Man journaling

There’s a wonderful journaling technique called the “Journal Dialogue” that has been utilized by journaling experts such as Ira Progroff and Kathleen Adams. The technique involves having a written dialogue with an issue, subject, emotion, or a person, and you play both parts.

The first time I heard about this technique I was a little hesitant because part of me felt like I would be speaking to myself, which felt odd. I had my doubts about this technique, but luckily a wonderful instructor and a wonderful entrance meditation prior to writing allowed me to rid myself of doubts, prejudices and preconceived notions of what “my writing” should look like.

What I discovered in the process was an amazing tool that gave me insights into myself. So often when we want to dig beneath the surface, simply writing in freehand can be daunting and may let us only write from the surface. The Journal Dialogue helps to connect the dots, look deeper into issues and gain clarity.

How it works

Pick a subject, emotion or person that you may be having an issue with and begin your practice with an entrance meditation by focusing on the topic. By that I mean spending time in silence to think about the topic. When you’re ready, begin writing by asking a question, and what I would recommend is using the word “what” rather than “why.” When you begin the dialogue with a question, you’re prompting your inner self to provide you with an answer. And thus begins the two-way written dialogue. So it’s recommended to time yourself and give yourself at least 25 minutes with this technique with no interruptions. A quiet space, a lit candle and a warm environment helps make this technique easier.

I have turned to the Written Dialogue over and over again whenever I need clarity. So often in interpersonal relationships we make assumptions based on our communications with the people in our life. And in our assumptions, we begin to act in ways that may further sabotage our relationships—be it professional or personal. We may feel hurt, we may feel jealous, we may feel angry—by holding these feelings inside, our behaviours change.

Benefits of Written Dialogue

Having a Written Dialogue with individuals is extremely important to help resolve assumptions, gain insights into our behaviours, and address how to move forward in our relationships.

Another benefit of this journaling technique is that it helps us connect with our body on a deeper level. So often we store so much of our emotions in various parts of our bodies. Stress can manifest illnesses, chronic pain, fatigue and depression—our body is usually the first to exhibit these symptoms. When our body breaks down, we may turn to medication to help fix the problem, but so often we see that our symptoms continue to resurface especially when we’re under stress.

In practice

Dialoguing with various parts of our body is an excellent tool to explore our emotions. For the past several weeks I have been undergoing several work-related challenges. I noticed that I began experiencing stomach-related pain and began wondering what could be causing it, especially because I had never felt like this before. So I decided to have a written dialogue with my stomach.

In my journaling process, I discovered insights that I may not have thought about if I had not written. For example, I realized that I usually associate the solar plexus/stomach area with power/control issues and in this exercise I discovered that the uneasiness was stemming from having a loss of control over events at my workplace.

Although in my conscious mind I was aware that I was experiencing a challenge, writing helped me see the truth and find a healthier way of coping with the situation. I also began the journal writing technique by asking my stomach to name the emotions that I was feeling. And there was a free-flowing writing exercise that followed with a list of emotions that I named and made me come to terms with.

This writing technique can be used with various parts of your body, especially if suffering from chronic pain, such as headaches, knee pain and breathing difficulties. By naming the emotion and writing about it in a non-threatening way you can come up with useful techniques to address your problems.

A wonderful reminder of the powerhouse that exists within us if we allow ourselves to tap into it.

by Anjali Mani

image: man journaling via Shutterstock