What is the most useful journaling exercise?

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ertyu
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What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ertyu »

I appear to have come into the possession of quite a lot of writing paper (it was part of the hoarder stash of the previous owner of my place). Which made me think of the best way to use it.

Is there a journaling exercise you thought was interesting that you read about? Did you do a journaling exercise that was particularly useful to you and resulted in valuable insight? Any recommendations? Given that I have come into a lot of writing paper, I have decided to commit about an hour a day for the next 6 months (or until it is time to leave my country of origin to go earn cash again). What do you recommend?

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figmenter
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by figmenter »

I have been doing daily morning pages for almost three years now. It's a practice I picked up from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. It involves writing three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness early in the morning. I typically write just after waking up in the morning.

I rarely read my writings back. It's not necessary. The act of writing is a meditation. It helps me get below the froth of daily life and in touch with the things that really matter to me.

This video helped me get more clarity on the whole process.

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »

a lot of paper? live in a tallish building?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KqjRPV9_PY

you could combine these with exquisite corpses and see what happens in the neighborhood :D

anyway, re:journaling, many years ago i used to do "morning pages" from that artist way method. i wrote like a maniac every morning but i can't say that it was good. all i'd accomplish was to rattle the noise in my head instead of getting beyond it.

--

eta: one form of journaling i've found helpful, though i don't do it always or in writing, is to list things one is grateful for before zzzzzzz at night

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Bullet journals are a thing. I don't know anything about them other than they seem really complicated and designed to get you to buy expensive pens, ink, and notebooks using amazon links. :lol: Just being cynical, something to look into, especially if you are the arts/crafts type.

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 9:33 am
Bullet journals are a thing. I don't know anything about them other than they seem really complicated and designed to get you to buy expensive pens, ink, and notebooks using amazon links. :lol: Just being cynical, something to look into, especially if you are the arts/crafts type.
i used to think that, but then talked to @nunc fluens, who keeps one.

turns out at its core it's just.... checkists :lol: (@nunc fluens does no decoratin', makes very minimalist pages, i've witnessed)

ertyu
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ertyu »

The original creator of the bullet journal is an adhd dude whose system is fairly uncomplicated. He has a popular youtube video which explains his method (will not link it here bc it's one of the top in the genre and easily searched for). He keeps literal, plain lists. He is explicit about making the point that frills are optional. I think he likes it that people have found a way to enjoy his method, but also comes across a bit sad at how the artsy-craftsy youtube videos have lead people to believe that bullet journaling is about the fancy pens and pretty lettering as this seems to alienate many people who would otherwise benefit from employing his method of staying organized.

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Dream of Freedom »

I don't know if you would call it journaling but I sometimes make a list of 5 things to start doing and 5 things to stop doing. It seems to work for most small things. Less well with big items. It's still worth doing in my opinion.

Of course written goals are a good exercise too.

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »

so u no like paper planes? :D

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »


ertyu
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ertyu »

Lol Alphaville all like, fuck journaling, life is short, make paper shapes :lol:.

@figmenter, I watched the video and did 3 morning pages today and had a more productive day than normal. So far, this is not a causal connection: it's possible i could get myself to do the 3 pages bc it was going to be a relatively good depression day to start with. But I will keep with the exercise.

@DoF, what sort of thing is "small" for this purpose? Is "brush my teeth regularly" big or small for instance. What sorts of things are a good example to include in your type of list?

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Dream of Freedom
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Dream of Freedom »

Well I usually try to tie it to another event to act as a trigger. It's not always possible, but it's a built-in reminder to do it when you can.

It wouldn't be a place for say: stop facebook addiction, start running a mile a day, start applying for work, start renovation. Those type of things require dedicated and sustained effort. They are goals not minor habits. An example would be something like this:

Start:

1 Brushing my teeth after morning piss
2 wearing safety glasses when working in the garage
3 drinking water before dinner
4 putting my keys on the hook when I get home
5 listening to downloaded lectures

Stop:

1 turning on the computer as soon as I get home
2 sleeping with the light on
3 listening to podcasts so loud
4 eating by the computer
5 dragging my feet

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:59 am
Lol Alphaville all like, fuck journaling, life is short, make paper shapes :lol:.
:lol: 🍻

(in all seriousness, i did morning pages for years, but those proved somewhat of a double edged sword. therefore i prefer paper planes these days. and windmills. and ships. honest truth. i could expand upon request, but won't spam thread otherwise).

7Wannabe5
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

I recommend a Scavenger Walk Journal. Each day you start at your front door with the intention to walk in high environmental observation mode until you successfully scavenge some number of valuable items (maybe 13.) These items can be material or information and ideas. For instance:

1) Notice on apartment bulletin board about upcoming tenant’s meeting.
2) Weed in planter. Identified as edible thistle.
3) Wool sweater in dumpster.
4) New neighbor moving in on block. Introduced myself. Her name is Francine.
5) 10 cents deposit can.
6) Mulberries.
...

But one core rule of scavenging for a hobby is that you can’t allow yourself to become a dirty hoarder, so in addition to journaling your finds and other notes on your experience that day, you have to write about your plans for processing your finds and add those plans to your calendar if you can’t process right away. For instance, you will bake a cake with the mulberries and you will do it tomorrow, and you wash the wool sweater right away and you put the tenant’s meeting on your calendar too.

I think this is a good practice for frugal people who need exercise and help with mindfulness, like me, because the more you space out, the longer you will walk, but the thrill of the find will encourage both behaviors and constitutes better than cheap entertainment.

ertyu
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ertyu »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:50 pm
(in all seriousness, i did morning pages for years, but those proved somewhat of a double edged sword. therefore i prefer paper planes these days. and windmills. and ships. honest truth. i could expand upon request, but won't spam thread otherwise).
I guess every exercise has its time. Navel-gazing is useful up to a point and then becomes superfluous. What did you find were some potential pitfalls?

@DoF: thank you, these were very good examples. I understand now. I will finish the 3 morning pages with this.

@7w5: I like the scavenger walk idea even separate from the journaling. Thanks!

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Alphaville
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 2:18 pm
I guess every exercise has its time. Navel-gazing is useful up to a point and then becomes superfluous. What did you find were some potential pitfalls?
ok so the morning pages come from the (neo? quasi?)-jungian new age author of the artist way.

assuming a quasi jungian model of the mind, let's say

conscious (what you know you're thinking)
--
subconscious (what you don't know you're thinking)
--
unconscious (the silence beyond the noise)

the morning pages let you reach into your subconscious and find out what you're thinking. so that maybe you can begin to hear the unconscious beneath instead of that layer of chatter chatter chatter.

you give it your attention for 45 minutes or whatever, then it leaves your mind clear. in a way it's like throwing a loaf of bread to the dragon so it leaves you alone. or like having a bowel movement and leaves you feeling clean and light hahaha.

anyway, the problem for me is that eventually the dragon wants more damn bread! because it's one thing to observe a thought and then let it go as in meditation. it's another thing altogether to fuel and reinforce a random thought by writing it.

so after some years instead of "more unconscious" i started getting "more subconscious". more stupid, noisy, greedy, disturbing, childish, automatic, repetitive, selfish, obsessive shit. i was reinforcing the chatterbox instead of leaving it behind.

Image

i suppose i could have looked at it instead and said: "oh, look at this, a sign of trouble" much like a lab technician examines a fecal sample for parasites. yes i could have done that. but at that point instead i was looking at my automatic unfiltered repetitions as... "the truth" or something. the morning pages followed me all day. imagine walking around with your specimen jar.

these days i am highly aware of the subconscious rattling in my head. but also, i prefer to quell it instead of giving it wings. if i can access the silence directly, i just access the silence. the gatekeeping dragon can go fuck himself and will receive no alms/tribute/bribes from me :lol:

so yes, for me the morning pages can show you the subconscious, but they can also keep you stuck there. tread carefully?

ellarose24
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ellarose24 »

I second The Artist's Way. It may be coincidence, but doing the artist's way brought about one of the most creative and peaceful times in my life. I imagine some on this forum, especially men, may feel it is a bit woo--lots of talk about "higher power" (I think the author may be an alcoholic) and mantras etc. But most of the exercises are almost therapy for people who haven't done therapy--and in fact, I found the experience much more gratifying and productive than years of therapy I've had after.

To the above, that is extremely interesting--perhaps because I am so unaware of my subconscious it spills out into my life quite frequently without me knowing it. The morning pages are more of a dump site and a container. I imagine a large noodle in my head that's tangled around my neural pathways and making it's way into my chest, and the morning pages are like pulling it through my ear, looping it around my pencil, and weaving it onto the page so it stops messing with everything else in my head.

ertyu
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ertyu »

After studying various forms of solution focused therapy, I have arrived at the following as the answer to this question at this point:

1. Choose an area or issue to work on.

2. Miraculously, the problem disappears. What would be my mental attitude towards this area of my life if I didn't have this problem? (Some types of therapy have one first list their current dysfunctional attitudes on one side of a piece of paper and have you then reframe them on the other (CBT). Some forms of therapy, such as Brief Solution-Focused Therapy, skip delving into the problem in its entirety and insist one should directly jump into fleshing out the characteristics of one's desired end state in as much detail as possible. This includes answering questions like: How would you feel about/relate to/what attitude and beliefs would you have about this aspect of the problem? How about that aspect? How would your day go once the problem is gone? How would you be in your relationships with Persons A, B, or C, what would you be saying to them, with what attitude/tone? What would they be saying to you? What mental state do you imagine yourself to be in at X time of the day / while performing Y task? etc.)

3. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is you embodying the image in 2 fully and completely and 1 is you don't embody it at all, where are you now?

4. What makes it not an n-1? (What makes it not one level lower?)

5. Imagine you were to jump to n+1 (or, if problem is particularly overwhelming, to n + 0.25 or n + 0.5). What would that look like? What would be different?

What I found interesting about this approach is that it does not focus on, or aim to produce, a list of actions or steps to a goal. Instead, it aims at envisioning as complete a picture as possible of one's desired attitude and state of mind. The theory is that once the correct state of mind is in place, the steps would take care of themselves. This tracks with how I work as a person. I can make to-do lists until the cows come home, but if I feel heavy, despondent, or discouraged, the to-do lists aren't going to happen.

I haven't put this in place yet so can't report any results but I imagine it would be a useful first step, at least for me.

ellarose24
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by ellarose24 »

I assume states of mind, values, etc change and not just in people with mood disorders—depending on stress and other life circumstances? For instance, in the aftermath of the death of a loved one, when you lose a job (and are not yet close to ERE), divorce or break ups, or even just regular old daily stress?

I say this because having these vision-applied goals of “me being exactly who I want” becomes almost dissociative fantasy. I know my situation is vastly different than yours, but I do believe habit and routine are absolutely necessary for when you spin off the road due to whatever reason.

Or perhaps it’s my addictive nature. For instance, my dream person is someone who lives by her values and those values are self sufficiency, personal morality, and self discipline. However, if my partner offers to take me out for a steak dinner which is against my personal morality (eating meat) and self discipline (drinking wine) as well as spending ridiculous money (not very self sufficient)after an extremely long work week compounded by personal stress I am much more likely to say yes than if I slowly practice these habits starting with maybe, don’t eat red meat for a month, then don’t drink wine, then no going out to eat.

However, it seems Jacob advocates for complete and extreme change and so there’s evidence it works. I guess the real answer is that there is not a right solution for any one person—just lots of trying and failing and sometimes getting it right.

Frita
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Frita »

Here is an interesting podcast relevant to this thread:[/url]https://hiddenbrain.org/podcast/the-sto ... -life/[url]

I typically try to think of others’ points-of-views and influencing factors. It seems that diving deeper into writing a narrative as well as an alternate ending is cathartic. Kind of like the release some people feel at the end of “Atonement.”

Campitor
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Re: What is the most useful journaling exercise?

Post by Campitor »

Journaling on artistic steroids: http://josenaranja.blogspot.com/

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