Did you know that journaling can help with insomnia? Keeping a journal beside your bed can help combat sleep issues. Do you wake up in the middle of the night ? Perhaps at the same time, and you don’t know why? It could be your organs talking to you.
Chinese Medicine Organ Theory
The theory in traditional Chinese Medicine is that the Chinese organ clock relates to each of the organs of the body. Each organ is active at a different time during the day. Each organ is related to an emotion or emotional quality. When we are woken up during a particular organ’s ‘active’ phase, it can relate to unprocessed or hidden emotions-the body’s wisdom speaking to you. This is why having an outlet like a journal available to you to channel these emotions can help with irregular sleep patterns. It’s one of the ways we can clear out these emotions to give them somewhere to go.
The most common times to wake up are between:
1:00-3:00 am: Liver, which governs the more fiery emotions, from annoyance to frustration to rage.
3:00-5:00 am: Lung, which governs sadness and grief.
Years ago, I was waking up at 3:30 consistently for almost an entire year, for ‘no reason’. I was considering sleeping pills to combat my insomnia but before I did, my TCM at the time recommended this powerful technique I share below as an experiment, thinking that if it didn’t work, then I had a fall back plan.
He had me journal the emotions of the lung when I woke up for a week. The lung is related to grief and sadness. After 4 days of nightly journaling, a memory came up. For me it was around losing a teddy bear when I was 5 years old. I was fishing on the lake with my parents and wanted to show my Teddy the water. It slipped out of my hands and promptly sunk to the bottom like a rock. And as silly as it sounds as I recount it, I had immense emotion about this. It was likely my very first memory or experience with grief. I had a wee cry about it, and then I fell asleep. From that night forward, I did not wake up at 3:30 again, which is pretty unbelievable.
Journal these topics without judgement. Allow yourself to explore what might be hiding in your liver and lungs. You can make it as simple, or as creative as you like. Some people like to buy a nice journal and get a new pen specifically for this.
Before bed, open to a fresh page and place the pen in the crease for easy access. As soon as you wake up, start writing the first thought in your mind. Think of the practice as a way to create space. The key concept is to not censor yourself -write anything and everything out. Let the pen free flow. Even if it doesn’t make sense, or goes off topic. Then bring to mind the emotion that relates to the time you have woken up. Write as if no one will read it, not even you. Forget grammar, spacing and spelling, just scratch it out. If you wake up and find there is resistance, then write about that.
The key is to write regardless of anything. By writing, you are able to access your subconscious mind and it gives you the opportunity to access the deeper areas of the mind, where thinking falls short. Once you’re complete, close the book, turn off the light, and go back to sleep. When you wake up in the morning consider taking it to ceremony. Burn it, rip it up, flush it, shred it or recycle it.