Writer, Emma Dibdin states in her article, The Mental Health Benefits of Journaling, that “expressive writing through journaling can be a powerful way to process stress, trauma, and different emotions.” I refer to journaling as gardening of the soul. Journaling digs into the dirt weeding out invasive thoughts, fertilizing the heart, and watering the spirit keeping the mind, body, and spirit in balance.
One does not need to have perfect penmanship, grammar, and proper sentence structure to journal. My journal is riddled at times with just words and phrases with the complete thoughts and memories taking shape, if at all, many pages, and days or even months later. I call my journal a prayer journal because I lift these word fragments up for clarity and meaning. Oftentimes, I receive it and other times patience is the virtue. A journal can have any name or no name at all.
Journaling, write or type
MasterClass explores the pros and cons of writing versus typing in their article, Handwriting vs. Typing: What are the Benefits of Writing by Hand? I, personally, find the benefits of handwriting for the purpose of journaling outweigh those of typing. Handwriting helps me to be disciplined and thoughtful and when I look back at my journal entries days, months, or even years later I can readily recall my mood and mindset by virtue of my handwriting. My penmanship appears authentic more so than typed words. Journaling need not be kept to handwriting or typing either. Painting, pencil drawing, or photography are great formats for journaling. Thus, there are no hard and fast rules for journaling. Actor, Johnny Depp remarked that his body is a journal when asked about all his many tattoos. To each their own when it comes to journaling.
I use lined Moleskin™ journals that I carry with me throughout the day as anything may spur an opinion, a reflection, a question to ponder. Journaling turns me into an observer not only from within but of the world and relationships around me. If you find it difficult get into the swing of journaling, there are scores of journals with ready-made journal prompts to get you hooked on journaling.
Journaling, a personal memoir
Journaling has become a form of survival for me. Journaling is an anxiety drug, addictive, yes but without the negative consequences. After years of keeping a journal, I briefly fell out of the habit. I began journaling again by looking at the process of keeping a journal as writing a letter everyday sometimes in the form of a prayer. Writing provides a form of clarity that brings with it a unique perspective that may not appear immediately much like the answers to my prayers but later when there is an opportunity to process the information fully in mind, body, and spirit.
The chaos of the world coupled with any chaos in mind, body, and spirit can make it difficult on some days to organize or even motivate me to open my journal. During these times I may copy Biblical verses, meaningful quotes as well as paste photos in my journal to help center myself to dig deeper into what I am thinking and feeling.
In my last blog post, Harmony, the political season, I mentioned having a response ready for those who may want to engage me in sensitive, divisive, or personal topics such as politics, religion, or personal health matters. Journaling helps to define my responses, and in doing so, helps me to define my values and beliefs to be confident in expressing myself to others. My expressions do not always come out right but humanity in of itself is always a work in progress. Grace is powerful like the habit of daily journaling.
Journaling is like physical exercise. It can be difficult to get started but once you find that time in your day to make room for it, you will eventually see the benefits of it in mind, body, and spirit. If you want to achieve greater harmony in life, I strongly recommend the daily habit of journaling in whatever form suits you. You will eventually see a beautiful garden begin to bloom in every season.
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