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Spirituality Essay:

Journaling    ( October 2005 )

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Many people attest to the great benefits of journaling . . . as a general practice, but especially for working through problems.

Talking itself is an invaluable means for working through all the hodgepodge of thoughts and feelings of something troubling us - in talking we unconsciously organize and, importantly, find the words that create "meaning" out of murky emotions and angst. That verbalizing enables our minds to "sort things out" . . . .creating a catalyst for our natural creativity to start designing solutions.

We've all experienced that special understanding and clarity that somehow emerges, when we're able to share our concerns and troubles with a caring friend: usually it's not the "advice" they give . . . just the "ear" they lend that enables us to find our own path to a solution.

Journaling works in much the same way. The process of writing out our thoughts clarifies them for us. {An added benefit, compared to talking to a close friend is that you're free to write anything - no worry about divulging uncomfortable personal information.}

There are many forms of journaling, of course. But I'd like to share one that I've found especially helpful . . . the "stream of consciousness' writing. In this, the key is writing quickly (use a pen/not a computer . . . I like lined paper best). Don't worry about anything - form, punctuation, spelling (in fact - abbreviate wds if poss). Just keep your hand moving across the page - no matter what. If your mind goes dry, just keep writing anything (like "I can't think of anything I can't think of" until your mind kicks something loose . . . it always does). A lot of it will be banal, but watch the gems work their way out. The key is not censoring; what often helps that process is planning to rip it up when you're done, so inhibiting inhibitions get quashed.

I've found I'm almost always "different" at the end. I've gotten clarity of ideas, or feelings . . . or even more wonderfully, come up with whole new ideas or perspectives on something.

A great tool for personal and spiritual growth!

This is one in a series of essays on spirituality by Rick Childs, lay leader of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Mendocino Coast. You may want to:
Read more Spirituality Essays
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