Intentional Ritual – Journaling

May 6, 2024

There is POWER in journaling

One of my most treasured rituals is journaling. There was a time however that journaling felt completely overwhelming to me. I admit I have perfectionistic qualities and the thought of having an “imperfect” written journal was just too much for me. I didn’t know what to write or how to set it up so that it looked fantastic. I fretted over someone finding it and heaven forbid reading it… Oh the embarrassment!

However, the fact remained deep down in my heart I yearned to be someone who journaled. I bought several journals every year, I was drawn to them at any store that carried them. I purchased, wrote a couple things, tore the pages out, burned them (again the embarrassment!) then used the rest of the beautiful journal for my grocery lists. I was sad, disappointed and truthfully felt a little shame every singe time. Probably something good to journal about right there, but I digress.

There are profound benefits to journaling

More and more research is surfacing about how journaling is beneficial for our mental, emotional and even our physical health. While I won’t dive into all the studies out there, you can certainly google to your hearts content, I will share the benefits I have experienced in my own personal practice. As always my friends take what resonates and feel free to leave the rest.

Benefit #1 – Calming the Brain and Increased Rest

I began really journaling consistently as part of my grief healing process. As advised by my therapists at the time and also the many personal development books I was devouring. (A favorite: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod) I decided to take a pen to paper and simply let it flow. I found that all the worries and “what ifs” I was constantly thinking about had a place to go. I was able to better process, I was able to let some things go at least for the time being, I was able to clear my mind. This led to better more restful sleep and deeper rest.  An overall amazing health benefit I must say, but that is a subject for another time.

Benefit #2 – Processing Emotions and Physical Health

I completed my first journal cover to cover several years into my journaling practice. I admit I still struggled to stay consistent. I picked it back up again as a way to track my emotional health and as an aid to help me process emotions. Suppressed emotions can wreak havoc on our physical bodies. Sometimes there are emotions buried deep, we may not even be aware of them. I began expressing those emotions in my journal. Sometimes I wrote letters to people or myself, sometimes I simply let the emotions express themselves via the way of words. Soon my physical body felt more energetic, lighter and less tense. My muscles and joints ached less and my flexibility improved.

Benefit #3 – Increased Creativity and Improved Memory

After reading Julie Cameron’s The Artists Way I began the practice of writing morning pages. At this point I had mostly used my journal as a place to process and track, a place to write about my day, what was happening and how I was feeling and process from there. The idea in a nutshell of morning pages is to free write first thing in the morning for 20 minutes or so. Write down every thought and word that comes to mind, it does not have to make any sense at all…I am sure you can imagine how my perfectionist self felt about this! At first it was a major challenge for me and my hand would cramp up every time, it HURT! Over time however I found the process allowed my brain to dump out all the unnecessary thoughts swirling and taking up precious brain space. Which in turn improved my memory and productivity throughout the day. I also noticed my creativity long buried had space to show up again. What a GIFT!

Benefit #4 – Gratitude Gratitude Gratitude

A beautiful bang for your buck, incorporate a gratitude practice with your journaling ritual. Intentionally writing down a few things I am grateful for helps cultivate more JOY in my everyday life. Soon after adding this to my journaling ritual I found myself on the lookout for and noticing those little things that made me smile, made me laugh, made my life more delightful. As the saying goes…”Where attention goes, energy flows”.

Now I have been stuck in the gratitude rut before, you know the one…you write the same stuff down over and over. For example: I am grateful for my home, my family and my friends. Ok that is lovely AND it can also feel just plain BLAH. At least for me it did. I WAS super grateful for those things but also I was in a season of sadness and grief so my gratitude landed a bit flat for me. It didn’t FEEL good so, I would stop the practice altogether.

The truth is a gratitude is EASY when things are going AWESOME! It is a little more difficult when times are challenging. Guess what? I hate to break it to you, when things are challenging that is when a gratitude practice is ESSENTIAL. Let me share a couple little tricks with you so you don’t give up like I did.

Start Small and FEEL it

Pick one little thing that made you smile or delighted you in some way. Now FEEL into that moment, capture the emotion. Notice the smile return or the little skip in your heart. Here is a personal example. I am grateful for the first scent of lilacs in the air this spring.

Lilacs were my mom’s favorite flower, They remind me of her and how every year she would clip the blooms and bring them inside. Our home would fill with that amazing lilac scent and she would sneeze constantly until they were out of season (luckily lilac season is short here). This memory makes me smile, laugh AND fills my heart with delight.

A simple little thing I noticed and then let myself FEEL into allows that energy of gratitude to carry with me throughout the entire day. Which in turn open me up to notice more little things to be grateful for. Writing this down in my journal also allows me to relive it again and again. Welcome to the gratitude cycle.

I am so grateful for my Journaling Ritual.  I hope you feel inspired to pick up a pen and a journal and let some words flow today. No matter how you choose to journal I hope it becomes a part of your intentional ritual practice and you experience some of the many benefits of journaling.  If you need a little help to get started I created some refection questions and journal prompts just for you.  Check them out HERE.

Until next time friends. I cherish you and I am celebrating you!

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Melissa Garcia is the founder of Roots to Wings Collective, a 300-hour certified yoga teacher, and an eternal optimist. Melissa holds space for connection, creativity, and celebration, through movement, meditation, energy work, and intentional rituals. She believes in magic and that there is no such thing as too much glitter!

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Free Journaling Prompts

Journaling is Expansive!

Download here