My favorite tools for creating self-awareness are my morning pages, aka my journal.
For a long time, I frowned upon journal writing. I kept hearing how therapeutic journaling was, but I also kept thinking that it was not for me. I didn’t know what to write about. It felt a little silly to me, almost childlike. I was worried about someone finding my journal and reading my innermost thoughts. So I stayed away from journaling.
The turning point came when I began my training as a positive psychology practitioner. I was introduced to the work of James Pennebaker, Ph.D. an author of many great books including my favorite, Opening Up by Writing It Down, Third Edition: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain.
Pennebaker says,“Each time you write in your journal, express your deepest thoughts and feelings about some important emotional event or issue that has affected you. In your writing, let go and explore your deepest emotions and thoughts. You might tie your topic to your relationship with others, to your past, present, or your future.
Do not worry about spelling, sentence structure, or grammar. Journaling is most effective if you write whenever you notice that you are thinking or worrying about something too much. Set a length of time comfortable for yourself, anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Then continue writing until the time is up. You do not need to write every day. Instead, think of expressive writing as a way to clarify your thoughts and emotions”.
Becoming a student of Pennebaker’s work led me to question how I was making decisions about my life. I realized I was going through life totally outside of myself. I was reactive, impulsive and looking for answers everywhere except within myself.
In my quest to learn more about expressive writing, I came across Julia Cameron‘s Morning Pages. Julia explains that:“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.
Morning pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow”.
Benefits of Journaling
Research shows that journaling provides 5 core benefits: (I’m sure there are more, but these were enough to convince me to give journaling another try, this time with a set of fresh eyes.)
- Supports the change process
- Helps align with inner trust + knowing
- Clears emotional space
- Assists with uncovering our answers
- Fosters physical and emotional health
My Morning Pages
My morning pages feel like soul notes. Primarily because that is what it is: notes from my soul to myself. First thing in the morning, I ground myself by meditating. Then I grab my journal and write from my stream of consciousness for about 20 minutes. This typically turns out to be about one to two pages in my journal. I let myself be slow with this process, I pause, think, write and stay in that flow. It’s like I’m having a conversation with my journal.
I always start my notes with, “Good morning beautiful, today I’m feeling…”. (my astrological sign is Cancer, so with me, it’s all about my feelings!) The prompt is simple, but it always opens the door for a lot to be articulated on my page. I end my note with my intentions for the day (choosing my energetic state (being) and my top three aligned actions for the day. I also write out my future gratitude.
I love journaling in the morning because my mind is fresh and my spirit is light. Every now and then, I also find myself coming back to my pages before I go to bed.
I use my morning pages to:
- Ask for help, direction, and answers
- Activate the voice of wisdom
- Connect with my intuition
- Future Cast (visioning outcomes)
- Reconnect with my desires
- Capture my intentions
- Release overwhelm
- Ask “How Can I” questions
…and sometimes none of those things. It depends on how I’m feeling. Someday’s I’ll write for 20 minutes and every now and then its a bit longer. Someday’s what shows up on my page is profound and informative and sometimes, my page is a messy brain dump. Other days my entry for the day is a list or a mind map of sorts. And that is the power of journaling. It helps you experience a sense of relief, clarity and serves as a beacon of light for your desires to find their way into reality.
Journals become unwavering confidants and counselors.
What About You?
I would love to hear how you relate to journaling. Is it something that you practice? And if so, how has it helped you? Or is it something that doesn’t interest you? Chime in below and let me know!