Journaling – the lost art of visiting our thoughts
When we take a pen and paper and open our minds and hearts to how we feel, what we are thinking, what we can see, hear and touch, or how smells and tastes affect us, we create magic.
Busy lives mean we compartmentalise our thoughts, feelings and emotions.
We act on auto pilot and we can forget to express ourselves. A pen and paper invite us to do just that. Once of the oldest forms of expression we have.
An invitation: permission to express, discover how we really feel within the world of our subconscious self. The side of us we don’t always allow to hold a conversation with us. The side we are often too afraid to set free.
So, you have a pen and paper – but what to write? So often we cannot think of anything we want to say so we don’t begin or we crash out our thoughts on a keyboard, often in anger or frustration. Letters, creating words which are lacking in care, because their format is already pre-set and even. Handwriting will vary with the words, emotion, and the speed of thought to paper and become a picture of expression in itself. You may take time over how each word looks if the meaning is important to you.
Stop. Put your pen down. Take a breath. Close your eyes and take another breath and listen. To what? Listen to your thoughts.
Keep your eyes closed and look into the dark recess of your head. The words are there. They may be humorous, they may be a double edged sword. They may be free and easy or hard to distinguish. They may make you laugh or cry or go to places you’ve tried to bypass for many years, but you can see them. Set them free…
Imagine being a word, a sentence, a paragraph or a whole story – wouldn’t you like to see the light of day once more and feel the air, the warm sunlight, the breeze as you move around and create shape and form on a page. Isn’t it time to release the old, musty, suffocating and stuck emotions attached to yourself. You have fear and sadness and anger wrapped around each of your letters. Set yourself free…
Find those words inside, talk to them, assure them that once you open the door and they flow from the pen that they will no longer hold emotions that make them feel overwhelmed and out of shape. No longer owned by you, they are free – no more attachment – no more past, just shape and form and colour on a page – a thing of beauty once more – no longer held back or embittered with unhealthy emotion and attachment to the past.
So, when you feel a moment where you need to express whatever is inside, visit those words in your head as you would an old friend and ask if they’d like to be set free and join with the words living in your heart. I am certain with encouragement and patience and the desire to be set free they will happily come forth and fill a page. Make their new home beautiful quality paper or a beautiful notebook – somewhere they deserve to live – and write them out with a beautiful pen and they will not only be happy to flow but will also create a work of art that is part of you. No longer angry or sad, but art created by your heart.
Read it back out loud and release them into the universe – free them from all they have meant to you – allow them to be words, just words, once more. No longer emotional baggage, no longer with a hateful sound – just words that can now move on and create new sentences and phrases – just like you – renewed, empowered and free to choose where they head next.
Why journal? It’s important to release, to let go, to create something new from an old story no longer serving you. Recycle without the emotional attachment. Let those words tell your story and then let them go – they are no longer yours – they no longer have an attachment to you, for you or to your past. They are simply beautiful words, enabling a language we should nurture and be proud to own, flowing across a page creating a picture of peace, breath and new beginnings.
WALK AND TALK
When undertaking therapy of any kind you may find yourself sat in a room with another person, no matter how comfortable you are with that person, however safe the environment, you may feel under pressure to talk, to express emotions, to explain yourself and your life. Still, enclosed, obliged. In an enclosed room we can feel uncomfortable with silence because there’s nothing else. Outside there is so much more and all our senses kick in. We may not be able to find words but our body still has smells, tastes, sight, and sounds to take in. All these will stimulate, relax, calm or occupy the mind.
When you are walking alongside someone you may feel a sense of freedom, you may be able to discuss more general subjects, i.e. what you see and hear around you, until you are comfortable to express your deeper thoughts and emotions. We have all 5 senses being stimulated; we’re exercising and the blood is being pumped around our body and we’re breathing fully, maybe for the first time in a long while. Motion, freedom and choice.
There have been scientific studies on the effect of endorphins released during exercise and MIND undertook studies on people suffering with depression and anxiety and found that 71% felt a decrease in their depression and were less tense. 90% felt an increase in their self-esteem.
Depression, mood swings, anxiety, sadness and lethargy are all emotions we can experience and when we do they all have one thing in common – breath. In their extremes, breath can become stilted, too fast, too slow, too shallow, laboured.
Walking regulates your breath and with that comes rhythm, evenness, a clearer head, a sense of calm and when the words won’t come or the emotions take over, focusing on the breath will bring you back to you and your core and can stop the brain from taking over. If you’re counting your breaths you simply cannot focus on your worries or concerns.
When you walk you pick up a rhythm from each other. Pace can be dependent on the discussion, casual, slow and thoughtful, fast and purposeful, it will set itself naturally. You become in sync and this walking step by step in itself creates a bond, a strength, an emotion. It’s a really powerful experience.
After a final session of walking, this time in total silence, each morning for a week with another woman, I wrote these words:-
The crunch of feet in time on the gravel slipping away to a gentle swish as feet find grass. The occasional flick of a stone as a foot loses footing or scuffs as they tire. The rhythmical left right, left right; sometimes one speeding, sometimes one slowing but always forming backing into a natural rhythm. Side by side, two determined soldiers march towards what? They don’t know. Just marching on to the future, side by side, step by step, shoulder to shoulder, friend alongside friend, Warrior women whom no one can now defeat.
These walks were incredibly powerful, our own thoughts became smaller, less scary, less dramatic, safer somehow in our heads. We felt a bond, even though we didn’t share our words we seemed to understand each other and even the sun rising over the hill as we climbed became therapeutic and tears flowed and with those tears, freedom. Tears, thoughts, stillness, expressions that sometimes words cannot cover yet they still allow the thing we most desire at times – release. Release from our illness, our disorders, our stresses, our lives and our own heads – whatever label you give.
• Fresh air
and provides the space for you to find you and begin the journey of self-transformation.