Over thirty years ago, psychologist Ira Progoff, suggested the therapeutic value to writing in a journal. Since that time, many other benefits to “journaling” have emerged. Now we know that keeping a journal may relieve stress, increase creativity, enhance your immune system, deepen your spiritual life, generate insights and even result in some marketable writing.
Most of us are aware of the traditional value in keeping a diary or writing out a “to-do list,” or taking notes from lectures. Such activities help us remember things we want to recall. But few of us realize the value of journaling as a process. For instance, studies have demonstrated that the act of handwriting somehow stimulates your body to produce more T-cells, an invaluable component of your immune system. So for people struggling with immune system difficulties, start writing daily entries into a journal.
Initially, your thoughts and feelings are internal experiences. They are ever changing, flowing like a river. When you write (or draw) them on paper, you are making them manifest in the world outside your skin. It is the first step in the process of creating. Transforming your thoughts and feelings to physical, external symbols strengthens your creativity. Creativity seminar leader, Julia Cameron suggests in her book, “The Artist’s Way,” that you fill at least 3 pages with writing every morning. She writes, “The morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery.”
Journaling not only strengthens your creativity, it also gives you a safe way of dealing with ideas and emotions that you may be afraid to express in any other manner. Objectifying your innermost experience catches that internal flow and like a photograph, stops and holds forever, a moment of consciousness. After all, you hold a piece of your life in your hands where you can look at it, meditate on it, and deepen your understanding of it. When you write a journal filled with your own, personal ideas, thoughts, images and emotions, “The noun of self becomes a verb. This flashpoint of creation in the present moment is where work and play merge.” When you can see yourself described in your journal, you re-discover your authentic self.
Since there is no “right” or “wrong” way to do it, journaling is one of the most helpful vehicles we have for developing the great, time-honored tools for growth: reflection; self-observation; self-awareness; and self-questioning. Now, thirty years later, Ira Progoff writes, “…the use of a private journal is exceedingly common, not only in the religious life but wherever a person has a fixed goal toward which he is trying to direct himself. Journals are used especially in those situations where a person is having difficulty in attaining his goal.” If you have set goals for yourself, journaling might be one of the best ways to catalyze their attainment.
In his book, “Adventure Inward,” Morton Kelsey writes, “There is yet another and quite different reason for keeping a journal. The goal here is not simply that of achieving my own potential, but rather of deepening my relationship with that center of spiritual reality of which all the great religions of humankind speak. Here the goal of keeping the record of my life and struggle is not so much to forge the chain of growth as to bring my inner being to the blacksmith.” When you manifest in the physical world your own unseen spirit, you allow your true nature to be responded to and refined. If you hold the palm of your hand against your nose, you would never see your fingernails. You would be too close to them. Journaling allows you to view your true nature as if you were outside yourself. It also allows others to reflect back what they see “in you.” What a great tool for increasing self-understanding.
Avail yourself of this powerful method for taking charge of your life. Use it to discover who you are and who you want to be. Practice journaling so as to more effectively and efficiently become the person you were meant to be.