One of the most powerful things that we did during the two days of the Search Inside Yourself public program in Sydney was a process described as 3 Minute Journaling.
The basic idea is to write your responses to a number of stimulus questions without lifting your pen from the paper. Often there are three questions. These penetrating questions are combined with the three minute time limit to reduce the likelihood of “editing” – to get past your rational mind and allow your thoughts and feelings to flow unimpeded by self-censorship or the felt need for grammatical editing.
Given the time limit, you do not have time to form proper sentences or to worry about logical flow – you just write in a free form manner, akin to “speed writing”. Often this quick approach to journaling, involving a “stream of consciousness“, is used within the context of more formal daily journaling.
The surprise comes when you read what you have written. The process of 3 Minute Journaling invariably turns up some remarkable insights into your own motivations and behaviours and opens the way for greater self-knowledge, awareness of your environment and the feelings of others. In lots of ways it is a journey into yourself.
Some of my posts on this blog have flowed from using the process of 3 Minute Journaling before I sat down to write the actual blog post. You can use a simple idea or insight to start the process or alternatively write responses to two or three questions that have some relevance to you and that encourage you to explore some unexplored terrain or to go deeper into familiar terrain.
Below is an example of three stimulus questions used during the Search Inside Yourself Program in one of a series of three minute journaling sessions:
- When I feel understood, I…
- When I’m at my best, I…
- What I really care about is…
These are penetrative questions that get to the heart of what motivates you and what you really enjoy doing and care about.
I have often used 3 Minute journaling within the context of a manager development program. One of the sets of questions I ask relates to the role of the manager in creating the culture of their workplace:
- What kind of culture are you trying to create in your workplace?
- How congruent is your own behaviour with that culture?
- What kinds of messages are your words and actions giving?
3 Minute Journaling is a powerful process that takes so little time but provides rich results in terms of self-awareness. If you undertake it on a consistent basis, you are well on the way to growing the habit of mindfulness.
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