I’ve journaled on and off throughout my life from the time I was a teenager, but for the last few years, I’ve been so busy with writing for magazines, my websites and various books that journaling fell off my radar. I recently started a daily journaling practice again, and now I don’t know how I did without it all these years.
Initially, I had planned on completing Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way program. A key part of her program are what she calls Morning Pages. It means writing three pages every day, first thing in the morning. This is meant to be stream-of-consciousness writing, a brain dump, so to speak, and it doesn’t matter what you write as long as you complete the three pages. They are to be written in longhand, not on a computer or an app.
I completed the entire three month-long Artist’s Way program in 1995, and I believe that it was instrumental in helping me make a major career change from a corporate middle-management job that made me miserable every single day to working in veterinary clinics, and eventually managing a clinic for eight years. Since I find myself in somewhat of a transition phase right now, going from working seven days a week for so many years to slowing down a bit, I thought maybe this might be a good time to start the morning pages practice again, just to see whether I might gain any insights into this “third act” of my life.
Cameron insists that these pages need to be done as soon as you wake up. As any cat parent knows, that’s just not going to fly. The first thing we do every morning is feed our cats, right? I also didn’t want to move my meditation practice to later in the morning, so my routine is get up, feed Allegra, meditate (usually with Allegra on my lap,) and then journal.
For the first two months, I wrote three pages every single day. Eventually, I wasn’t quite as strict with myself. Some days, I wrote the full three pages, other days, I wrote less. Occasionally, I wrote more than three pages.
Gradually, I started to see benefits from this new practice. I found that I felt less anxious and worried less. Maybe writing down some of the things I worried about anchored them to the page rather than keeping them swirling around in my mind. I found myself looking forward to my daily journaling time. It made for a more gentle transition between meditating and going to the computer to let the outside world back in by checking email and social media.
I had committed to journaling for three months. I’m almost at that mark, but I already know that I’m going to keep going.
Do you journal? I’d love to hear about your practice.
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