Meditation and Journaling Techniques
Original Painting: Butterfly Blue
A current flows beneath the surface of each of our lives – an inner process working at the depth of us -- carrying the meaning that has been trying to establish itself in our existence. That process doesn't just happen. It requires nurturing, time and thought. A life has a special power when lived in harmony with its meaning, a power that comes from one’s relationship with one’s inner world and inner beauty. Journaling and mediation can both be helpful in that process, and combined they can be particularly powerful. They can help us recognize and explore the patterns beneath the surface of our lives – the connective threads that are otherwise not obvious.
Our relationship with our inner world determines much about how our lives play out and how our work, particularly creative work, manifests. Creativity arises out of our individuality and the deeper levels of our being. This tends to be a two way street – the right work nurtures our inner being, and is nurtured by our inner being. These processes can be enhanced by the combination of journaling and meditation. I know from personal experience that when an artist falls out of harmony with his or her creative work, the relationship with that person’s interior life also deteriorates. Journaling and mediation can help us restore that crucial connection.
If you are like me, sometimes you live in harmony with the deep undercurrent of your life, and sometimes you are out of sync. Journaling about the meaning of the seemingly unconnected events and relationships of your life can provide important insights into the direction the current of your life has been trying to lead you. The techniques briefly outlined here, and explored in depth in the upcoming boxed set, Journal Meditations of a Nature Artist, can allow us to connect with the inner process that will guide us if we will make room for it in our lives.
Sit in quietness. Gently close your eyes. Enter the pleasant darkness. Relax your body in stages, from your feet to the top of your head. Breathe slowly, regularly, steadily slower. Reach into yourself. Quietly, inwardly, feel the direction of your life in whatever form it takes – a sensation, word, image or phrase, or even a tempo or rhythm.
Be receptive; don’t insert conscious logic. Rather than thinking the same thoughts about our life you have always had, the objective is to gain a new perspective, one offered from deeper down.
In addition to the relaxation techniques outlined here, there are a variety of other methods that also can be effective in our efforts to go deep within our lives. These include shamanic practice (drumming), transcendental meditation, Zen meditation and entering the zone between being awake and asleep. They all can be useful.
Through meditation, and then recording the thoughts about our lives that come to us, however incomplete, disorganized and fragmentary, insights and patterns emerge. Record both complete and incomplete thoughts -- images, single words, or even vague, incomplete phrases. Over time, the meaning of these will become clearer and can help us understand how we’ve gotten to where we are today, and what potentials exist going forward.
What do the most profound events of your life, the decisions you made at crucial turning points, the times life offered you profound insights, perhaps spiritual awareness, the times of deep harmony, joy, deep pain, of success, of failure, indicate to you about who you are and the purpose that wants to unfold in your life? What are the underlying patterns, especially those that may not be immediately obvious? What questions do the patterns of your life suggest?
The desire to avoid pain, discomfort, the desire to avoid exploring failure, can be obstacles to effective journaling Journaling is not meant to be used for of self-justification, or for avoiding the issues at the center of your life. We have shells and behaviors that protect us from the often harsh world that surrounds us, but in the process these protective impulses inhibit our growth. Using journaling to justify to ourselves why we avoided crucial decisions rather than dealt with them in a serious way, limits rather than enlarges the possibilities of a human life.
For similar reasons, do not reject images or phrases because they are dark or scary or negative in some other way. Try to avoid judgments like “Great, the images that are coming to me indicate that this next period of my life will be highly successful,” or “That image of my life is encouraging.” What is important is whether or not the event you are writing about, or the image that comes to mind, indicates something important about the development of your life.
In late 2015, I will publish a three-journal boxed set that explores these techniques in depth. The title of this work, Journal Meditations of a Nature Artist, includes:
- Journal Meditations of a Nature Artist (128 pages, including four, two-panel, 16 inch foldouts) full-color throughout. Journal meditations on the beauty and mystery of the natural world -- an expression of gratitude. Publication price $65, pre-publication $60.
- What Is the Private Meaning of Your Life, to You? (96 pages, one color) Journal combined with meditation techniques interspersed with pages for your own journal notes. Publication price $43, pre-publication $35.
- A blank journal of handmade Lokta paper from Nepal, in part to make a small contribution to that country’s efforts to rebuild after the recent devastating earthquake. It is also beautiful paper, and bound in Tibetan cloth. 192 pages. Dark Brown and Black Tibetan cloth journals are also available. Visit here.
These are also available as individual books.
You can pre-order this set, or the individual volumes, at a pre-publication discount here.
These subjects are also explored in our e-newsletter, A Pause for Beauty.