BY TERRY SEGAL / AJT //
On November 3, we welcome the month of Kislev and an exploration of Enchanted Key number three – Journaling.
Back in the day, it was popular for girls to have diaries with crummy little locks and gold keys that kept no one’s prying eyes away from those intimate reflections of secret crushes and broken house rules.
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Diary musings were often viewed as meaningless fluff until the world read what Anne Frank wrote in the diary she was given on her 13th birthday.
For two years and two months, she chronicled the experiences she had with her family while hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. What insight into the human spirit she left as a legacy to us all.
Today, journals are made for both men and women to enjoy the art and practice of journaling. It’s used for healing, as a tool for introspection, and many schools include journal writing as a means to develop oral language and speaking skills.
Teachers report that journaling focuses students and allows for free creative expression, during “safe writing,” which is without correction of grammar, punctuation and spelling. The use of shared journals can deepen relationships between teachers and their students.
A woman I know began a journal with her teenaged daughter. They passed the book back and forth daily, resulting in an appreciation and respect for the others’ feelings and struggles. Yet most journaling is done solo, often as a way to relieve stress or work through emotions. Doodling and art can craft a journal without words.
One of our Journey Guides, Julia Cameron, prolific writer, teacher and author of “The Artist’s Way,” and other books, states that, “Journaling lowers stress, alters our brain hemispheres, allows discovery of an inner contact with a creative source and gives birth to imaginative insights.”
She developed Morning Pages – three longhand, stream-of-consciousness pages, written upon awakening each morning. I can attest to the “Dragon-clearing” benefits of journaling this way. Journaling at night brings the focus to the forefront prior to sleep and is counterintuitive for a good night’s rest.
Before your feet hit the ground in the morning, you get to clear the path of conversations in your head, unfinished business, and resentments, while also inventing fresh, new possibilities for your life.
Fifteen minutes of journaling each morning is all you need; but consider that and listen to the myriad of excuses your “Dragons” present to prevent you from doing it.
Not only does journaling unblock mental and emotional clutter, but also continually points you in the direction of your “true north,” as Cameron calls it. Both your conscious and unconscious dreams and desires appear on the pages, again and again.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to journaling, regarding hand written vs. computer. I support you in journaling any way you would like. Beware of what I have termed the “Ed Norton Syndrome.”
It’s not a real malady, but just as Ed used to prepare to write and then would adjust his arms and flex his wrists, you can get hung up on the choices of journals, pens, and locations in which to write, and never actually get to the enchantment of putting pen to paper. Don’t overthink. Take action.
Kislev is a perfect time of year to begin journaling, when our goal is to bring light to the darkness. I’ve already heard others anticipating the stress of this year’s unique coinciding of Chanukah with Thanksgiving. Consider relieving stress about the preparations that overlap these two holidays by writing your thoughts, feelings and solutions on the page.
I just learned about The Jewish Writing Project. It offers a place to share with others through the written word, our experience of being Jewish. Perhaps you’d like to journal about that and share it with others.
Dragon journal pages can contain all of the negative chatter and stress that taxes your energy and spirit. Release that and then create gratitude pages alongside. Jot down everything for which you are grateful.
According to the Sefer Yetzirah, Kislev’s guiding part of the body is the belly, so enjoy your latkes with your turkey and your sufganiyot next to your pumpkin pie but let more than your belly feel full; journal to make this a time of spiritual contentment. That will be an enduring gift you give yourself and others.
The sages state, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.” Allow yourself to focus on your gratitude for everything you have, even those things that seem to appear “negative,” because likely, you can learn from them or grow in some way.
After you meditate on this, write down what occurs to you. Continue this practice through the month of Kislev and discover what possibilities for miracles and light you can create for yourself and for the world.
About the writer
Dr. Terry Segal is a licensed marriage & family therapist, Ph.D. in energy medicine, hypnotherapist and author of “The Enchanted Journey: Finding the Key that Unlocks You.”