Journaling is an incredible tool that I don't use often enough.


I'm not sure why we resist the practice of journaling so much.


For me, it is still not so easy to face a blank page, even after journaling for many years.

Why is this so? Well, for one, the stark white surface stares at me with the boldest indignation muttering "Go ahead, I dare you...write what you really feel, and oh yes, try to keep it short please...."


The other thing that holds me back is the deeper, darker reason---confronting myself with the parts of me that I'd rather ignore. This seems like a compelling reason to postpone. Hey, if I don't bring up any negative feelings they don't exist, right?


Perhaps I also find it challenging because my practice is not very regular. I don't do "morning pages" [the creative foundational tool promoted by Julia Cameron years ago] because I am always in a rush to get the day started and more often than not, writing ends up last on my list of 'to-do's' in a day.


Another reason is that sometimes it feels so self-indulgent to take even more time to write after all the other practices I do on a daily basis. (really, how can people fit it all in??)


Yet when I do write, I feel accomplished in a precious indescribable way. It's as if I've given voice to the unspeakable, to the deepest part of my soul. I am emboldened to have slayed the white page monster. I am a little more at peace. And I feel brave for looking at myself the way I know I need to.


There are very real benefits to this practice, and if learning about them will encourage you to write more, then read away here, and here, and even here.


You can start writing your thoughts spontaneously at any point in the day. Try just writing even one sentence at a time. Once you unlock that gate to your inner self, it will get used to the air and come forward more often.


Try any of these 7 Journaling tips to help you get started:


  1. What you write is for you alone.

  2. You don't need a fancy journal book. A spiral bound notebook, or composition book (remember them?), or just some stapled pages will serve the purpose. On the other hand, you might choose to go in the opposite direction. Pick the most attractive book and writing implement if it will serve as an incentive for you.

  3. This is not the place to worry about grammar or syntax (see #1).

  4. You don't even have to begin with words. You might try doodling at first, just to loosen up your creative brain. Or use pictures to represent a feeling or mood.

  5. The next time you're facing an issue, or a cross-roads, try 'talking it through' by writing.

  6. Silence the "judgey" voice that tries to critique you at the outset. There is absolutely no wrong or right in this practice.

  7. Even if nothing comes to you at first, you can begin writing "nothing is coming to me..." (guaranteed to work, let me know if it doesn't).

Do you have a journaling practice? If so, can you share what it is? Your ideas can help others who are struggling, and we can struggle together. How about it? Offer your comments on InnerJudaism's Facebook page.





Tikkun Olam, תיקון עולם, literally "Repair the World" is a Jewish concept that barely needs definition. Showing up in many places, it is also recited at the end of the prayer "Aleinu", the closing of many formal prayer services.

There, we speak of a future vision of wholeness and our ability, in the days to come, to repair the broken parts of our world within the majesty of the Source [le-taken olam b’malchut shaddai].


The message is that correcting the brokenness will not occur in isolation, but will be realized when we acknowledge our true spiritual connection with God. It is our job to bring out the sparks of holiness in our physical world.


How do we bring that idea down to the personal? In response, many people participate in "mitzvah days", "days of service" and "Tikkun Olam" programs. We all look forward to the time when we can gather again to do this important work. But we can't be on hold either. And when we really think about our responsibility to change the world, it can be overwhelming.


Judaism has your back. The word Tikkun appears as הַתְקֵן עַצְמְךָ in our sources and can be defined as "Repair Yourself" (also, prepare yourself). The change begins within, and that we can do now and all the time.


In Pirkei Avot [Foundational Ethics, 4:16], Rabbi Jacob says that our experience in this world is similar to our being in a corridor, a place to prepare ourselves for the next world, Olam HaBa.


A better world comes about by changing ourselves, by acting in the present moment. The actions we take might be minor, very small, but those actions ripple outwards.


Rabbi Israel Salanter, founder of the Mussar Movement (a movement focused on ethical behavior) in the 19th century came to this conclusion:

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. But I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my country. When I found I couldn’t change my country, I began to focus on my town. I discovered that I couldn’t change the town. So, as I grew older, I tried to change my family.
Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself....
Then I can make an impact on my family…and from that, our family could impact our town. And that, in turn, could have changed the country and we could all indeed have changed the world!” [edited]

The Gaon of Vilna, a century earlier, said "The ultimate purpose of learning Torah is to change your character".


Changing ourselves can only happen when we become intimately aware of our actions. We often drift within the passing of our days, only realizing our stumbles when we've already fallen off the cliff of our relationships.


There are many practices, built into Judaism, that gift us with capturing moments of awareness. Becoming aware of moments before they flit away is possible through blessings, meditation, prayer, and engaging in mitzvot (commandments---there are many that don't involve large groups)---you can choose what works for you. At their core, all involve a 'living-in-the-present' focus.


Ironically, when we hold onto the present in these ways, the future is within our reach. This Tikkun of Ourselves, הַתְקֵן עַצְמְךָ, can be the ripple that turns into a wave for Tikkun Olam תיקון עולם.

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Aren't I the only one here? What's this business about me, a soul and all this spirituality stuff?


There's a lot of talk about soul (not the music kind). The buzz was even captured by Disney's just-released blockbuster.


So, do you feel a little out of this whole loop? Defining the indefinable is a familiar challenge (it's hard enough to think about God, right?).


Judaism has so many beautiful teachings about the soul, so let's examine one small way of understanding our soul.


Is the you that is reading this the inner you? How do you become aware of your own actions? Do you rethink things, mull them over in you mind? Do you replay events over and over? Who is the "you" that is doing this? Well, it actually depends. We know there are several voices in our head....and it takes time to gain a refined ability to figure out who's talking. There's the ego, the body, the mind---all competing for a ticket to be in the front seat of your show.


Not to mention the poor little soul struggling to get its' own voice heard. What a cacophony.


Our egos are talking to us all the time, wanting to pretend that they are our voice. Know how you can tell? The ego's voice is not actually very nice, it's the one saying things like: "You're an imposter", "You got to be kidding me, you think that you can do that?" "I want this thing...NOW", "I need to stay in bed..." and a lot of other unsavory tidbits.


That voice is the cruel judge, the procrastinator, the incessant advice-giver, the one who lives in fear, the snide critic, the self-centered egotist, and any other image that you can conjure up that works for you. Identifying the voice as one that speaks out of Fear not Love will help.


In time, you'll get to recognize these uninvited intrusive guests, which is the first step in muzzling them (notice I didn't use the word silence...it's likely that won't happen).


Ultimately, you don't have a soul, you are a soul. Your soul knows what is authentically true about you, but over time, as you can imagine, that voice gets hidden under a lot of other, well, garbage. Some spiritual teachers are more delicate...saying that 'spiritual veils' cover the purest part of ourselves, which is our soul.

One tool to be able to discern your authentic voice is to try out Rabbi Manis Friedman's recommendation which makes things far more simpler. Just think of your soul as having two aspects which can serve as a more trusted guide.


Is your voice telling you to be Selfless or Selfish?


When you spend a little bit of time quieting down the noise, and start listening to the voice that needs your help, the selfless one, you should gain better footing.

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To register for "Secrets of the Hebrew Alphabet" click here.

Check out the new "Meditative Drawing" event here.

Please forward to others who might be interested, thanks!


WHY STUDY? 

Engaging in study is fulfilling a Jewish obligation, a mitzvah. When you increase your wisdom, you sensitize yourself and grow from the experience. So, not only are you growing closer to God, you are reaching deeper parts within yourself. 

CONTACT INFO

267. 225. 6136

ruthschapira@innerjudaism.com 

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