Curled up in my cozy nest with only the glow of the screen illuminating the world before dawn, I write, I read, I understand. The words flow from my fingertips and my mind grasps what was previously unknown.
Mornings are for writing. The darkness, my shroud of secrecy as each thought arises and settles to be considered as worthy to be accepted as my truth, my present and perhaps, my forever.
Six years ago, I had retired a bit early, changing my life rather abruptly and leaving me with a feeling of disorientation that I couldn’t quite shake. I wasn’t sure what to do next and felt a distinctive sense of loss of purpose and connection.
I couldn’t accept the prospect of idle time and an idle mind, but I lacked inspiration. However, I noticed as I wrote to a friend about my angst, I found some clarity in reading my own words. So I decided my best approach was to write.
I wasn’t sleeping well, so I rose every morning long before the sunrise and began writing whatever was on my mind at that moment. Little by little, I opened up and what I needed to know was revealed. It was a wonderful process and resulted in my discovery that writing is indeed my true vocation. I didn’t know it at the time, but what I was doing is sometimes termed intuitive journaling.
If you wish to try intuitive journaling, here are a few insights to get you started and put you on the path to personal discovery.
Many women journal as part of their daily lives, they record vacation memories, special occasions and the happenings of their everyday life. It’s rewarding and a wonderful gift to yourself or your family that can be read in the future to relive the memories.
But intuitive journaling is different. Intuitive journaling is a way to sink deeper below the surface, beyond the experiences into how we feel about what is happening and into the significance of why we live as we do.
It can also be a return to past experiences that may be left unresolved to gain answers, insights and a way to finish what was left open ended. The act of sitting down with an open mind and a blank screen gives our mind carte blanche to present what otherwise might never be unearthed.
This is one of those things that happens when you are open, but not necessarily on demand. Unlike telling a story or recounting history, this type of journaling takes time and a gentle determination. You must sit down with a willingness to just write what comes up.
It may not make sense or even be a cohesive product. That doesn’t matter. The goal is to pry open the passageways to your inner self and let the wisdom hidden there surface.
But unfortunately, it doesn’t always come clearly marked as such. It may present as a mishmash of spontaneous utterances filled with discontent, frustration and mystery as to why and how to find the source. But that’s part of the process.
Keep writing and don’t edit until you’re done for the day. And don’t delete anything! Often those are the nuggets that lead you to deeper revelation. Keep everything you write and keep going.
For me, that means waking up hours before the dawn, when the world is mine, uninterrupted and silent. There is something about writing in the dark that allows me to be more honest than in the bright light of day.
Choose a convenient time when you can devote at least an hour to your practice and keep it sacred. Make journaling a priority, something you do for yourself and protect the time as yours.
There is something about the familiarity of sitting in the same place that allows you to slip back into where you left off. The only requirement is that it be private, quiet and completely yours. I sit on a comfy couch, in a window facing the eastern horizon, so I can watch the sunrise.
I always wrap myself in the same old cotton blanket as my tactile signal that it’s time to let the world around me go and sink into my own thoughts. In time, you will notice how easily you slip into the intimacy of your mind and how easily the words begin to flow.
You may be tempted to share your words with others, but I would encourage you to hold them as private. By promising complete confidentiality, you may find you write much more personally, unedited by your discomfort.
After years of writing every day, there are still volumes of work that will never be sent out into the world. But those are also the pieces I revisit when I feel the need to cogitate emotions that show up, triggered by old habits and past situations.
There are many good books on Intuitive Journaling that might help you kick start your process. The following is an excerpt from a workbook I’m developing to accompany my essays on my blog, The Years Beyond Youth. You might find them helpful.
- What is your secret desire?
- What is the one thing you wish you had pursued that you didn’t?
- What is the one thing you gave up that you wish you had continued?
- If the stars lined up just right, would you do it now?
- If the answer is no, why not?
- Think about that reason and examine it thoroughly. Is it truly valid, or does it come from fear, misconception, pride or any other judgement that you are putting in your own way?
- Spend a few minutes imagining yourself doing it. See how you look, feel what it would be like to have other people see you doing it.
- What comes up?
- Anxiety because you don’t know if you will succeed?
- A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction to finally do what you’ve always wanted?
- A feeling of guilt for finally giving yourself what you want over all else and all others?
- Examine the emotions and decide if they belong and if you want what they offer or if they are roadblocks on your path to progress.
Intuitive journaling isn’t for everyone. But you won’t know until you try. If you are curious, or if you feel there may be undiscovered wisdom and resolution awaiting you within the private recesses of your own mind, I encourage you to sit down, let your mind wander and see what happens.
Do you journal? Have you tried intuitive journaling? Do you think you may discover something about yourself that you haven’t previously voiced?