychologically and emotionally.
I currently run groups for people who are feeling a little stuck or restless in their lives, and want support in taking their courageous next step at this important juncture in our personal and collective evolution.
More information is available at monicahaughey.ie