Lady Calen over at Impromptu Promptlings has been fielding a discussion about journalling over the last week or so. I thought I’d  throw my two bits worth in. I’ve dug up and reworked this article I wrote about journalling over ten years ago for a workshop.  Participants worked in pairs. The exercise started with a guided meditation. Each participant recorded any images and information they received. It provided the vehicle for a beginning exploration of intepreting its content.

Journalling can be used to explore signs, dreams and information that is received by various means. The challenge is one of understanding the message. Exploring and finding the answer is part of the learning.  It is important to take note of as much detail as possible. There is often important information contained within the detail. The trick here is to switch off the logic and jot down anything and everything that comes to mind.

(If working with dreams, it is helpful to write it down in as much detail as possible on waking. Some people keep a dream journal on their bedside table. Do not dismiss any bits that you remember. It is also possible to recall dreams later if done with intent in a meditative state.)

The following is an example of this type of journalling using an image a participant had seen during the meditation.

Image : an orange tree, bearing much fruit with a yard stick next to it.

Brainstorming the detail


  • how big was it
  • was it firmly planted
  • was it lush and bushy
  • OR straggly and unhealthy
  • was it flowering
  • was the fruit ripe, not ripe, combination of both
  • if ripe was the fruit  juicy  and tasty
    OR dry and tasteless
  • did the fruit contain seeds
  • were the leaves green and  healthy
  • OR withering and malnourished
  • what is the tree symbolic of
  • what is the fruit symbolic of
  • what are the seeds symbolic of
  • what are the leaves symbolic of


  • what was the yardstick made of
  • was it new
    OR  old
  • how long was it
  • did it have clear markings on it
  • if so, is that important and why
  • why was it next to the orange tree
  • had it been used somehow with the tree
  • if so, how and why
  • what is the yardstick symbolic of
  • is what the yardstick is made of important
  • if so why

Once all the questions you can think of are listed, start working through them one by one. Not all will be relevant. Write down whatever comes into mind, without judgement, logic or rationalising. You may well find that some questions will lead to others you had not thought of.

When  finished, read the information you have collected. See if there is anything further to add. You will find that the right answers will intuitively resonate with you.  The message may be confirmation of something important in your life; it may be a message about needing to do something; it may be a consolidation of some inner work already completed or are about to be completed.

Often the images received are symbolic of the self, or aspects of the self. They can provide valuable data to assist in the journey of personal growth and development.

Interpreting the image – 


  • how big was it ?

It is a mature tree, well established, decades old

  • was it firmly planted ?

It is solidly grounded with strong roots

  • was it lush and bushy ?

The tree is nicely shaped, mostly lush green shiny leaves. There are some old leaves and dead wood that need to be pruned.

  • was it flowering ?

There are many flowers on it – some buds, some beginning to open, others fully open and exuding a strong, beautiful perfume

  • was the fruit ripe, not ripe, combination of both ?

The fruit is abundant – a variety of new, green fruit of varying sizes, some ripening and others fully mature and ready to pick

  • if ripe was the fruit  juicy and tasty  ?
    The mature fruit is sweet, juicy and very tasty
  • did the fruit contain seeds ?

There are many seeds

  • what is the tree symbolic of ?

The tree is symbolic of the body

  • what are the fruit and flowers symbolic of ?

The fruit is symbolic of mind / spirit and spiritual gifts. Some are fully developed, some are maturing, some are beginning to grow – either as newly formed  (flower buds, flowers) or developing  (unripe fruit)

  • what are the seeds symbolic of ?

The seeds are symbolic of  potential new growth. In order for these to grow the seed needs to be planted, nurtured and supported

  • what are the leaves symbolic of ?

The leaves are symbolic of personality, characteristics and attributes. As with any tree some of the leaves are yellowing and have insect bites or are old and need to be removed in order for the tree to remain healthy


  • what was the yardstick made of ?

It is as old as the tree ,made of wood, and as the name says, it is a yard in length. It has markings on it, some of which are faded and hard to read

  • if so, is that important and why ?

Only in that it has been around a long time

  • why was it next to the orange tree ?

Because it is used to measure growth

  • what is the yardstick symbolic of ?

It is a device that is used to measure. In this instance it is used to measure growth of the tree and its fruit. The yardstick is therefore symbolic of the various ways in which  information is used to measure growth 

Pulling it together –

This image tells of many things – the body is healthy and mature. However there are components that need attention and discarding in order to live a healthy and balanced life that supports ongoing growth and wellbeing. The mature fruit and flowers are fully developed aspects of the self. These are qualities like compassion, sense of humour, groundedness, spiritual connection, openness to learning and growth.

 The unripe fruit and flower buds are aspects that are evolving and growing as the journey of discovery continues.

 The measure of  growth is very important for by receiving feedback about the various aspects that are healthy and well and those that need further attention.

The richness in the symbolism of this message  could lead to further journaling utilising the metaphors for ongoing exploration of personal growth and development. It could, for example be utilised to hone in on a ‘bud’ (= new skill, attribute, quality) and follow the journey of its ripening and maturing. Equally as well it could be utilised to follow the journey of pruning the ‘dead wood’ and the resultant impact on health. The symbolism is open to many creative and innovative ways of exploring one’s journey of growth and discovery.

Journalling does not have to be just writing. Creativity is the key. Painting, drawing, doodling, a combination of all of these. It is useful to date the work/ Going back to it at a later time is likely to yield more insights and layers of meaning.

©  Raili Tanska


14 thoughts on “Journalling

  1. Most excellent article, and very easy to understand. I do that with dreams from time to time. I write just a sentence of what it was about in the middle of a page then all around the paper I scribble things I remember and draw a line from the center to the other things. Then one-by-one I go through each of those off-shoots and write about them. In fact, I have recurring dreams about vehicles — especially cars. For years I interpreted them as meaning I was feeling abandoned by someone. The during one of those writing exercises I finally realized it was about ME, about how out of control I felt in my life. TOTALLY changed the way I viewed those dreams. I listen to them differently now. It’s kind of the same procedure. Thanks, Raili. This was great!

    1. You got it! That sounds like a really creative and good way of journalling too. And we do find new layers of meanings over time as we mature and grow. Thanks Calen for your comments and information 🙂

  2. Fascinating stuff here, Raili. I would be impressed at the level of detail that one can remember from a dream…mine are not all that clear…vivid, but the physical details often get lost. Our subconscious mind…a natural problem solver. ☺

    1. Thanks! If you ever give it a shot, you may be surprised at just how much you can recall when you start recording without your ‘critic’ on board.

  3. Interesting…I like how there was a detailed list to get you thinking about the image; a good starting point. Though I’ve journaled since I was a little girl, I never have written about my dreams. Cool concept! Thanks for sharing–

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