A Reliable Path to Clarity

There is a reliable path to clarity. 

When we’re in the middle of big changes and everything feels confusing or stressful or like we’ve lost our way, clarity can be just what we long for and completely out of reach.

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But there is a path. It’s not flashy or cutting edge. It’s not rare or expensive. All you need is willingness, a pen & some paper.

This week’s recommendation is the simple practice of journaling. But simple doesn’t mean insignificant. A regular writing practice can be a light in the darkness, a doorway to our hidden truths. I’ve practiced some form of journaling all my life. Through the years its become a friend, a confidant, and a teacher. 

And yet, for this practice to give us access to truth, to clarity, to the quiet voice that speaks only for us, we do need to follow a few guidelines.

Here are some suggestions to keep in mind as you write.

Notice. Start with just paying attention to what’s present in this moment. If you’re sleepy – write about that. If the sun is casting an interesting shadow across the room – write about that. If you’re troubled & your mind won’t stop racing – write about that. Just observe. Begin.

Go Deeper. What’s underneath your initial noticing? There are layers. Look for the next and the next and the next. Remember, you’re an explorer. See what you can find. Staying content with what’s on the surface can keep you caught in a loop. If the loop is “Wow, I feel great today,” you might not mind that so much. But if the loop is some incessant worry, then looking at the deeper layers is key to better understanding, more choice and deeper peace.

Ask Questions. These are the doorways to the deeper layers. Why is a wonderfully simple question to ask. (Any three-year old could attest to that!) Why do I love this? Why does this bother me? Others I like are: What is this trying to show me? What is this trying to teach me? Has this happened before? How old do I feel? Is there a pattern here? How is this trying to guide me or help me? When we’re lost and things are confusing, curiosity is our best friend.

Be Kind. Don’t demand solutions. Don’t make your questions an inquisition. Avoid berating yourself and judging yourself harshly. Instead, if you notice self-criticism, use it as a signal to be gentle. When we’ve lost our way it doesn’t help to be critical and punitive with ourselves. It can help to remember that this is part of the human path. Everyone struggles. You are not alone.

Offer Comfort. Practice offering yourself compassion. Journaling is about befriending your life. It allows you to Come into a closer relationship with your heart and a deeper understanding of how you are called to live your life. When we really see someone, including ourselves, the natural response is compassion. The reverse is true as well. As we extend comfort to ourselves we make it safe for our deepest longings to show up. Let your writing practice by your safe space and it will reveal the clarity you long for.

Other ideas to help with your writing practice.

Be Messy. This is not a place to worry about penmanship or grammar or punctuation. Scribble. Write outside the lines. Write in big sweeping motions or small print – write in whatever way feels good to you in the moment. This is you exploring & excavating. It’s not for display.

Keep Writing. Just keep your hand in motion. It doesn’t matter if your brain is in gridlock or all that crosses your mind is the list of tasks to do. Just write. The process of moving your hand across the page will create an opening for what needs to show up. And if all that shows up is your to-do list — so what. Now you’ve got your list made!

Be Consistent. As much as you can, make this a daily practice. Write at the same time each day.  But in the beginning, experiment with different times. There’s a case to be made for journaling first thing in the morning, but it’s more important that you write than that you do it at the “right” time. Find the time of day that works for you. And be flexible with yourself. This is discovery & adventure – not regimented control.

Content Doesn’t Matter. Don’t try to manufacture something profound. Some days the words on the page will be rote & mundane. Other days amazing insights will arise. It’s the process of accepting whatever shows up that makes room for the insights. So embrace the mundane – you’ll be amazed at the richness that follows.

Make it mobile. Mix it up. If you usually write at the kitchen table, try sitting at your desk or on your bed. Better yet take your journal outside and sit under a tree. Keep a small notebook with you so you can write on the go – while you’re waiting for a doctor’s appointment, on vacation, in a cab, in an airplane, at the beach. A change in your physical environment will reveal new perspectives in many ways.  

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.”
–  Carl Jung 

It is my sincere wish that this practice will become a true and reliable pathway to your heart!

 

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