Emotional Awareness Journaling

Loosening the Stuck Places


"Focusing is a path of self-inquiry that welcomes nuanced experiences that we often overlook. We gently bring awareness into our bodies, which is where feelings and sensations reside. We allow and befriend whatever we are experiencing in a way that permits the stuck places to loosen …moving us toward greater peace, freedom, and wisdom."


~ John Amodeo


Listening to your body for 15 minutes a day can help you to become friends with your emotions. I share a journaling method to support you to recognize and name your emotions. Sit quietly with your journal on your lap. Close your eyes. When images, words and body senses arise, record them in your journal.


 1. Clearing a Space


Take a moment just to relax. Pay attention to your body. See what comes there when you ask, "How is my life going? What is the main thing for me right now?" Sense within your body and let the answers come slowly.


When some concern comes or a bodily tightness or pain arises, do not go right inside of it. Stand back from your problem, and say "Yes, that’s there. I can feel that...there." Let there be a little space between you and what is troubling you.


Then, ask what else you feel. Wait again...and sense. Usually there are several things happening in your emotional world at one time. Write down all that you sense in your body, such as, "I also feel tension in my throat, "flutteriness" in my heart and upset in my stomach."


2. Felt Sense


Select one discomfort or problem to focus on from those that arose. Do not go inside of your problem. Stand back from it and witness it in a friendly way.


There will be many parts to that one thing you are thinking about – too many to sort out cognitively. But you can feel all of these things together on a "felt sense" level.


Pay attention to where you feel the most major concern in your body, and sense what the entire problem feels like. Let yourself feel the unclear sense of all of that.


3. Handle (Naming Your Felt Sense)


What is the quality of this unclear felt sense? Let a word, a phrase, or an image come up from the felt sense itself. It might be a descriptive word, like "tight, sticky, scary, stuck, heavy, jumpy," or it might be a phrase. An image or a memory might come to mind instead. Stay with the quality of the felt sense until something fits it just right.


Try to avoid simple labels such as "sad, angry, mad." Keep in mind that your inner bodily felt sense might offer up a much more creative name or an image. Allow the descriptive process to be unusual if it wants to be. Your felt sense descriptions do not need to make logical sense. 


4. Resonating (Checking if the Description Fits)


Go back and forth between the bodily felt sense and the word (phrase or image). Check how they resonate with each other. See if there is a little body signal that lets you know there is a fit. Hold the felt sense in your body and the word/phrase/image in your mind at the same time. 


Let the felt sense change if it wants to. Also, play with the word or picture to see if it wants to change. Allow your body feeling, word and/or inner picture to change until they capture the quality of the felt sense just right.


5. Asking (Inquiring More Deeply)


Now ask: what is it about this whole problem, that makes this quality so...that which you have just named or pictured? Make sure the quality is sensed again, freshly, vividly (not just remembered from before).


Feel into your body and ask,"What makes the whole problem so ______(tight, sticky, stuck, etc?)." If you get a quick answer without an inner body shift, just let that kind of answer go by. Return your attention to your body and freshly find the felt sense again.


Then ask it again. Be with the felt sense until you feel a slight "give" or release in your body. This feeling of release usually indicates that a new insight or understanding has arisen. Often a deep breath will indicate that the felt sense that has emerged has been fully heard.


 6. Receiving


Receive whatever intuitively comes (or does not come) in a friendly way. Stay with this sense of inner relief for a while, even if it is only a slight release. Whatever comes, this is only one shift; there will be others. Linger for a few moments in this inner shift.


You may not always feel a body-shift, but may notice you simply feel emotionally better from paying attention to yourself. The main aim is to spend time sensing into an unclear holistic body-sense for a dedicated period of time. 


Your inner world offers an endless parade of spontaneous words, images, colours, sounds, tones and textures to reflect upon.


Simply naming these inner felt senses invites the rich dawning of emotional awareness. Emotional healing happens when you pay loving and curious attention to your inner landscape.


For more information on Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapy see www.focusing.org