Category Archives: Journal Writing

Revitalise your journaling

How do you keep the momentum in your reflective writing practice? Is it mainly down to will-power? Or is it a well-ingrained habit?

If your journaling feels like it’s flagging, try these tips to give it a boost.

  • Introduce a ritual

Journaling ought to be a choice rather than a chore. It offers some ‘time out of time’ – giving you valuable space to breathe and reflect and write.

As such it deserves its own ritual. For example, maybe your writing time is at the beginning of the day. In your writing space light a candle. Breathe deeply and sit quietly in meditation for a few moments. Set your timer for 10 minutes and take take up your pen. Either free-write or choose 3 or 4 prompts that speak to you and complete your daily entry. Thank your journal and yourself as you bring your entry to a close.

  • Choose a theme

Perhaps you will choose to write your gratitudes, or the things you appreciate. Maybe select some positive affirmation prompts to help you write a new story of your life.

Alternatively you might list your values and select one per week to reflect upon each day. In the morning name an intention that will enable you to express your value throughout the day. Then, in the evening reflect on how well you acquitted yourself. But resist the temptation to judge! Give yourself a pat on the back or merely decide how to do better next time.

  • Be present

Give yourself new awareness of your present self, your emotions and your environment by writing about what you can sense both physically and intuitively. Tune into your body and ask it how it feels. Notice how being present brings a sense of time expanding.

  • Silence your inner critic

Give yourself permission to allow your pen to move across the page. Suspend all judgement about spelling or grammar or neatness. And certainly don’t think about whether you are presenting your best thoughts to the page. All this is a sign of self-censorship. Send your inner critic off to play on the motorway and get scribbling.

  • Build a relationship with your journal

Treat your notebook as a trusted friend who is delighted to hear from you every single day. Thank it for being there, and for the qualities it reminds you of most. Occasionally invite your journal to write you a love letter, or a note of support and acknowledgement.

  • Play with perspectives

It’s not always necessary to write in the first person. Sometimes if you have difficult things that you wish to express you might choose to write about yourself in the third person. This technique also enables fresh understanding and compassion for your actions.

Have fun revitalising your journaling practice with these suggestions. For more inspiration grab yourself a signed copy of The Journal Writer’s Handbook – while stocks last.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

July 15, 2019 · 3:27 pm

What makes life worth living

The unexamined life is not worth living.

So said Socrates in the 5th Century BC.

And they are words that ring true two thousand years later. Reflecting on our experiences, examining what there is to learn, and what there is to leave, fills life with richness and depth.

Otherwise life can be pretty flimsy. Think of the difference between a living breathing presence, and a cardboard cut out.

If you’re like me you are looking for a substantial experience of life. And reflective writing can certainly deepen our understanding and appreciation of what life is offering us.

So how can you make your life worth living?

Here are some inquiries to encourage you to examine and reflect on your experience:

What pleases me?

Identifying the things that bring most satisfaction in life is an important baseline to establish.When we know what pleases us – even the simplest things – we can always find refuge and relief in them.

What is challenging me?

Rather than turn away from difficult situations it is worth considering what is making them difficult, and what you are being invited to learn. Are they intrinsically challenging – or is your perception and way of dealing with them a significant issue? And what lies on the other side of the challenge for you?

What calls me?

Becoming aware of the things that interest you, that always catch your eye, that you most appreciate and want to spend more time appreciating is a useful examination. When you feel a calling it has an urgency about it, an inspired impulse that is practically impossible to ignore.

How am I responding?

Do you talk yourself out of your impulses? Do you resist them? Are you over-thinking? Over-rationalising? This is a sign that you are not being true to your own life but are rather attempting to super-impose a set of rules or obligations or expectations that your ego mind feels more comfortable with.

When beginning to examine and reflect on your life bear in mind that it’s the juiciness that makes it worth living. Pleasure, appreciation, challenges, lessons, call and response are useful things to hone in on to feel productive, worthwhile and connected.

Do write in the comments what these inquiries evoke for you – and whether there are other access points for you in examining your life.

JPcover2

For a source of prompts, exercises and inquiries to help you live an examined life, get your signed copy of The Journal Writer’s Handbook delivered to your door.

 

Leave a comment

July 8, 2019 · 1:12 pm

Getting past ranting

I have often used my journal to rant. I have often been so angry as I write that I push my pen through the page.

And it has often been cathartic. It has also often yielded new perspectives – once the initial ragings have burned away, as if my journal itself is pleading for its life. I am soothed. Until the next time.

I have written before about ranting here  and, rather beautifully, here.

Journaling is a great tool for absorbing the squawking frustrations of our monkey mind. It serves in the moment to download all our nastiness without having to inflict it on anyone else. But if that’s all we do, just write it out, then it frequently will come back to bite us.

It’s a good idea to get past ranting in your journal. I’ve learned that if all I do is rant then I run the risk of locking myself into a journaling loop, constantly revisiting it without much resolution. Writing is a powerful medium to reinforce our desires, beliefs, thoughts and wishes. It serves us to use it wisely, especially if our journal is an important tool in our personal development.

Of course you can choose to reserve your journal for the noting of things for which you are grateful or have appreciation. You need never descend to whining and whingeing at the pages if you so wish. But then you might find yourself in denial of the thing you most need to get off your chest.

To paraphrase Rumi, or if you prefer, “We’re all going on a Bear Hunt”, often the only way out of something is to go through it.

Which means converting our journal into a crucible of alchemy rather than a silo of toxic waste.

There are numerous techniques to enable this.

1.  The Handover

Entrust your rant to a higher power, and ‘hand it over’. You might use loose pages that you can then shred or burn in an emphatic ritual of relinquishment and release. You can then invite the superior entity of your choosing to give you inspiration for your next right step.

2.  Reporting

You might choose to detach yourself from your monkey mind and report in the third person on what it’s ranting about, rather than identifying with it. And conclude your entry with the prompt: “My advice in this situation is…” such that you identify yourself with your inner wisdom instead of the torment.

3. Telling a new story

At the time of this blog posting I am personally working through a series of daily prompts to help me actively change the story I’ve been telling about my life. Without taking conscious steps to tell a new story I risk cycling round the same set of unsatisfactory circumstances that have produced the undesirable results I am currently dealing with. Instead of ranting I am choosing to use prompts such as “I like knowing…”, “It’s fun to imagine…”, “I can see evidence of…”

This approach enables me to quickly invite perspectives about my experience which have a different energy; which aren’t mired in the disappointment and sadness I’ve been feeling. Within a short space of time – a matter of days – my mood and outlook have improved and new opportunities are revealing themselves.

4. Lessons learned

Acknowledge the frustration and then write about what you are learning through it, and what new resolutions you can make to change your experience.

In conclusion, if you find yourself stuck in the ranting loop, become an alchemist in your journal and use your emotions constructively.

What’s your way of getting past ranting? Do share in the comments.

Give the gift of journaling this Christmas

Leave a comment

June 13, 2019 · 2:11 pm

Great day of summer intention setting!

What a wonderful day we had at the intention setting workshop on 3rd May 2019!

Here’s what people said:

“A wonderfully exploratory day of soul and personal development. Questions I can take back and ponder on for each season. I loved the dancing during the afternoon!…It definitely opened us all up. Beautiful venue and very helpful staff – fab vegan salad with quinoa and beet burger.” – SA

“The day was full of prompts that really made me think; that pointed me in interesting directions; that scared me; and that finally gave me a sense of purpose. I enjoyed every minute of the day. Thankyou.” – MT

“I very much enjoyed the day. Great company, great facilitation and stunning venue. Very well organised, a well-paced day. I loved the small touches that made the day so pleasant, flowers, candles, music – and cake!”- BM

“I enjoyed the experience of physically writing words on paper…inspired by very thought provoking prompts. I enjoyed the dancing too! The choice of music was great! The pace was appropriate and the venue ideal.” – SG

“The day was brilliant – thoughtfully and perfectly organised, really well-paced and varied, hugely beneficial and inspirational. The group came together beautifully. The catering was also good and the venue was really comfortable,” – GH-L

If you want to create your own day of intention setting watch my free DIY retreat video – and get your intention setting guide – right here

And if you’d like to reserve your spot on the next workshop in October 2019, which will be a fabulous residential couple of days in the beautiful Cotswolds, find out more here. 

Leave a comment

May 4, 2019 · 4:14 pm

Be the human, not the role

One of the opening social gambits to which I have long been allergic is “What do you do?” I cringe when I hear myself asking it – I want to find a different way to find out about this endlessly fascinating individual standing in front of me.

When we ask each other what do we do it’s so we can neatly assign each other a role, a level of competence and perceived importance. It’s a polite way of judging each other. And it always feels wrong to me.

The best conversation opener I have ever experienced at a party was being asked what vaguely shameful thing I’d done in my life that could get me into the papers. OK, perhaps not quite the opportunity to discover the hidden gems of a person, but certainly a long way away from the usual chit chat that doesn’t uncover anything valuable to know about your new acquaintance.

As I recall the conversation that ensued ranged over art, love, relationships, horse-racing and philosophy. Not once did I mention what I did. It was one of the best parties I’ve ever been to.

When we focus on what our role in life is we soon become slightly bored with ourselves. Instead of paying attention to what we uniquely bring as a human being, we’re tempted to obsess about the things we SHOULD do as a parent, spouse, business owner, project manager, student, widow etc. Our own list of roles is endless.

If we’re not careful we can spend our lives trying to carve out our niche, our neat little compartment, without fully appreciating the heart and soul of who we are. There really only ought to be one neat little compartment we ever need to occupy – and by that point the heart and soul are long gone.

From a journaling perspective it is useful to make a list of all the roles we have in our life – and to write a few lines about the version of self we bring to each. If you do decide to undertake this exercise, be vigilant about how the SHOULDs creep in, how you begin to compare your actual performance in the role against your imaginary bench-mark.

Another thing we soon discover is that what we’re writing against each named role doesn’t feel enough. That there is so much else that we wish to express about ourselves – and inquiring solely of our roles just doesn’t deliver it. In this situation, reflecting on ‘what’s missing’, or better put ‘what else’ can be very enlightening.

A beloved friend of mine likes to paint scenarios of things that will and will not happen. As I listen and feel rising constraint and suffocation I realise that much of what he’s saying is based on his own perceptions of the obligations and expectations associated with particular roles – with perhaps a dash of bet-hedging. Few of these kinds of scenarios are based on how the people themselves are likely to feel, respond and behave, in a given situation, were they truly left to their own devices.

This feels sad to me, and limiting. While it is important to assume our various responsibilities in life it is very often mistaken to do so under the guise of superficial roles, without the guidance of our true heart and soul.

In this sense we never shake off our responsibilities, but we do have a better chance of tackling them with originality, creativity and flair.

Gift Wrap and Pencil

Hungry for more? Click here to sign up and receive my awesome cheat sheet of well-being prompts

Leave a comment

April 18, 2019 · 4:18 pm

Do you use your inner sat nav?

Have you ever considered that as well as having a satellite navigation system in your car, you also have one of your very own in your being?

And as you rely on your car’s sat nav to show you how to get somewhere, how much do you rely on your inner sat nav to show you the next right step in your life?

Our inner sat nav is otherwise referred to as our intuition or our knowing. The trouble is we have often forgotten that we have such things, and what their significance is, so we often override the directions they give us with the way we think we ought to go.

I’ve made this mistake in the car before too. Instead of following the instructions I’ve assumed I’ve known better, ignored the sat nav, and then ended up going round in circles.

Conversely, in a bizarre example of doubly betraying my inner knowing, I’ve also foolishly decided to follow the sat nav on a route I know well – and ended up in the back-end of nowhere, because I keyed in the wrong address!

The morals of these two stories are different – but with a common denominator. Firstly, in unfamiliar territory, don’t trust your mind over the sat nav; and secondly don’t override your own inner knowing just because your mind tells you you have a gadget!

Essentially our minds can lead us astray!

Yet in our culture the mind is considered to be the master of our cognitive process. As a result we do not remember to listen to the still small voice, which is the voice of our heart.

Journaling gives us heightened awareness of our inner knowing, as long as we surrender to the process of writing and allow the pen to move across the page without thinking too much where it’s taking us. It’s an adventure to hand over the steering wheel occasionally and to see where we end up, and what new insights are revealed along the way.

Often we can mistake the voice of our ego for our inner knowing – and vice versa. Like when there is an important decision to make and our mind leaps in with 15 cons to every single pro. I recently heard a good way of distinguishing our ego voice from our inner sat nav – if you hear many options simultaneously, almost out-shouting each other, then it’s the mind at play. But if the answer comes singly, quietly and assertively then it’s more likely coming from the heart.

As well as reflective writing, meditation and yoga practices really help in quietening the mind and allowing our inner knowing to come to the surface. Some say that the voice of our heart is at one with universal consciousness, the cosmic communication network that is full of creative ideas looking for a home. It’s fun to entertain this notion by stopping the ego mind chatter and opening ourselves to receive whatever single thoughts pop into our awareness.

And when they do, we need to be sure to capture them in our journal. Eventually our personalised route map will materialise.

Leave a comment

April 8, 2019 · 6:53 pm

“How can I keep it real?”

Realness means…

What?

It’s different for each of us. It’s worth the contemplation.

For me it is to feel grounded, active, on purpose, productive. It’s when things happen around me and I’m prepared to face them, to get curious and to find out what’s behind them.

Realness is to stay connected – to the real world, to reality, to my responsibilities.

And it is also to stay alert to new possibilities, without prejudice.

For a while I wondered whether keeping a journal might be about avoidance. That finding refuge in the ramblings of my imagination and the gazings at my navel might be a way of kidding myself out of being real.

But no. Quite the opposite.

For me keeping a journal is not to be an ostrich with my head in the sand. It is not to  daydream or deny.

Rather it’s a way of getting deeper into what reality actually is, for me. Deeper into where it lives and can be found.

And what I’ve discovered is that the most real thing there is in my experience  lives in my heart.

The more I tune into it, the more I act from that place, the more real I become: the more people tell me “You’re real.”

It’s nice.

So these days I make it my daily practice to hang out with my heart. It’s the place of courage, and, being adjacent to the breathing organs, of inspiration. It’s where love and truth and desire and joy and kindness and playfulness and curiosity are born, and borne.

I sit in meditation, and then I take up my journal and allow my pen to move across the page. The voice of my heart comes through loud and clear. The words flow. All forming coherent ideas, never forced. Or at least whenever it does feel like hard work, like squeezing blood from a stone, I know it’s because I’ve somehow shut myself off from my heart, and I am painfully denying my reality.

Because keeping it real happens naturally when we give voice to what is in our heart. Our heady ego might shoot it down – perhaps yours is right now as you read.

But listen.

You might just discern, beneath the noise, a little whisper of  reality coming from your heart.

Gift Wrap and Pencil

Hungry for more? Click here to sign up and receive my awesome cheat sheet of well-being prompts

4 Comments

March 26, 2019 · 1:38 pm