"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart."
Finding a way to engage more fully in our lives and open ourselves to greater love, peace and happiness is a yearning many of us feel. Yet we tend to occupy ourselves with daily distractions and busy-ness, only to watch the days slip by without connection to any meaningful core.
The search for meaning can come crushing down when something pulls the rug out from under us -- like illness or loss or misfortune. Age may also play a factor in one's search for a spiritual core. We tend to look for deeper understanding as we age or watch our loved ones age. Still, a Pew Research study shows Millennials increasingly affiliate with no religious belief.
But for anyone -- regardless of age, religion or life situation -- wanting to find greater clarity and connect to a higher level of consciousness, journaling can be a valuable way to let your exploration unfold. A wide range of studies show that a daily writing practice helps you release and reframe the past, improves discipline and concentration, supports goal achievement and enhances self-awareness. When you identify the specific words that comprise your thoughts, a new level of understanding emerges.
But sitting down with a blank sheet of paper and expecting to pour yourself through the pen can be daunting for even the most inspired writer. To get past that first step of putting pen to paper, use any or all of these five topics to access the more expansive spaces in your mind.
1. Describe your goals and record your progress.
You're much more likely to achieve your goals if you simply write them down. The process of writing your goals signals to your brain that they are important, and then your brain organizes and prioritizes based on that information.
Journaling about your goals not only helps clarify what you're really going for, but also lets you expand upon them and push yourself to dream even more. Write all the details of how it will feel to achieve the goal, what it will look like, and the affect it will have on your and your loved ones.
Then, write about your progress. This will help you notice the ways in which you're evolving and expanding, and propel you even more toward reaching your goal because you see the momentum that's building. Ride that wave to completion.
2. Explore and resolve challenging experiences and emotions.
We all face difficulties in our lives and relationships, but it's what we do during these times that makes the difference in our overall happiness. Journaling can relieve the stress of these situations and put things into context so you can process and release the emotions. Just putting the experience and accompanying feeling into words makes the experience knowable, and therefore manageable.
Start by just putting it all down on paper -- even if it's illegible and nonsensical. Don't censor or edit yourself.
Once you've moved through the surface feelings and emotions, dive into the deeper layers of what's really going on for you. Try seeing things objectively and write down your observations about your thoughts, emotions and behaviors.
Forgive yourself, and anyone else involved, for the confusion, hurt and struggle. See if you can find a lesson or an opportunity for growth for yourself from this situation and journal about what that would look for you.
Lastly, answer this question: How would I move forward in this situation from my deepest values and highest self?
3. Take time for self-reflection.
Tap into what's going on with you. How are you feeling? What's taking up room in your thoughts?
Putting your musings, ideas and feelings onto paper will help you to understand and assimilate them so you can move forward with more joy and grace. Imagine you're talking with a best friend who won't judge you for any of your thoughts or feelings, and just write.
If you get stuck it might be helpful to go through some of the major categories of your life and reflect on how you feel about them: friendships, livelihood and impact, health, romantic relationship, creativity, community, play and spiritual health. Don't be afraid to go deep. Ask yourself the questions you're afraid to ask. Get to know yourself.
4. Develop your intuition.
Journaling is like speaking to yourself and listening at the same time. If you have any concerns, issues or questions, write them down and ask your unconscious to come on board while you're meditating or sleeping to bring you answers beyond your normal awareness. When you're done meditating or when you awaken, immediately write for 10 minutes about any breakthroughs or revelations. You might be surprised what creativity and inspiration come to you!
5. Reflect on the positive things in your life.
Writing about a positive experience let's your mind relive it, which boosts confidence in your ability to create happiness. Start by simply making a list of five things for which you're grateful. As you do this, you'll become aware of the awesomeness that's already present in your life.
Practice being as present as possible when journaling about these pieces of joy in your life. Writing about good experiences changes your orientation from scarcity and stress to abundance and peace.
©2017 by Briana and Dr. Peter Borten.
Reprinted with permission. Adams Media Publications.
The Well Life: How to Use Structure, Sweetness, and Space to Create Balance, Happiness, and Peace
by Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten.
The secret to living an exceptional life--with fulfilling work and leisure, meaningful relationships, and time for oneself--is finding balance. Briana and Dr. Peter Borten have the strategies you need to achieve this all-important balance in your life--even in the face of chaos.
Click here for more info and/or to order this book and/or download the Kindle edition.
Briana Borten and Dr. Peter Borten are the authors of the book, Rituals for Transformation: 108 Day Journey to Your Sacred Life. They are also the creators of the Rituals of Living online community and Dragontree, a holistic wellness brand. Briana is a Mastery Coach with an extensive background in coaching clients to help them reach personal breakthrough and mastery. Peter is a doctor of Asian medicine who helps people attain whole health of body and mind. He has authored hundreds of articles, spanning topics such as stress, emotional wellness, nutrition, fitness, and our connection with nature. Learn more at: www.thedragontree.com.