Meditation is a path to understanding thoughts that simply appear in consciousness — Journaling prompts thoughts in our subconscious to rise into view. Both are important lines of query for self-awareness.
The Subconscious Reservoir
Self-awareness emerges from meditation through a process of contemplation and inquiry. Using Mindfulness of Breath or a guided practice, we calm our minds and direct our attention inwards with an intention to understand our purpose, values, desires and aversions — and as thoughts, emotions and feelings appear, we examine them with curiosity, self-compassion and equanimity.
But meditation can only observe what rises into consciousness. We don’t have the faculty to dive into the reservoir of memory and sensation buried in the subconscious, and so it remains for the most part, unseen and unexamined — and yet, it’s the source, and often most powerful driver of our beliefs and behaviors.
Journaling for Self-Awareness
Journaling is a meditative practice that surfaces subconscious insights. The mind works continuously, 24/7 — regulating bodily systems, processing interior dialogue, solving background problems and making sense of stimuli. This creates the conditions for moving towards and achieving our goals.
What happens on the subconscious level shapes our relationship to events in the conscious world — in fact, it’s said that “the subconscious will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available”.
The process of journaling is a tap into our inner world — where we conceive creative ideas, see patterns, and unlock answers hidden just below the surface. It prompts unexamined thoughts and emotions into our consciousness, so that we can see them with dispassion, understand them rationally, and reflect on their relationship to our purpose and values.
How it Works:
Journaling for self-awareness is a simple process. We start with a question, or sequence of questions that prompt us towards an area of inquiry that we want to explore. Here are a handful of suggestions aimed at various facets of self-awareness:
(1) What are my most important core beliefs?
(2) What do I value most in my life?
(3) What am I doing when I’m feeling happiest?
(4) What are my greatest fears and why?
(5) What would I like to change at home?
(6) What would I like to change at work?
(7) What would I like to change in my relationships?
(8) What would I like to accomplish in the next 5 years?
(9) What’s top of mind for me right now?
To start, be calm and take a few relaxing breaths. Then begin to think about a single prompt and begin to write… Budget in at least 5 to 10 minutes for the exercise if you can. You can journal on one prompt, or toggle to several.
We’re Writing for Ourselves
With journaling, we’re not communicating our thoughts to others — we’re surfacing them, recording what comes up and all of the memories, thoughts, emotions, feelings and projections that come up with it. The purpose of the exercise is to encourage our thoughts to flow, and let them flow right onto the paper. We’re opening a channel to our subconscious and recording what comes up in a stream of consciousness.
We’re writing for ourselves, and recording what we think with transparency and honesty. We don’t have to think about what we’re writing — we just write. It doesn’t matter if we stay close to the topic, what’s important is to let the mind go where it wants to go.
What the Pro’s Say
(1) Journaling for self awareness is asking yourself about yourself. Pretty soon you get to know who you really are: your motives, your values, the way you think and the way you feel. When you put it on paper, you are free to see it – embrace it – discard it – and proceed.
(2) Journaling is a beautiful way to make sense of all the senselessness; to reflect on this world, yourself, and examine the way you are living. When you feel unsteady, journaling gives you an outlet to vent and make change. It becomes a safe place to hold your thoughts, remain present, and face any worries or anxieties. All you have to do is start.
(3) Journaling is the time to confront your thoughts, explore your curiosities, and face your feelings head on. Reflection is such an enormous part of your growth, and when you journal, you get out of your head and become present.
(4) Journaling is the act of tapping into your stream of consciousness – where there is no right or wrong – just find your flow.
(5) Journaling can be meditative writing in the present – Simply asking yourself why you feel a certain way (anger, happiness, frustration, love) can deliver very surprising insights.
(6) Journaling will help you to discover who you are, what you want, and who you really want to be. It will not only highlight the insignificance of the things in life you hold dear, but also how you can allow yourself to release that which does not serve you anymore.
(7) Be honest with yourself in your journal; confront your ugly thoughts, embrace and elaborate all your beautiful hopes and dreams and don’t be afraid of what is written.
(8) Do not censor yourself in your journal. It is the one place you can go to speak freely without any judgement.
(9) Remember that thoughts are not truth – But whether they are beautiful and bright or ugly and dark, seeing them in front of you will help you discover more of who you are and where you need to be.