Author Topic: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?  (Read 1234 times)

polishedbrass

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To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« on: October 26, 2016, 01:40:23 PM »
I was wondering this because by writing something down you are again 'narrating' your life and always within the confines of limited perspectives.
Should one write or should one just meditate?

An example:
I have bad feelings and associated thoughts about a situation that involves another person. I sometimes just sit and observe the feelings for a while and then commence to 'write myself' out of the perspective that my mind is making up associated with the feelings to put a wholly different light on things, not to deny the other perspective or push away feelings, but to allow myself to see things in a way more positive and open perspective. Ex. seeing a conflict I had as 'not a bad thing' because things were spoken out and maybe some healing or growth even occurred on both sides.

I also wonder what the place is of positive thinking in general. I know neuro plasticity makes positive thinking into a very wholesome practice. Just thinking about things you're grateful for everyday for example. But say I've woken up feeling depressed and tense. I sit down to meditate for 45 minutes and this has not "resolved" the depression but I have been able to sit with the feelings for a long time without reacting to them or at least noticing all the reactions and gently correcting myself to allow everything to be and reestablish concentration on my anchor. But afterwards I am still feeling depressed. Is it bad to now start doing some positive affirmations or would that be 'non-acceptance' and should I just continue doing my usual things while staying mindful of my feelings?

I was just wondering if these things get in the way of the deconditioning that one engages in through meditation.


Matthew

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2016, 09:38:39 PM »
In meditation one is both de-conditioning and conditioning aspects of self. The Brahma Viharas are a good example of this: the development of these positive states utilises neuro-plasticity to conditions the mind towards positive, kind, compassionate and grateful modes of being.

A good guide is to ask "Does this aid mindfulness? Does this aid wholesome states of mind?". If the answer to either is yes then your good to go. As with everything the answer can change as you change ... something that aids wholesome states at a certain point might not aid mindfulness further down the path.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Dharmic Tui

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2016, 07:09:37 AM »
I used to want to frantically write out any insights I had, in the hopes they'd be a cheat sheet the next time I was feeling low. While they can be a good pointer, ultimately this is a thing about how to be, rather than something you automatically receive after following some instructions.

Regarding positive thinking, I think this can be beneficial. Alongside abandoning wanting, fear, etc you should be cultivating greater appreciation, generosity, etc. Like above, it is one thing you label yourself as being good, it is another thing entirely to be good, consistently.

playground

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2016, 08:26:52 AM »
I want to pick up on Matthew's theme of neuroplasticity and
positive states of mind & positive emotions.

I've recently been reading research papers on saviouring.
Here's what i learned.

First, by way of an introduction... Research into mindfulness distinguishes
between 'state' mindfulness  (which is the mental state of being mindful
which you enter during meditation) and 'trait' mindfulness (also known as
'dispositional mindfulness'). The mindfulness research reveals that those who
enter 'state' mindfulness often gradually increase their scores on 'trait' mindfulness.
 
So in other words, the more you enter mindfulness in meditation, the more
likely you are to develop a proneness to 'naturally' enter a mindful state
outside of meditation - in your day-to-day life.

The research on 'saviouring' (or 'savioring' if you're american) shows us the
same pattern of 'state' saviouring evolving into 'trait' saviouring.
If you deliberately set out to 'saviour' certain experiences:  taking a (slow) shower
with your eyes shut; smelling the scent of lavender, or carbolic soap, or
rosemary  (whatever pleases you)... if you do this enough, it will
become a trait.  And you'll be habitually populating your life with moments
of positive emotion... and appreciation.

This effect of having experiences move from 'state' X to 'trait' X
is because of the process of neuroplasticity as mentioned by Matthew.
The more you do X the more X becomes hardwired into your brain.

This whole theme of state to trait and cultivating positive emotional
experiences is the focus of a relatively new area of psychology called
"positive psychology".   This stuff is particularly interesting because it lines
up so neatly with mindfulness and there is, in fact, a huge emphasis upon
mindfulness in positive psychology.

I have two PDFs linked to below that focus on Positive Psychology
and 'Happiness' (from a positive psychology perspective).  They recommend
mindfulness, (self-)compassion, appreciation, gratitude,  etc.
Perhaps you'll find these PDFs interesting and helpful :)

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Positivepsychology.pdf

http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/Happiness.pdf

« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 08:32:25 AM by playground »

Matthew

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2016, 08:26:53 PM »
Quote
So in other words, the more you enter mindfulness in meditation, the more
likely you are to develop a proneness to 'naturally' enter a mindful state
outside of meditation - in your day-to-day life.

That's why it's called "meditation practice" - it's "off the cushion" stuff that matters :) Or .. in the words of the research it is "Trait" not "State" that one is ultimately developing.

And ... it's not new: the Buddha was teaching it 2,600 years ago :D "Everything changes": trait not state.

There are a couple of processes that go around the brain, while you are both awake yet particularly while you sleep. Synapses that are oversized/underused are marked with a protein marker, then another process shrinks them - and ultimately severs the connection if the synapse remains unused. Other synapses that are undersized/overused get marked with a different protein marker, then they are added to - and grow the more you use them.

This is the way the brain implements changes in daily life and in the things we develop in practice: neuro-plasticity at work.
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

polishedbrass

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2016, 02:21:14 PM »
I have recently used writing in a way that is somewhat similar to some meditation practice. I read about the method in a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called: Reconciliation.

I was going out with a girl I'm in love with, I rarely drink, but this time I did and I had a little too much.
My abandonment anxieties were triggered without there being any real "threat" and I told her that I had to leave.
The next morning I was hungover and not in a state in which I felt meditation would have been very helpful.
I had had bad dreams and was still in an emotional state.

So I sat down and started writing. What I did was first write as my 'higher self' or adult self and ask my 'inner child' who was freaking out so much what he was feeling. Then I went into the feelings and thoughts and just wrote everything out. After that I assumed the stance of the adult again and started carefully reading what I wrote down. Then I wrote to my younger, traumatized, self that I had heard everything he had to say and that I was sorry that he was feeling that way. Then I told him that he is enough and that I love him unconditionally and started writing a little about the bigger perspective of the situation and that there was really nothing to be so upset about while at the same time telling myself/him that it was okay to feel everything and that I was there for him/myself.

I wrote a bit of a back and forth between these two parts of myself and after that I felt very relieved and calm.

I think there are just different tools to use and perhaps some tools can be useful in some circumstances and certain levels of training of the mind that one perhaps lets go of once you reach a different stage of development.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 02:23:07 PM by polishedbrass »

Laurent

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2016, 05:11:12 PM »
Other methods should be helpful, but regular practice of meditation transcends.
Do what you think is good for you, but don't forget daily meditation  :)

behappy123

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Re: To what extend is writing/journalling helpful?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2016, 09:24:01 AM »
I'm a fan of writing/journaling  ;D.  Initially I was frantic and felt that I had to write everything down all the time.  Eventually I just focused 10 minutes (timed) to write out what I was thinking at the time.  If there was a particular tense topic, writing it out helped me see the flaws in my logic and how my emotions were ruling my thought process.  Having it on paper in front of me with my own writing, really helps readjust my frame of reference for both negative things and future plans that I want to see fulfilled.

 

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