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I’m teaching a Visual Journaling Workshop now to a group of recovering adults. Most of them are not artists; have not drawn anything since kindergarten; and have forgotten that just making their signature is making a drawing.
I quote this sentence from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matter, compared to what lies within us. I used to give out a Permission Slip, which allowed my students to make any drawing they wanted to; all “mistakes” were permitted. Maybe I need to continue that practice; some people in this new group are reluctant to step out and experiment with a new way to enhance their written journals and put their right brain to work.
Does your mind harbor demons? Thoughts that roam around saying you can’t write or you can’t visually express your feelings. Do you have trouble being consistent in your journaling or do you have trouble even starting?
The first thing is to draw a image of your demon; what does it look like? What color is it? Or write about it’s countenance and the color of it’s hair. That is something you can do in your journal — face the demon. Do as Ram Dass said,” Invite them in for tea.” Describe them and get to know them and they become like relatives who come to visit once in a while. If you run and hide from them, then they are able to work on your mind and increase your anxiety.
Then, try to journal one word each day. Date your entry and write the one word that describes your current feeling, or that summarizes your whole day if you journal at night. Add one swath of color, the color of your feeling.
Then, after a week, move on to one sentence; and after a week to two sentences and so forth.
And you can always sign up for the weekly newsletter and get word and sentence prompts to write about.
Go Forth and Create.
Define MISTAKE… When you are journaling, whether text or image, remember that one of the benefits of keeping a regular journal is that you can go back and see the progress you’ve made from your earlier journals. Seeing how you’ve grown is important. Speed-sketching is not perfect; you can’t possibly express all of the values in the composition without contemplating and correcting your first impressions. So embrace your mistakes and learn from them. Bud
I’ve had trouble recently when journaling about an interaction with a person because I discovered that I was missing some of the conversation; I really hadn’t listened closely enough. So I started to think about what I was doing that I didn’t hear the words and I realized that my mind was on other things, many other things. I was multi-tasking my mind.
Multi-tasking has become the norm; consider texting while driving. Dangerous and illegal for some but done by many; I guess even punching the “Talk” Button could be construed as texting. Your mind (a single- task machine) is trying to drive the car and run your thumb muscles by switching back and forth; seems like two tasks to me. Cognitive scientists like Dr. David Mayer,(and the law) say that this operation slows down the overall processing and leads to mistakes. But let’s switch our discussion of multi-tasking to another venue.
Two new syndromes, collectively called Absent Presence, are now being studied:
• Continuous Partial Attention (CPA) when you are trying to listen to someone in the office and continue to text (type, email, tweet, etc.);
• Surfer’s Voice when you are on the telephone talking or listening to someone while surfing the Internet via the keyboard or IPad.
We need to return to being a Listening Presence: the singular task of listening – to others, to ourselves, to the feelings in the words and yes, even to the silence between the words.
Stephen Ministers use a SOLAR acronym for listening to others, whether face to face or over the phone, to show others that the S.M. is paying attention to them and also to let the S.M. shut out the “other noise channels”:
• Sit slightly forward
• Maintain an Open, relaxed posture
• Look into the other person’s eyes
• Pay such strict Attention to what the other person is saying that you are able to –
• Reflect what the other person is saying.
For most of us, we consider listening as passive; so, obviously, there is plenty of extra time to do another task. But if you devote your energy to the SOLAR process, especially the last two steps, you may never hear words from a companion in the same way again. Listening to a person over time will reveal fragments, pieces of the puzzle of their life that allows you to appreciate the journey of their life. And listening to them is also a gift to them; every one of us wants to be REALLY heard.
Keeping our ears open for feelings, the stirrings of our heart, is the tough part of listening. The Bible says, “Listen with the eyes of the heart,” but this requires a careful and diligent application of the head. Allowing silence to be part of your listening language will open up space for reflection by both parties: you for time to reflect and the other for time to hear the echo of their words and reflect on them. “Silence is how we nurture our capacity to listen,” says Kay Lindahl, founder of The Listening Center.
When you develop your skills of listening to others, it will become like a language:
“What do I do?” asked the new hospital chaplain,
“You listen,” his supervisor told him.
“But what do I do?”
And then you can transform that language into your journal with assurance that you really have heard the words.
“Whatever it is that you write, putting words on the page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime and it is certainly a productive way to deal with the scars and dark places from our pasts. Self-expression is one way to lay a problem or demon to rest. It’s also a way to bring forth suppressed feelings and fears. It’s a way to bring a sense of resolution and a sense of satisfaction to our lives.” Diana Raab
“… I don’t want to set down a series of bald facts in a diary like most people do, but I want this diary itself to be my friend, and I shall call my friend Kitty. No one will grasp what I’m talking about if I begin my letters to Kitty just out of the blue…” diary of Anne Frank.
Anne wrote all of her journal entries to Kitty, “Dear Miss Kitty”, so she related all of her feelings and happenings in dialogue form; always talking to Kitty. Have you tried that form of journaling? Some people dialogue to a Higher One as they travel along their spiritual journey especially when they choose to be transformed by the renewal of their mind through journaling.
Aristole said, “Without images, thinking is impossible.”
The Journaling Newsletter and this web site will be adding information on incorporating drawings and images to your journal because transforming an abstract notion or feeling => graphic form allows you to SEE the truthful meaning of the words. Words & letters are, after all, only graphic symbols that we draw and we have trained our left brain to interpret them as text. So ADD SOME DOODLES to your journal or find some crayons/pencils and devote the right page of your journal to an image that makes you think of your writing.
“What are morning pages? Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness: “Oh, god, another morning. I have NOTHING to say. I need to wash the curtains. Did I get my laundry yesterday? Blah Blah Blah. They might also more ingloriously, be called brain drain, since that is one of their main functions. There is no wrong way to do morning pages… the morning pages are the primary tool of creative recovery,” from The Artist’s Way says Julia Cameron.
Try them; they’ll work for you, Bud.
Bruce and Stan wrote “God is in The
Small Stuff–and It All Matters”, and they
devoted an entire chapter to “Learn To Write,” quoting from 2
Corinthians 3:2 “Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and
everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.”
They say that most people rarely write and miss out on one of the greatest
forms of communication and self-expression. And, I submit, that applies to most
men who don’t take even-a- little time to document their lives in a Journal.
A Journal, whether pen strokes on paper or
keystrokes on a computer, allows us a safe way to explore topics with
ourselves. They are, in fact, a reflection of our soul on the mirror of life
and as such contain the record of our honest and vulnerable journey with God.
We can record what God’s been doing in our lives and we can spiritually share
ourselves with Him and examine ways for spiritual growth. Journaling is one
important spiritual disciplines to employ to achieve a grace-centered life.
Some more specific types of journals are:
- Logs, a regularly kept record of performance like a ships log
recording navigational details. This factual account of events over time
is usually kept in a format or even in a table for easy examination of
trends and patterns. In summary, a log is a chronological journal, focused
on the recording of a specific category of events of our lives and our
reflections on those events – a temporal ordering that is familiar to us.
- Diaries, “a daily record and a book for keeping private notes
and records” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, are filled with
everything private and personal. They are filled with feelings where logs
are aimed at recording facts. Anything is fair game as a “subject” for an
entry and spontaneous; “free writing” is the method usually employed.
- Journals then, are a “service book…for accounts of daily
events, a record of proceedings and a periodical dealing with current
events,” according to the dictionary. Or they can be thought of as
containing the superset of entries from logs and diaries, but they are more
importantly used to record our innermost personal reflections, thereby
becoming a living document describing our being.
Some of the most common classifications of
- Daily gratitude’s,
- Progress towards goals,
- Past events and doors opened,
- Letters to God or others,
- Dialogue with God,
- Responses to Reading Scripture.
But the one “face” of Journaling not mentioned
above is one that I feel is perhaps the most important, the Personal Goals and
Growth Journal. By writing down your goals, whether daily, weekly, or whatever
and then reflecting on the progress toward achieving those goals; that writing
can be a terrific source of increased inner potential and development. As a
place to sustain our inner personal growth and enhance our professional career,
a journal should never be an end to itself but more like practicing the piano –
the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
Nor should journal keeping become an obligation
or a chore; it is a tool and may fit your “hand” better than some other tools
fit. As May Sarton said in her journal, “Perhaps we write toward what we will
become from where we are.”