October 1, 2014

Your Body Journal 2: Creating A Journal That Is Uniquely You {Re-post from 2012}

Cultivating Body Awareness Through Your Journal Making It Your Own...

You know your body better than anyone else; 

it's time to ask,  listen,  and heal from within.

Part 2 of a 3 part series, on how you can use a journal to better recognize the needs of your body, mind and self. This post walks you through the many types of journals you can work with. Part 1, Listening to The Voice of Your Own Body, explain why it's so important to listen-in and Part 3, Sensing The Seasons, offers a seasonal journaling exercise you can use to deepen your body-awareness. 

Choosing Your Medium...

...Create A Journal That is Uniquely You!

Since I was a young child I have created piles, and piles of journals. My first journals were hard bound, colorful and complete; the gold-edged pages secured by a mini lock and key. By the time I was in my twenties my journals took on many incarnations; a scrappy spiral notebook disguised by a collage of magazine clippings, the classic black and white composition notebook, a hard covered drawing pad...a pile of scrap bank receipts tucked away in the back of my day timer...and my most recent; a giant floppy sketch pad with plenty of freedom to write and draw as big or little as I feel like doing in that very moment. The greatest thing I have learned over all these years is--anything goes--as long as it's you and true, you are on your way to journaling.

Recording your thoughts, feelings, dreams, memories, and observations can be highly therapeutic. It can be a way to record your life events, or maybe a way to find patterns of behavior in your life and the world around you. There are many ways of journaling--even more things to journal about--and, they don't all have to be written! 

More Than Words.

I do love writing by hand, but, there are also many other fun ways to go about it! Creating a voice recording, a video journal or a photographic journal can be an incredible outlet to express and process your thoughts and emotions. It can also be a wonderful observation tool on realizing how you digest the world around you!

Though, there are many ways to journal, the most important piece is finding the way that best works for you. I am sure the last thing you are looking for in life is another chore to tend to....this should be fun, therapeutic, informative. If it's not, try out a new medium, time of day, or subject and know that it's okay if it's just simply not for you!

 Thoughts that come throughout the day have value, some of our best thoughts don't have the patience to hold on until our lunch break! If you are one of these people, I suggest you carry something on hand at all times. If you have a cellphone, send yourself a text right when your "Aha!"moment hits. Do you most relate to oral tradition? Consider using a voice recorder. 

I tend to do a little bit of each. Many of  my blogs start from a few short sentences I send to myself via text or email! I think a lot...many of my close friends may agree that I think too much! I can sometimes overwhelmed by the disarray of my imaginary "thought filing system" and writing things down helps me to feel grounded. When I record my thoughts, suddenly they become real; full of life,energy and form. It is through word that I feel better able to process how I feel, what I think, and why. 

What is the Right Journal Time and Space For You?

Take the time to see what your preferences are in journaling! A made a few suggestions below, but, I am sure you will come up with some ideas of your own--your options are limitless! Being comfortable with how, where, and when you journal can make it fun, and make it yours. Don't forget, it doesn't have to be on paper! If it is on paper you may lie to integrate colors, clippings from magazines, quotations, and drawings. Here are a few questions that I think may be inspiring to ponder over when day dreaming about your journal:

Will there be a topic?  Will this journal be an every day catch all? OR will you create one for day-thoughts and another for dreaming? Maybe you would like a journal specifically for an area of study that you find fascination? 

Will your journal have a name?  I have come to really enjoy naming my journals, to me it offers so much more life than simply recording the start and stop time of the entries! I like to create an esoteric title that is only a few words long. Something that describes a common life theme at the moment that i make my first entry. Each journal I do identify with a different life-learning time period in my life...to me it's all about growth and evolution. 

Will you choose to date each entry? I personally love to date my entries! In my dream journals I have two dates--the date of the night in which I fell asleep and the date of the morning in which I awoke. This may seem silly, but, if you enjoy dream work, and interpretation or simply connecting the dots from dreamland to wake land, sometimes such details on the dates can be very informative!

Pen and paper, Typing or Texting? Test out whether you prefer to use paper and a pen or a computer. If you use paper, play around with different mediums. You may find that you love to write really big in a giant blank sketchpad, or, you may prefer a pocket sized notebook, a lined spiral binder, a legal pad or loose leaf.  I love to use a giant sketch pad so I can write as large as I would like, and as crooked as I get without having "stay between the lines" anxiety. I think there is seriously such a thing! Once I realized lined paper caused me frustration, I switched back to a black canvas. This way if I am feeling a need for therapeutic drawing and journaling, I still have room on the page. 

Beyond Paper and Pen

Will you use paper at all or do you prefer the format of a blog, word file,  voice recording, video, etc. ? Do you enjoy making collages out of magazine clippings or maybe even making collages on your computer? 

Time of day: The time you choose to journal can make all the difference in the world! Test out the waters, when you find what works best, try to stick with it. My favorite time to write is in the morning, or very late at night. Though, I also have always loved to take notes throughout the day since it feels so grounding!

Frequency: Again, everyone is different. Of course, the more frequently you write, the more time and ideas you will record, but, don't do this at the expense of burning yourself out! *Just because one person makes ten notes a day, it does not mean that they will have any more astounding break-through observations than the person who writes one a day. And, really, it's not about break-through revelations...it's about just being. Really, this is one place where I think that having fairly low standards may be helpful! It keeps you honest ;) 

*Although, one type of journal where I feel 'more is better', is in a food-journal. If you are someone who is highly sensitive to your environment, the more frequently you record your observations, the more likely you are to hone in on those things that throw you off balance. It can be life changing.

Reflection: After you have collected your thoughts, consider taking time to look back. Reading through your old journals can be a very honest way to gain insight. You may find yourself surprised by your 'genius'at times! You may also be surprised at how many times it causes you to grimace ;)

Body Awareness Journals do best with frequent reflection: If you are making a body-awareness journal, I suggest looking at your entries on an every-few-days or once a week basis.  In this case, you would be looking out for foods or other environmental factors that throw you off balance... it becomes a game of deductive reasoning! However, this is not to be confused with a way to obsess over every little thing you do. It is a time to just 'be' yourself, french fries and all; a time to record, reflect, and listen to how your body feels. Once you realize what factors make you feel out of balance, it is up to you to gently, slowly and realistically take steps to remove them from your life.

On Creating Your Body Awareness Journal:

Treat Your Body As You Would A Friend In Need Of A Compassionate Ear

Sometimes creating such a journal can seem like a task. But, like all forms of wellness and self-health-care, you have to work for what you have. Some of us are born with an 'easier' physical package than others. I just see the challenge as an opportunity for accelerated growth and life learning. You can consider it a curse or you can consider it a gift...I choose to see it as a gift. All of my life challenges have helped me to be a more compassionate and understanding person for others. My biggest challenge has been finding a way to view and treat myself with this same patience, forgiveness and compassion in heart. I urge you to do the same :) You deserve it. 

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