One of my concerns as a journal writer is to find ways of discovering what’s in my heart, rather than just what’s in my head. In fact, it’s a lot easier for me to write about my thoughts than my feelings. I suspect I’m not alone in this.
I often use the prompt “My heart is ……….” to guide my journal writing to a deeper focus on feelings. Using this prompt has helped me tap into a reservoir of understanding and guidance not available to me when concentrating on thoughts instead of feelings. For me, “thinking things through” isn’t very effective in getting to know myself and discovering what’s important to me.
The prompt “My heart is ……….” has taken me different directions and given me insights into promising “next steps.” There was a period of time when, for several days in a row, the first line in my journal was “My heart is troubled.” Just writing – and then reading – the sentence allowed me to experience, not only the pain of a troubled heart, but the necessity of acknowledging and responding to this pain. My first response was to wrap myself in a cloak of caring. Accepting the fact that my heart was troubled led to self-compassion (not pity) and an understanding that a troubled heart can be cradled and comforted. With this understanding came peace. I’m sure I would not have discovered this place of peace if I tried to analyze all the reasons why I was feeling frustrated and disappointed or had developed a plan for dealing with the unwelcomed aspects of my life.
Another example of how this prompt has helped me is when I wrote “My heart is yearning” and then devoted several pages of my journal to expressing some ideas of what I was yearning for—close relationships, a generous spirit, and a sense of purpose. I often go back to this journal entry when I allow the “little things” in life to disturb my equanimity. I simply ask, “What is my heart yearning for?” and am reminded of the true priorities of my life.
Using the prompt “My heart is ….” often leads to a type of resolution. My troubled heart found peace; my yearning heart uncovered priorities. On another occasion, my grateful heart prompted generosity.
What’s in your heart? Pause for a moment, breathe slowly, and place your hand on your heart. Now, open your heart to what you’re feeling now. It might be sadness, confusion, joy, anticipation, anger. Whatever it is, use the prompt “My heart is …..” to record what you’re feeling. The form you use isn’t important. It might be something active, as in “My heart is crying,” or something more descriptive of a mood, as in “My heart is sad.” From there, write about what’s in your heart. Does it feel heavy, energizing, uplifting? How might you respond to what’s in your heart? Use this prompt over a period of several days. What are you discovering?