Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
Journaling or Journal Writing is flow writing or stream of consciousness. Journaling or journal writing has been shown by Pennebaker to enhance the immune system and enhance physical function. Pennebaker asked his study participants to write about traumatic events for brief periods over consecutive days. He's studied HIV patients, laid-off executives, college students and people diagnosed with arthritis.
Journal writing flows from the connection between the responding mind and the writing and back again. Thoughts tumble onto the page with judgment is set aside. Journal writing can allow you to reclaim parts of yourself that have been denied or discarded. Being able to perceive parts of yourself you are not yet comfortable to reveal to others is a necessary part of growth and wholeness.
The technique of journal writing was primarily developed by Progoff in his 1975 book, AT A JOURNAL WORKSHOP. While studying the life development of creative persons, he noted that there are successive cycles of self that can be identified, and the inner continuity of the transitions can be seen. Creative persons tend to experience their lives in terms of active and multiple mini-processes, rather than as static events. From this knowledge, he developed the Intensive Journal designed to provide an instrument and techniques for discovering resources people do not know the possess.
By discovering your inner resources through journaling or journal writing, the inner thread of life can assist you to self-integration and wholeness. Life experiences such as despair, hope, anger, crisis, crossroads, failure and success take on added purpose. Such an examination can help lead you to the recognition that it is your inner relationships to outer events that is important.
Journaling or journal writing is especially useful at times when you are at a crossroad point or transition in your life or when a decision is to be made.
Here are the steps that Progoff suggests for journal writing or journaling:
1. Remain silent and center yourself on the activity prior to writing. Breathing is slow and deep.
2. Hold a relaxed attitude of letting your inner processes take charge (passive receptivity).
3. Date your journal.
4. Write down what occurs to you using a nonjudgmental attitude.
5. After you've recorded an event, silently read what was recorded. Add additional material, but never comments that judge what was recorded.
6. Read aloud to yourself or in the presence of a journaling group as a feedback mechanism.
7. Entries may be read into a cassette recorder and played back as an additional form of feedback and clarification.
To get you started, here is a journaling exercise I developed called Me-To-You. It can aid your understanding and integration of a relationship with a significant other person.
The person I wish to conduct a dialogue with is:
The essence of my relationship with him/her is:
Things that have been positive about the relationship are:
Things that have been negative about the relationship are:
We have passed through the following phases in our relationship:
I am avoiding (or have avoided) saying the following things to him/her:
My hopes, fears, resentments and thoughts about the relationship are:
When I read what I wrote, my feelings and reactions are:
Things I know that make him/her more of a person to me are:
If I were to speak with him/her now, the dialogue would proceed in the following way:
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