Writing a journal can be one of the most powerful self-awareness tools there is... but getting started can be daunting!
After extolling the virtues of journalling to clients, and most recently to our new intake of teacher trainees, I decided it was time to put it to paper (so to speak) and share a few starting points.
Step One: Ask yourself, why are you writing a journal?
It can be easy to overcomplicate the process! Certainly at first, without an objective in mind it can be easy to ramble on insipidly, or worse, simply write nothing at all.
Perhaps the main reason to write a journal is self-reflection; maybe purely for relaxation, or perhaps with a specific aim around tracking, or self improvement in mind. The process of getting to know yourself, and your thoughts more clearly.
If you have a target, why not write it down? "I'm using this journal to understand the patterns around my hip pain better", or "I'm using this journal to start tracking my self practice routines." Be explicit. Keep it simple. After all, this isn't being written with the hopes one day of being interesting enough to be recorded as a memoir (well, maybe it is!)... ultimately, its for you to read, for you to streamline your consciousness, and to gain a greater level of self-knowledge.
So what can you write about?
First, write about what you did.
If it is a self practice journal, why not have your journal right by your mat? If its about your day, set some time aside before bed. But first and foremost write down the literal content of your topic. You can be detailed, including times, you can be creative with sketches and multi-coloured pencils, or you can be straightforward and bullet point the lot. Whatever appeals to you and your mind most!
Second, write about how it makes you feel.
There's often not much to be achieved turning things over in your head... especially if they are things that worry, or scare you. Writing things down creates a different kind of solidity to your thoughts, that gives you full power to conceptualise, and re-organise your thoughts. To spot the gaps in your understanding, and the breakdown in your logic.
Finally, write about your intentions.
Perhaps you are contemplating some life changing event, or perhaps, you are just wondering what would be a good pose to work with... But as your intentions clarify and crystallise in your journalling process commit them to paper. It doesn't mean you can't go back and change or extend, modify and re-evaluate. But your evolving intention is in many ways the fruit of your journalling process.
In yoga, the word Sankalpa, can translate as your most heart-felt desire. It is often used interchangeably with the word intention, but infact it moves deeper, and could be tied in more completely with the concept of dharma, or a life's purpose. The practice of intention, is the practice of finding your sankalpa, which you could call your 'ultimate intention' or your purpose. Once you have found your true sankalpa it will always stay with you. The practice of sankalpa then becomes aligning that intention with your action to truly live your dharma.
So there you go... sounds simple enough right?
Grab a fresh book, or open a fresh document, title your first page, "Day One" and enjoy the journey!