Journaling Frees the Mind from Everyday Stress

By Shelley Handley, April 2013
Graphics Editor

Elizabeth Wells
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Welles
Elizabeth Welles, professional writer and speaker, performance artist and poet and authority on journaling, spoke to group of students in the PVCC Bruxton Library.

Elizabeth Welles has been journaling since she was a child of seven. On a trip to Europe her mother gave her a little black book and told her, “This is your diary to write in.” From then on Welles found true freedom on the blank page and wrote in it frequently.

Welles, a professional writer and speaker, performance artist and poet, authority on journaling and meditation, says that journaling has three gifts to give: love, well-being and peace.

“Journaling is a way to heal and live your inner-peace, to enhance your creativity and discover your vision and voice ,” said Welles.

On Thursday, Feb. 7, in a quiet corner area of the Paradise Valley Community College’s Buxton Library, students of varying ages listened as Welles shared famous quotes, personal anecdotes and writing examples while guiding her audience through a free-flowing and interactive journaling process.

Welles joked that she has “five Ph.D.’s in life experience.” As a Hamilton College graduate, Welles values her formal academic credentials; however, she believes that it has been her many informal educational experiences, world wide traveling and diverse working relationships that have been most enlightening.

Welles says, “Journaling has inspired people to move away from unhappy job situations, journey cross-country, finish old projects and start new ones.”
“Journaling can never become a task; journaling is an experience, a shared encounter and a transcending place,” Welles explained .

Welles offers these simple tips:

  • Establish an intimate unconditional loving setting — Journaling can be done anywhere and at any time. It is important, however, to create an environment with affirming, supportive and validating tones and voice; a loving place where anything can be shared.

“To journal well,” says Welles, “one has to be able to experience the blank page as freedom where you can write anything, say anything and express anything with no judgment.”

  • Use different ways of expression — Stories, poems, songs, recordings, lists and dialogues are effective journaling methods.

“Indecision can plague all of us, but we can find wisdom in the stories that come from using talking body parts as a tool.”
For example, Welles shares, “I (once) wrote a monologue between my head and my heart to determine which life-choice was better.”

  • Listen and speak to yourself with the voice of compassion — Strong emotions need expressing; when we journal, our stress levels decrease and our immune systems are strengthened, says Welles. “Journaling is cathartic in that it assists in unburdening you from grief or anger… releasing what no longer belongs in your life.”

Welles goes on to explain, “In journaling you do not die with your feelings of loss, but slowly they are transformed into wisdom stories…transformed so something beautiful may grow from pain.”

  • Use meditation and relaxation to enhance the effectiveness of writing or storytelling — Intuition can come from our dreams or quiet internal places, says Welles. To allow times of slowness where you do “as little as possible with no pressure or projects” is incredibly helpful. Asking questions during these restful states can open up creative paths. “What would I love to create? What action am I going to take?” are two questions that Welles encourages.

In storytelling, Welles elaborates on inviting your “imagination where you can delve into play with the fictitious…. ”

  • Use reflection and brainstorming to create energy — During contemplative experiences, journaling can facilitate vision and voice.

“As we become open and compassionate, we gain more confidence and authorship of our life,” Welles says. “Free association and imagination can bring greater insight, harmony and peace.”

  • Write from present to past to present — “This exercise starts with exactly and precisely where you are now. Notice your surroundings, observe without analysis, and write what you see, hear, touch, feel, and taste without adding interpretations. Now, go backwards into the story. When you write towards the issue and then away from it back into the present, you can gain clarity and perspective,” Welles says.
  • Remember the basics — “Simply write about anything at all — past, present or future. If you get stuck, then keep going by writing the last word or sentence again and again until something bursts through,” Welles says .

Welles believes that many people can journal effectively without guidance, but if one chooses to enhance and expand the practice, then the help of a seasoned professional can be of great benefit.
For more information about Welles visit www.ElizabethWelles.com.

Email the Puma Press at pumapress@paradisevalley.edu

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