Journaling For Happiness And Spiritual Well-Being
Could a journal actually lead one to health and well-being?
As both a writer and health enthusiast, this is a question
I've given lots of thought to. As it turns out, I'm not the
only one. Upon further research, there's been a considerable
amount of press given to the idea that your journal could
be a path to health and wellness. In fact, Southern Methodist
University and Ohio State University College of Medicine studied
the effects of creative journaling and found it conclusive
in cleansing negative emotions and promoting a sense of well-being
In my own experience as a writer (and I think most creative
types will agree) being creative is not just an exercise,
work or discipline - it's a necessity. In fact, I never quite
understood my own personality until I was immersed full-time
in a purely science, left-brained college program. I would
often feel tired, lethargic and uninspired (clearly there
was more at fault here than having to memorize the phone book).
According to Carl Jung and Myers-Briggs (the creators of standardized
personality and interest testing) introverted types draw energy
from themselves and less from other people. We like to be
alone a lot and give lots of thought to the world at large.
Our extroverted counterparts, on the other hand, can also
be equally as creative, but tend to draw their energy from
others. Either way you go, emotions can sometimes become overwhelming,
need to be filtered then let go.
Over time (even amidst the sterile science program), I've
learned that I can find peace quickly by turning to my notebook
when upset or in need of inspiration. And - I'd be willing
to guess - this idea is not exclusive to the right-brained.
So back to the original thesis: Regardless of personality,
can writing be useful to you and your health? Hopefully, by
now I've convinced you it can. How to get journaling working
for you? Well, that's where I'll step in - here I've given
you three of my favorite exercises to help get you started.
In her book Writing Down The Bones, Natalie Goldberg has outlined
a sure-fire method to invoke the muses and get the inspiration
flowing. Timed writings.
Timed writings go something like this... collect your materials:
timer, notebook and pen. Sit at your desk or wherever the
spirit takes you (Starbucks, Borders, Barnes and Noble) launch
your timer for ten minutes, place pen to paper and see what
There are only two rules at play here: don't stop writing
and continue for the full ten minutes. Afraid you'll run out
of things to write? No problem. When you get stuck just keep
the hand moving along and write things like, "I am looking
for something to write.... I am looking for something to write..."
before you know it you'll be carrying on a conversation with
Anger is always a good muse, but I tend to use this emotion
as a catalyst to creativity. Something or someone upsetting
you? Get creative and purge your negative energy. How? Write
a letter. You won't need to send it. In fact as a ritual to
closure I have been known to write angry letters then shred
them, burn them or (insert your idea here). In fact this exercise
has been shown to heal negative energy and provoke closure
with angry emotions. Try it - then let me know (Laura mailto:NewBodyNews@aol.com
Creative Journaling Exercises
When I am feeling less that inspired, or want to get the muses
warmed up I sometimes like to take creative writing classes
online or off, or do some creative journaling exercises. If
you like the idea of sharing your writing, take a creative
writing course nearby. Check your local Chamber of Commerce
or if you prefer the convenience of online classes there's
lots to choose from. I've taken courses online at Barnes and
Noble University http://www.barnesandnoble.com/ and Gotham
Writers' Workshops: http://www.writingclasses.com both with
However, if you'd like to go it solo, give this exercise a
try. This one was created by my Mother, Donna. She is a writer,
artist and teacher (a real right-brainer!), she handed this
exercise to me when I was feeling stuck and uninspired. Not
only does this exercise stimulate your creativity, use this
healthy exercise to get you thinking about taking time for
Have your notebook ready? Set your timer again if you'd like
and aim to come up with the list "20 things that make me happy."
If your time was entirely your own, what are the 20 things
you'd want to do?
Ready? Now hit your timer and take this one for a test drive.
When you've finished, put your pen and paper away.
Tomorrow take a few quiet moments and bring out your list
again, add delete and edit. Now when you're not feeling like
yourself, take this list out and copy it over again. Try to
take time everyday to do one thing that makes you happy and
continue over time to add to your list. Keep up your practice
and you'll find - happiness is not just a fixture in your
Laura Turner is a natural health practitioner and
author. She hosts http://www.beauty-and-body.com
and publishes the New Body News and Wellness Letter, The Online
Magazine Healthy People Read. ( http://www.new-body-news.com
) Subscribe for f.r.e.e. and receive her Special Report: "Take
Charge of Your Health!" and check out her latest book: Spiritual
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