I was first introduced to the concept of journaling to release inner creativity in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: a Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 10th edition, 2002). In this classic book Cameron referred to journaling as ‘morning pages’, and encouraged struggling artists to commit the early hours of each morning to writing three pages of anything that came to mind without censor. Such an experience, she claimed, would liberate the spirit and unleash one’s creativity.
For me, journaling has always been a way to explore the shadows of one’s mind and bring these aspects into the light – and onto paper – so that they can be examined openly and honestly. By journaling, what hides inside, sooner or later, is brought to the surface so that we can either accept it and integrate it back into ourselves, or reject it and cleanse our mind and body of it.
Within the scope of hypnotherapy, I often encourage others to begin journaling their shadows as part of the healing process. As a client writes out their thoughts and feelings without censor, the unconscious shadows in their mind drift to the surface of the client’s consciousness so that these shadows are identified and their influence in the client’s life recognised.
During this process many clients tell me of their concern at having shadows in their mind. For them, the existence of these shadows suggests they are not “good” people. No one wants to identify hateful, jealous, angry thoughts or feelings in their mind. However, having shadows has nothing to do with being a “good” person. Shadows indicate only the need for healing, and it is by identifying these shadows that true healing can take place. After all, how do we know we need healing if we do not identify any discomfort or pain?
Aside from identifying the need for mental and emotional healing, shadows also disconnect us from our spirit. Our spirit is a natural source of creative energy in our life and the driving force behind being able to manifest into reality our dreams. When the spirit is able to function at its peak we find that our life becomes a wonderful adventure and we attract good fortune with ease. Those that appear to have a charmed life tend to be actively creative beings.
However, when our mind is bogged down with shadows we are unable to tap into our spirit because our vision of it is obscured by these shadows i.e. painful and harmful thoughts and beliefs. As such, our creative energy becomes blocked and we are unable to create the life we want. Instead, we feel helpless, disempowered, and without meaning or purpose.
Think about it this way. Imagine one’s spirit as a portrait. Now, imagine one’s shadows as a red velvet curtain. Now, imagine this red velvet curtain draped upon the portrait so that we are unable to see the portrait. Although we cannot see the portrait we know it is there. After all, what is the purpose of the red velvet curtain if not the obscure and hide something from our sight.
Our shadows, like the red velvet curtain, are designed to obscure our realisation of our spirit and the natural, abundant gifts we possess, by hiding it from view. As long as we divert our attention and energy into trivial matters so that these trivial matters become big and all-consuming, we will never see the spirit in us. In this situation the shadows in our mind grow, and we lose our creative flow.
It is very important to emphasise here that we, as humans, are inherently creative beings. As creative beings we seek only to unify, connect and inspire. Our intent is love, and our essence is the light. When this creative essence within us becomes blocked due to the repression of our creative nature and the denial of our shadows, we become destructive beings that seek only to divide, alienate, and degrade. Our intent is hate, and our essence is the darkness. We can see the result of the shadows of the mind in the world around us.
We all have shadows in our lives, and manifest these shadows in many ways. If we have any problems in our lives, such as poor financial health or toxic relationships with others, we can be assured of the existence of shadows in relation to these matters. After all, if there were no shadows we would have seen the core of the problem immediately and healed it. The inability to heal is lack of awareness – something all those with shadows possess.
You can start journaling your shadows immediately. You don’t need a special journal or pen, or a sacred space in your home to do it. You can just make yourself a cup of tea, settle down in a favourite chair with a pad and pen, and begin to write. There is really only one requirement – you are not interrupted during this process. This is very important because we want our entire focus on journaling our shadows, and not on what others are doing in your immediate environment.
Are you ready to begin? If so, here are 20 questions (in no particular order) you can begin answering now to get this process underway, and to inspire the shadows out of the darkness and into our conscious awareness. Be sure to explain each of your answers – you should have at least one page of thoughts in response to each question. Let’s begin:
- What character trait do you dislike the most in others?
- What character trait do you dislike the most in you?
- Consider someone you dislike. What do you think he or she deserves in life?
- What do you believe you deserve in life?
- A belief you hold passionately is shown to be incorrect or wrong. How do you respond?
- You prove a belief someone you dislike has is incorrect or wrong. How do you respond?
- What is the worst thing a human being can do to another?
- What was the worst thing you did to another person?
- Who would you resent being trapped in an elevator with?
- Who would resent being trapped in an elevator with you?
- Describe the last time you had a destructive thought.
- Describe the last time you hurt another person intentionally or unintentionally.
- Describe the last time you were hurt by another person intentionally or unintentionally.
- If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
- If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
- What do you dislike most about the world?
- What do you dislike most about others?
- What do you dislike most about being you?
- What do others dislike most about you?
- Complete this sentence in relation to one area in your life you are experiencing problems: I would be happier if ______________ but I can’t be happier because of ______________________.
These questions are not designed to make you feel miserable. They are designed to bring the shadows up into the open, and to promote the healing of the mind and body so that we can connect with our spirit and allow the creative force to flow freely into our life. We cannot manifest our dreams if these unconscious shadows rob us of our experience of life by sapping away our energy and focus.
Try journaling your shadows. If you experience insight from this process, please share and help inspire others too!