I love mornings. I believe they are the perfect time of day to find a quiet moment to yourself. However, recently, finding this quiet moment for myself has been difficult, even in my own company. My brain has felt like oatmeal, just stuffed full of concerns, stress, lists, and who-knows-what-else. In order to clear this junk out of my brain I have started journaling first thing in the morning.
How to do Morning Pages
It is said that the veil of ego is the thinnest in the morning. By looking into yourself first thing you are able to take advantage of this. All you need is 30 minutes.
Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages are 3 pages of longhand, handwritten, stream of consciousness writing. They are never meant to be read again, and should not be neat, completely logical or have to make any sense at all.
There is no wrong way to do them, and all you need is a writing utensil and a piece of paper.
I wake up every day between 6:30 and 7 o’clock. I get dressed and ready for my day and I put a kettle on the stove to boil water. Then, I sit down with a glass of water in front of my kitchen window and open my notebook. Here is where I start my morning pages practice. I typically begin with something like, ” I woke up angry today” or “Today is an exciting day because…”. This gets me going and makes the rest of the writing easier. It really doesn’t matter if your writing is any good. I know, as a owner of an English degree, that these starter sentences make me cringe, but morning pages aren’t about writing and they are not meant to be pretty or correct. Before the kettle boils, I have about 10 minutes to get into the meat of what I need to dig up or get out. I take a break to pour the water into my french press and make myself a cup of coffee. When I return to my notebook, I do not read where I left off. I simply pick up with the next thought lingering in my mind. I typically write two or three pages before I just run out of things to say. If for some reason I run out of time, I bring my notebook with me to work and find a quiet place during my lunch break to dig in further.
I’m not a stickler for rules. Morning pages are “supposed to” be three pages long, but if I don’t get there or I get bored after half a page, I don’t force it. It’s not a huge deal. I don’t know how to describe what morning pages has done for my mental state personally besides cutting my overall stress levels significantly. I can tell you what they are meant to do for you, especially after long term practice!
Benefits of Morning Pages
There are many, many ways that an individual can benefit from journaling or any type of self reflection. The practice of morning pages is said to effect the general public in the following ways;
Center You and Clear Your Mind
By writing your thoughts out you are able to flush them all out of your system before you start your day. This allows you to see what is important and what you can release in order to move forward.
Help You Discover Yourself and Your Creativity
As you write, you discover things that have been hidden inside of you and buried under all of the everyday mind clutter of life. Through journaling you are able to revisit and question the things that you are holding onto from your past.
Silence the Inner Critic
Getting your thoughts out of your head can help you consciously weed through the constructive voices to acknowledge and let go of the others that may be pulling you down.
Sometimes you can’t get rid of all of it, but by putting your envy, anger, fear and vulnerability on paper you can get it out of your system. This may also help you see patterns and acknowledge some of your holdups and anxiety triggers.
Become a More Thoughtful, Level-Headed Problem Solver
By releasing your stressors before your day you are more likely to approach situations with a clean slate, and avoid releasing unjust anger or reactions on people who do not deserve it or are unrelated to the cause. You can also think through your problems prior to addressing them giving you time to construct your argument and frankly, decide where you stand before getting caught up in arguing for the sake of arguing (I’m guilty of this, unfortunately)