Change in Your Pocket: How a Video Journal Can Help You Grow

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Change may be hidden in your cellphone, stowed in your digital camera. or stashed in your laptop. What I’m referring to are video cameras. These tiny, often pocket-sized marvels are powerful tools that can be used to increase creativity and foster self-transformation. You’ll learn how in a minute.

If you surf the web, chances are you have watched YouTube. Online video has exploded in popularity over the last several years and it continues to grow and evolve. Video offers us the chance to express ourselves and connect with one another on unprecedented new levels.

But this article won’t teach you to become the next YouTube superstar (although it may be a first step if that’s something you aspire to).

Most people are familiar with the concept of journaling – even if they haven’t had the chance to keep one of their own. Journaling is an excellent way to increase creativity, gain perspective on life, learn from the past and even transform painful emotions.

There is no disputing that writing (whether pen or laptop) is a time proven method to keep a journal. But video journaling offers a new opportunity for growth and change. Video is extremely active and immediate. There is sound, motion and image. Rather than write down thoughts, feelings or meaningful life experiences – these are expressed to an impartial listener – your video camera.

If you already keep a written journal, video journaling will give you a brand new experience. If you have never kept a journal, video may be just the jumpstart you need. Here are six steps to get you going.

1. Keep it Simple

Most video cameras are simple to use. Just turn yours on and away you go. Don’t allow the technology to overwhelm you. There may be many options on your camera, but for the purpose of your video journal, they shouldn’t be necessary. Just don’t forget to hit “record!”

2. Choose Your Angle

Find a private, quiet location where you won’t be interrupted. If your camera is fixed to your laptop or desktop computer, sit with a relaxed but upright posture. If your camera is handheld, choose whatever feels comfortable – this might even mean lying down while holding the camera above you. (Shooting handheld can be tiring after awhile though. Consider purchasing a miniature tripod. They range in cost from five to fifteen dollars.)

3. Your First Entry

Your first video journaling entry may feel a bit awkward. Remember to relax. Connect to your breath. Inhale and exhale fully and deeply to ground yourself in the moment. It can be an unnerving experience to look into a camera lens and speak from the heart. Connect to your feelings, whatever they are, and express them. This might mean speaking, singing, laughing, crying, shouting or using your whole body. Just relax and let go.

4. Embrace the Critic

Don’t be surprised if keeping a video journal quickly connects you with your internal dialog. Speaking from personal experience, it doesn’t take long to get in touch with how I’m really feeling once I start recording. In daily life, the internal critic often keeps a low profile. Yet it’s the negative thoughts that we’re not aware of that often do the most harm. Video journaling helps reveal what’s going on beneath the surface.

When you notice a judgment zip across your mind, pause for a minute. Try to figure out where the judgment comes from. Often the voice of the critic is the voice of someone from the past. See if you can develop a sense of compassion both for yourself and for those who planted those seeds of criticism in the first place. This is a great first step in releasing the judgments altogether.

5. Keep It Private (for now)

Video journaling is not video blogging. A video journal offers the chance to safely experiment with video on your own terms. It’s easy to develop preconceptions as to what it means to be on camera. This is your chance to let those notions go and decide for yourself. The best way to do this is to keep your video journals private at first. As you grow more comfortable on camera you might decide to make some of your entries public or to keep a regular video blog. There is no need to rush anything.

6. Instant Replay

Don’t forget to set aside time to look back at your entries as time goes by. It’s a potent experience to sit-down “face-to-face” as the “you” of today meets the “you” from yesterday through your video entries. This is a unique opportunity to learn from the past as you literally watch yourself grow and change throughout the ebb and flow of life.

This is just the beginning! There are countless ways you can use a video journal for growth and creative self-expression. For example, you might shoot a video self-portrait, create a video time capsule for friends and family or make your own life documentaries. The ongoing exploration is up to you.

Photo by Lomo-Cam