Author Your Own Experience

"You will uncover habitual emotions, though tendencies, and chosen habits. You will refine your own voice and vision, and recognize what makes your heart happy. You will learn to invite the circumstances, insights, and energetic connections that will help you to be of service to yourself and the world around you." -Elena Brower

I've journaled for as long as I can remember. There's something about putting things down on paper, literally freeing them from the confines of my mind that just feels GOOD. When I was little I would write stories, stories turned into dreams, and dreams (sometimes) came to fruition. I would let my anger and frustration unroll onto pages until my hands ached, whether it was the inconsequential injustices faced by my 7 year-old self that I just HAD to express, or later the detailed accounts of wrongdoings by unworthy lovers. There were the giddy pages where my handwriting struggled to keep up with my mind racing about the latest and greatest and all of the most exciting achievements or plans. And the pages with just a few words, circled and connected, a mind-map of sorts, most of which I can't decipher anymore. 

And it's a little funny that I use the past tense to describe all of this because... not much has changed. Same racing penmanship at times, other times the pen is so slow that the ink bleeds into the next page. Same release pouring my thoughts, emotions, ideas, and often undecipherable doodles and graphs onto pages. Usually in a sacred space... these days it's sitting on my Samaya meditation cushion with my view of the sky obscured only by my succulents and a candle. And yes, I sage the space for good measure. And yes, there's usually coffee involved.  

You've heard me rave about my 5 year one-line-a-day journal in my Mindful Travel post, but in addition to random notebooks (nightstand, living room, car, etc), journaling has been a HUGE part of my yoga teacher training. We take a yearly trip to Tulum to celebrate Ray's birthday and really enjoy the morning yoga offerings on the beachfront palapa at Papaya Playa Project (10/10 recommend). To get to the palapa, you need to walk through jungle with little patches of open space that reveal the beach like it's some sort of secret, and after class Ray stopped at one of those little patches of light and asked me, "So do yoga teachers just know stuff? About how life relates to the poses? Do they teach that?" At the time, I wasn't sure. It's not just the journaling that has been a part of developing as a prospective yoga instructor, it's the self-observation, the questioning, the lists, the timelines, reflections, and ah-ha moments that show up on the pages that have made all the difference... on the mat, standing in front of a room full of mats, and in this great big world. 

My insanely thoughtful sister-in-law (and guru of all things wine) sent me a book called "practice you" for Christmas this year. You know those people who are so spot-on with what you'd like that it kind of blows your mind? Well, I had literally just ordered the same journal for myself on Amazon the day before. What Elena Brower has created is nothing short of magic-on-paper, which she modestly describes as "a map to your highest self; a field guide of your own creation." The pages are DIVINE (understatement of the century) watercolored masterpieces with thoughtful inquiry. You sort of get torn between "this is too pretty to write on" and "oh my gosh I can't wait to write on this!" as you thumb through the pages. 

And as I'm beginning this journey of Jen Practices, the introduction to the book reads: "YOU'VE BEEN PRACTICING YOU your entire life. You have always been the author of your own experience. This book is an invitation to become the author of a sacred text of your own design, an opportunity to write a personal field guide to your highest self." And since Kelly (my fab sister-in-law) knows me just as well as I know myself, I've got a copy to give away so you can join me in creating this sacred text. Head to the post and enter to win!

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I've got Kino MacGregor's The Yogi Assignment , I am here now: a creative mindfulness guide and journal, The Nocturnal Journal (for sleepless nights), and Design the Life You Love (started, sadly took a break, but digging back in ASAP) on deck, but would love to hear YOUR favorite journals! Comment below to let me know your go-to place to let it all out! Each comment is an extra chance to win!