Journaling is an extremely helpful practice for developing deeper self-awareness and clarity of thought. In this version of journaling, your journal should be a place where you work through and record significant thoughts and issues in your life. Utilize whatever format and method works best for you, whether it is keeping a daily diary, or a series of discussions with yourself. It is strongly recommended that you keep your journal in handwriting (as opposed to typing). Because writing by hand is so much slower than our ability to think, handwriting your journal allows you to engage in reflective thought on what you are writing, as you are writing. This invites and facilitates a more whole-brained contribution to the process and often triggers or brings out insights that would otherwise pass by.
Journaling serves two important functions. First it helps break circular thought patterns. It is the nature of the mind to continually work on unresolved problems until they are solved or go away. What often results is somewhat obsessive or compulsive thinking, repeating the same thoughts over and over again.
Journaling entails thinking through an issue as thoroughly as possible, and then writing down all your significant thoughts on the subject. Then make and keep a commitment to yourself, that you will not think about the subject again until you schedule a time, journal in hand, to consider it again. If you find yourself randomly thinking about the subject during the day, make yourself stop until you intentionally decide to spend time thinking about it once again. At first it takes a little practice, but once the subconscious is trained in how you want it to handle such thoughts, this approach becomes much easier. Once we get used to this, our mind is able to let go of journaled subjects, at least until the facts of the situation change.
Again, the formally memorializing the subject matter and every possible approach to the situation that we can think of, frees our mind to focus on other things. Going back to the subject and rehashing the thinking we already worked through and committed to paper feels like beating a dead horse. As a result, our mental energy is directed to new approaches and new ways of looking at things, rather than just rehashing the same old stuff. We go from circular thinking to forward moving thinking.
The second important function of journaling is to record the course of our progress. Many times, journal entries contain wisdom and insights that don’t surface until later readings. What may seem like an insignificant side comment when written can turn out to be the exact key to solving a situation that arises weeks or months later. Additionally it records the evolution in our thinking and spiritual growth. Many people don’t realize how far they’ve come until they go back and read their journal entries from the previous year. Oftentimes they are surprised at how “primitive” their old approaches seem.
Finally, as one compiles a journal over time, the journal becomes a map of sorts. This “map” provides markers showing where we have been and the route we have taken to get to where we are. Seeing this trail often serves as a pointer, giving us a powerful hint of where we are headed in the future.
Because a journal is intended to hold the most personal and significant thoughts and feelings of an individual, it should be treated with respect. Invest in a nice writing journal that symbolizes the importance of the information it will contain. Ideally, the type and style of the journal should have personal meaning to you.