Sitting down and writing the answers to questions in longhand sparks the internal flame of intuition, creativity and problem solving.
Answers start to flare up as you unclutter your mind and make room for creative solutions. You are able to “hear” the intuition coming from the right side of your brain. Then you capture it with the left brain’s language and analyzing ability.
Whenever I think of journaling as a practice, I think of Henry David Thoreau. He started keeping a journal at the suggestion of his pal, Ralph Waldo Emerson. In what is famously known as The Journal, Thoreau wrote of his philosophy on society, spirituality and life in general. Being an avid natural history lover, he recorded his observations about the flora and fauna he encountered on his walks through the countryside. Sometimes he wrote of the mundane events of his life, and sometimes he wrote poetically of sublime concepts. His entries were dated. He didn’t write every day, but almost. He often revised these musings and published them as essays.
But, unless you love the idea, you need not put that much pressure on yourself by officially keeping a journal like Thoreau did. And there’s no need to share what you write with anyone else if you don’t want to. In fact, all you have to do is grab a notepad, grab a pen, sit down somewhere and write. Then when you’re done, you can toss out what you wrote. Crumple the paper and throw it away. Shred it if you’d like. The ultimate point is to express what’s on your mind in the privacy of your own mind. Whether you keep it and/or share it is entirely up to you.
“Expressive writing” is a term that James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D. of the University of Texas uses to describe emotive writing. He’s a pioneer in the research of the power of words and the effects of expressive writing on health – both mental and physical.
His conclusions tell us that no matter your cultural background or personality type, when you write about meaningful or traumatic events, your immune function, hormonal activity and other indicators of stress or disease improve. Apparently it's not merely the venting or expressing of the strong emotions that induces such a change. When you write a coherent, reasoned story about the emotional event, you'll attain closure and gain a new perspective and understanding about the situation. This gives you the ability to get past the negative emotions.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron prescribes a daily practice of what she calls “morning pages.” She believes that writing three pages every morning helps you to see the differences between your real feelings and your official feelings, the ones that you show the world. She adds, “The process of identifying a self inevitably involves loss as well as gain. We discover our boundaries, and those boundaries by definition separate us from our fellows. As we clarify our perceptions, we lose our misconceptions. As we eliminate ambiguity, we lose illusion as well. We arrive at clarity, and clarity creates change.”
So, basically practicing self-inquiry through writing can help you shift your boundaries and arrive at clarity so you can create change in your conscious awareness. When you listen to your inner whispers, you become more conscious – you know what to do, where to go, what choices to make.
Christina Baldwin says it best in her book, Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest, “Conscious people are aware of the influence and guidance available through these inner whispers. The directions for our quest most often come from within.”
Angela Loëb is an author, speaker and self-development consultant who loves to study, teach and write about mind mastery, spirituality and life purpose. More at http://about.me/angelarloeb