The Sweet Practice of Keeping a Journal

The Sweet Practice of Keeping a Journal

When I was a kid my mum made me keep a diary and I hated it. I could never think of anything to write and it was always a chore. I remember ripping a lot of pages out to make it look like I’d filled it quicker. Fast forward twenty (-ish!) years and journaling has become such a part of my daily routine that I can’t imagine life without it. It has changed my life for the better beyond measure. And it would definitely be in my top five tips for improving health (make sure you breathe correctly, meditate daily, take regular cold showers, eat plant-based, and journal) as it’s a must for good mental health.

On a good day my morning routine consists of 60 minutes of breath exercises and meditation. I follow this up with 20 minutes or so of stream of consciousness in my journal. Some days it flows. Some days I have nothing to say. But even on the days when I am less inspired, something good comes from it. I acknowledge how I’m feeling. Or I recognise a negative behaviour pattern. Sometimes I hit on an idea. Or figure out something that isn’t working. Some days I just write a list of things I’d like to do.

One of the most damaging things we do for our health is suppress our feelings. There is so much pressure in our society to be positive all the time and not express any so-called “negative emotions”. I agree that mind-set is key but a positive mind-set shouldn’t come at the expense of anger, fear, grief, insecurity and so on. Our so-called “negative” emotions are signals from our body and subconscious that all is not well. They need to be acknowledged and not just pushed aside.

Keeping a journal can be a really good way to acknowledge your emotions and work through them. You’ll recognise patterns, triggers, habitual ways of thinking and genuine problems that you can change. Having it in black and white brings it to the attention of your conscious mind. And as they say, if you can feel it, you can heal it.

Aside from the deeper stuff, a journal lets your creative mind flow. I’ve found it’s unwrapped ideas, helped me realise what’s important to me, and develop a plan of action. When I feel lost it, it helps me find my way. It helps link things that seem really disparate, And occasionally it’s as though something higher than me takes the pen and things unfold on the page that take me by surprise.

I think that more than anything else I value keeping a journal because it has helped me order my thoughts and plans. I’m not someone with an ordered mind. I feel much more comfortable in chaos. So for me the chance to unleash chaotic thoughts on a page has been a wonderful tool. In giving form to chaos, order comes organically. It’s my attempt at a to-do list and it really suits me.

So give it a go. It’s a wonderful companion to meditation when you are more open to your higher intelligence and creativity. Or first thing in the morning when your thoughts are refreshed. Try to do it every day or at least 4-5 times a week. Make it a habit. Even when you don’t feel like it, try to write 2 pages of whatever. It will pay dividends in the long run. “Know yourself and the world is yours” is the saying that underpins Babacool. What better way to do that than by keeping a journal?