Journal writing is like a 6th sense, a value-adding tool for perception that allows us to experience and know ourselves and our surroundings. Journaling is a reaction to what is happening, both inside and out.
Depending on where your focus lies, your journal will reflect that. As long as you’re focused, you can journal easily and endlessly.
But one of the miracles of journaling is that it can also serve us very well when we are not focused.
Feeling foggy, confused, not sure what’s on your mind? Are you unmotivated, or uninspired? Those moments of vague ennui can be the times when you least feel like journaling, or doing anything else, for that matter.
So here’s a favorite solution: randomly pick a focus! Your resistance to action comes from a lack of attention. When you zero in on a focal point, it’s ironically like opening the floodgates.
One of the best places to look for focus is in your music collection. Counter-intuitive though it may be to seek focus in the complexities (and dreaminess!) of music, the medium can be extremely helpful. Here’s how.
1. Contrive somehow to pick a song at random. Put your iTunes or MP3 player on shuffle and take the first song that comes on. Or flip through a stack of CDs or records with your eyes closed, pull one out, and select a song from it.
2. Listen to the song a few times in its entirety. Look up the lyrics and read them over while listening to the song, until you feel well-acquainted with it. Notice any words or sentences that stand out to you. Jot them down as you go. Also notice your bodily reactions to hearing the music, and make notes about them.
3. In your journal, begin with the words you wrote down while listening to the song. Why did these particular lyrics or sounds have an effect on you? What kind of effect did they have? Do you relate to the message or the story or the theme of the song? Does your body have information for you when you study how it responds to the music? Write down anything that comes to mind.
4. Now focus on the song as a whole. Do you remember when it was first performed, or when you heard it originally? Were you graduating from high school or starting your first job or quitting your job, or driving cross country, or relaxing on vacation? Write the memories you have with this song—starting with who, what, where, when and why. What emotions – new and remembered – does the song bring to the surface?
5. Your feelings toward your selected song may have changed over the years. In the context of your recent experiences and your current state of mind, how has your opinion of the song changed? Now that you are older and wiser, do you view things differently?
When you’ve completed these steps, put your pen down, stash your journal carefully, and revel in your sharpened perceptions, uplifted spirit, and renewed energy!
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