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Hood College professor teaches community about the “Joys of Journaling”

By Staff | Aug 17, 2018

Hood College Professor Kathleen Bands discusses her own experiences in journaling at Christ Reformed United Church of Christ. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN — After each attendee picked up a free journal and took time to study a few examples of journals before sitting down at a table, Hood College Professor Kathleen Bands passed around colorful folders, pads of sticky notes, pens and markers to each person.

The goal of the workshop, which was held at Christ Reformed United Church of Christ as part of its First Tuesday Speaker Series, was to remind attendees of the “Joys of Journaling.”

“Journaling is something that’s near and dear to my heart,” Bands said. “Over the years, I’ve learned if I don’t journal an experience, I forget it. The beautiful thing about journaling, is there’s no right or wrong way to do it.”

Explaining that journals are meant to memorialize practices, thoughts or experiences — travel, art, nature, health and fitness, etc. — considered valuable by the author, Bands encouraged the group to use the materials she handed out, to write down ideas of journals they would like to keep.

According to Bands, people tend to forget special moments, but if they keep a journal to record those experiences, they will be able to remember those moments vividly whenever they look back through their journals. The thing that makes moments memorable are the emotions people feel during the moments, which journal-keepers can re-experience through reading their journals.

“That emotion, that opportunity to experience something. That is the story of life, and the reason why we journal,” Bands said. “Without thinking about it, we forget the emotion and meaning of the experience. By journaling, we memorialize those emotions.”

According to Bands, keeping a journal not only memorializes moments in time, but also encourage mindfulness in everyday life.

“We are creatures of habit, and if we don’t stay in the moment, we lose wonderful memories,” Bands said, referring to research indicating people have about 30 seconds to capture an idea, before its forgotten.

“You need to have a strategy to remember that experience, to be in the moment. If you don’t capture it, you forget it,” Bands said, mentioning one way people can remember special experiences is by always carrying sticky notes and a writing implement, so thoughts or experiences can be written down before they’re forgotten.

“Remember you just have to put down enough to capture ideas of what you experienced or thought–you don’t have to write down full sentences,” Bands said.

According to Bands, besides memory and mindfulness, journaling has a third purpose — it can be used therapeutically, working out negative feelings and emotions by writing about them.

“My challenge is, figure out one thing you want to journal about, and make it work for you,” Bands said. “What are you going to do? It can be a beautiful story.”