Journaling has evolved over the years from an account of events to a space where we can explore our innermost selves. Our journals can act as self-help therapists, safe places into which we pour our fears, desires and darkest thoughts without fear of judgement.
Journaling today isn’t so much about the words you write down, but the act of journaling itself. It is a therapeutic process that can help you:
Understand and accept yourself
Find your purpose
Change unhealthy thinking and habits.
Pretty much the same as a therapist.
Create your 'temenos' (sacred space)
At its best, the art of journaling combines many aspects of spa and wellbeing, with calming rituals to summon a creative mindset. You can write anywhere, anytime – many writers carry notebooks with them to record things that pop into their minds, or after a difficult experience, pour their feelings into the pages.
But the process of creative or therapeutic writing is more powerful – and pleasant - when we can enter a meditative state. This enables us to bypass our internal critical voice and fast track to our subconscious where memory, dreams and (in theory) our truer selves reside.
To do this, we recommend that you:
Create a calm space in your home where you will be uninterrupted. This could be on your bed, at your kitchen table when everyone is out or banished; or as Virginia Woolf advises, a room of one’s own. (Every woman should have such a room, the equivalent of a man shed).
Buy a beautiful journal. We can't think of anything more perfect for our purpose than this 'Find your Space' journal from London Velvet which comes with OTO's Focus CBD Roll-on (£98). It's as though they read our minds. We love OTO's high quality organic ingredients, combining CBD oils with Ayurvedic herbal essences. Apply to inner wrists and temples to summon your muse.
Set the time boundary. How long do you want to do this for? Ten minutes? An hour? Do you need water and tea, are you fed and sated? You can set a gentle bell to sound the end of your allotted time or keep flowing until you run dry. You decide.
Make it beautiful. Use throws and spa candles to create an element of mystery and ritual. Writing is a mysterious process: you may be surprised at the words and thoughts you summon. You could also take a picnic blanket to a quiet outdoor space and begin your writing session with some mindful walking or forest bathing, collecting leaves and found objects to inspire you.
Dress the part. Whether draping yourself in your most luxurious loungewear, or donning a bohemian floral outfit, dress as your writer self. Elizabeth Gilbert suggests you treat writing as an affair or a date: make it feel sexy and passionate. Maybe don’t distract yourself too much with that thought, though…
Mediate to access creativity. According to one study, meditation can promote creativity and bypass the monkey mind that wants to fill your head with to-do lists. You can meditate by focusing on your breath, inhaling essential oil rolled onto your wrists, or try a guided meditation. We love Heather Demetrios’s series of Mindfulness for Writers on Insight Timer.
Don’t think about grammar or spelling. Let the words flow. If you have nothing to say, write about having nothing to say. You can set yourself the challenge of not stopping, not even to look out the window and think. Just write. Or you can take it slowly and be more thoughtful. It’s your process: whatever works for you is right.
If you want to tackle a difficult subject, that’s fine – just make sure to set up support structures around it and be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend as your write. Create a time boundary. At the end, arrange a call with a close friend, an act of self-care to reward yourself (a delicious bath, maybe, or dance around the room to loud music), a positive writing exercise such as gratitude journaling or writing a poem, or another peaceful meditation to let it all go.
All the while, be mindful about how journaling makes you feel – immediately after, a day later. How does it help you? Are you inspired to write more, join a writing group, or have a go at that book/poem/article you’ve been thinking about but putting off starting? This process can also help remove any blocks to your creative flow – and it proves you can create the time and space to write.