What’s on your mind? Let’s lighten your load!

Have you ever spent the day worrying, or do you lie awake at night trying to solve problems?  Do you get up in the morning cursing the neighbour who mows early on a Sunday, the rain, and the noisy dog next door?  Do you sit down, watch the news and complain about politicians, no-hopers, breakfast show hosts and the ads on TV? 

What do you fill your mind with?  Frustrations, irritations, fears?  Where do you place your attention?  Dr Wayne Dyer explains ‘You can’t give away what you don’t have.’

“This concept is simplified by a description of squeezing an orange.  When you squeeze an orange, you’ll always get orange juice to come out.  This is true regardless of who does the squeezing, what time of day you squeeze, what instrument you use to squeeze, or what circumstances surround the orange-squeezing.  What comes out is what’s inside.  The same logic applies to you.

When someone squeezes you, in some way puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical; and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, it’s because that is what’s inside.  You can’t give away what you don’t have because you’re always giving what you do have.’1

The first step towards inner peace is gaining awareness of our thoughts. But how?

I was persuaded to give Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ a try after people from all walks of life credited the exercise with helping them find purpose and creativity, emotional intelligence and inner peace (!)  The ‘morning pages’ are three pages of longhand writing: stream-of-consciousness style.  Basically, sit and write whatever you are thinking for three pages, or if you can’t think of anything write that you have nothing to say.  “I need to buy eggs.  I have an important meeting today.  My parents are looking frail.  Blah, blah, blah…”  Cameron refers to the morning pages as ‘brain drain’ since one of their main functions is to rid the mind of clutter.2 

Whilst the morning pages seemed too good to be true, research has shown the act of journaling has numerous psychological and emotional benefits.3 Although I didn’t relish the thought of writing, I found a notebook and commenced.  Eventually I modified the exercise to a style of journaling that suits me.  I write at least one page and beside me, I keep a ‘to do’ list for the day.  I find that whilst writing, thoughts keep popping into my head about the day’s tasks and I randomly remember things I need to attend to.  The ‘to do’ list allows me to jot things down for later in the day. 

Astoundingly, by the end of the first week I felt the benefits of journaling.  I was much more aware of my thoughts and feelings, and the issues in my life seemed less overwhelming.  Some days the exercise feels like a waste of time-except for the to do list.  Other days it is like having a trusted, comforting, supportive friend listening to me offload my uncensored thoughts – without trying to fix the problem or me. 

Another benefit is that when you clarify issues enough to write them down, they miraculously progress.  It is also cathartic in the sense that once things are written down you can get on with your day without devoting further thought to those issues.  It turns out that journaling is a relatively easy way to get in touch with your thoughts. 

  1. Dyer, Wayne Dr, 2001, 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, Hay House, China
  2. Cameron, Julia, 1992, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, Penguin Books Ltd, New York
  3. 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety, and Stress, Courtney E Ackerman, 1/9/2020 https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/

The Path to Inner Peace

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