Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Practice Naikan While Journaling

Naikan (pronounced nye-kahn) is a Japanese practice that blends meditation and gratitude. The word means "inner observation," made up of nai (inner or inside) and kan (observation). Naikan creates awareness by helping you remember the significant people in your life.

In the book, "Wabi Sabi Simple," author Richard Powell suggests taking your journal to a quiet room and sitting comfortably with no distractions, preferably in a corner behind a screen. Write down the names of one to five people who mean a lot to you, whether relatives, friends, teachers or coworkers. Then ask yourself three questions concerning each person:
1. What have I received from _________?
2. What have I given this person?
3. What troubles, difficulties or worries have I caused this person?

Write down concrete examples, such as "My mother always made lunch for me for school and told me she loved me as I left the house in the morning." General statements such as "My mother was nice to me" doesn't work. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes and try to feel what he or she has felt.

Through your meditations and writing, what you find important about your relationship to this person will become more clear. When the time is right, express to each person on your list your gratitude for the specific things that they have given you.


Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Travel Journal Shortcuts

One of the best times to start a journal is during a special trip or vacation. And when teamed with photos and drawings, the same journal entries will take on added power to fortify an artist's journal or scrapbook.

How do you start a travel journal, especially if you have never journaled before? Take a shortcut. This means writing short, brief phrases that describe the people, places and things you encounter on your journey, instead of trying to tackle long sentences and hefty paragraphs. And because you're on-the-go, you may not have time for anything more than short, pithy descriptions. Think postcard writing, but even more brief!

Here are a few examples, cited in "Creative Utopia," a book on maximizing your creativity by graphic designer Theo Stephan Williams. In her chapter on "Keeping a Journal," she includes a few of her own personal photos from a trip to Provence in France.

Describing her hotel Les Antiquities:
-- beautiful English flower garden
-- cherubs over bed
-- funny mustachioed check-in man
-- butt-shaped minitub

Describing Dominique, a photographer she met:
-- quick smile, slight space between front teeth
-- has supreme eye for lighting
-- Skecher shoes
-- worried about his health
-- fun, excited about his work

Refer later to your brief comments to write in greater length after you get back to your hotel room. Or you might try your hand at creating a poem or haiku based on one or more of your phrases. Or even take your snippets as is and use the words as borders for your photos in a scrapbook, writing with a colored or calligraphy pen along all four sides. Everytime you look at the photos and read the words, memories from your trip will come flooding back. ◦