How to Journal and Why Use a Journal

5 Reasons to Journal ― How to Journal, Why Use a Journal

First, you need a close friend who will be with you every step of your spiritual journey.  This friend needs to be faithful in recording your experience with no judgments.

Why Use a Journal?

It seems so old-fashioned and out of date.  But there are some good reasons to use a journal.   It’s the technology that captures a lot of useful data.  It is available any time of day or night to give you feedback.  Once you learn how to journal, you will find it an indispensable tool.

There are many kinds of journals.  You can use a journal to record almost any activity.  People use them to record food, travel, dreams, favorite poems, ideas, and prayers, etc.  We’ll go through the top reasons to use a journal and the best practices to get the most out of them.

5 Reasons to Journal

5 reasons to journal

1. Barometer of Mental and Spiritual State

A record of your deepest thoughts and emotions can show your spiritual growth and point out obstacles to your development. It is best if you use hand-writing rather than a digital version.  Your handwriting expresses emotion.  The slant and size of the letters are all important clues to the state of your mind.  It gives you room to draw pictures.

Writing in a journal helps you improve your ability to skills. Of the 5 reasons to journal this one is definitely first on the list. Why use a journal?  Because it will help you spot trends.  It will show you the roadblocks and your incremental growth.  It will help keep you on track.

2. Record of Dreams and Spiritual Journeys

Record your dreams or fragments of dreams.  Also, record the experiences of your spiritual practices like the Shamanic Journey or Japa meditation.  These are windows to the real you, the Observer of your consciousness.  Freudian psychology uses this as a window to the subconscious mind. This is often the first journal people start with.  It’s one of the best reasons to use a journal.

Record your dreams when you first awaken.  The same with your experiences in the Shamanic Journey.  These dreams and guided imagery often contain messages.  And when you review them suddenly, you see patterns and sychronicities that you overlooked.

3. Automatic writing or automatic handwriting

A private space to practice and record automatic writing sessions.  Another window to the subconscious mind.  A place where the universe can communicate with you.

4. Memory Machine

A place where you can record details of memories.  We can use the date from our memories to learn lessons and overcome the emotional affect past trauma can have on our present.  This is one of the best reasons to use a journal to record our recollection of major events.

5. Goal Coach and Problem Solving Catalyst

A place to write goals and solve problems.  If you record a goal, you are more likely to achieve it.  Solutions to problems come more readily when we see it in writing.  It’s good to have a journal for different activities.  Then, correlate the information.  You’ll find how your dream journal relates to your thought or daily journal.

Still not convinced you should use a journal? Here are even more reasons to use a journal.

Why Use a Journal?

reasons to use a journal

If you need more than 5 reasons to journal, read on.  A hand-written spiritual journal. It’s the one basic tool that you can use almost anytime and anywhere.  You can use it to spot trends you would otherwise miss.  It will help you overcome obstacles in your path by showing you a history of your experiences and thinking patterns.  A teacher and encourager, and friend.

Another reason to use a journal to explore the depth of life.  We overlook or forget some lessons and experiences that make our lives unique.

Keeping a journal has taught me that there is not so much new in your life as you sometimes think. When you re-read your journal, you find out that your latest discovery is something you already found out five years ago. Still, it is true that one penetrates deeper and deeper into the same ideas and the same experiences. ―Thomas Merton

The “Best Kept Secret” ― The Spiritual Journal

Tip #1 for those on a journey of spiritual exploration… start keeping a journal today!

As a tool in your spiritual journey, it is an irreplaceable tool. You will want to find a blank journal or notebook, one that “feels right” and is special to you. Some come with lined pages and some blank, the choice is yours. It doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, just something to jot down your thoughts. Although you don’t have to write in your journal every day, the more we use it, the more empowering it becomes. Don’t make a rule or “force” yourself to write if you don’t want to.

Although we appreciate the advancements in digital devices, this is one document that should be from hand to paper. The meter of your handwriting, the style, the force, the symmetry of your frame of mind will come this way. Little things you underline, draw, etc. will all be important to you.

It is also a powerful written legacy.  Many people leave them as part of their heritage.  We sometimes wonder what a distant family member was like.  These journals are a way of documenting our life’s journey.  They bring to light the joys and struggles.

Why People Resist Using a Journal

More than anything, people are self-conscious.  They are afraid someone else will see what they have written and judged them for spelling and grammar.  Or worse yet, think they’ve written is silly and meaningless.  I

Some say they feel they write too slow and are taking up valuable time.   Or, they’ll say, I don’t like my handwriting or printing.  I’m used to writing on the computer keyboard.   Besides, using a handwritten journal is “old-school.”   It looks like I can’t afford an iPad or laptop.

These concerns reflect the values of our culture.  Everyone feels like they are in a large fishbowl being judged.  There’s no easy way to get around the pressures that are exerted by our modern culture.

Once you decide you will be serious about your spiritual journey, then you need to have the courage to take up a pad and pencil.  Remind yourself that the long-term benefits will be worth it.  It makes sense to keep your journal private.

After a while, these social concerns will fade.  The reasons to use a journal will outweigh these social pressures.  And, the more you study, the more you’ll see others who also use the handwritten journal.  Those of us who have been on the path for many years have many journals.  It’s a good roadmap of sorts, one that I visit from time to time to see how far I’ve come.

How to Journal ― Best Practices

One important recommendation is to use hand-writing rather than a digital version. This will help you record all the clues and emotions in your handwriting.  The other key is to review them from time to time.  Set a reminder on your calendar.  Otherwise, avoid making any other rules for using a journal.  There are, however, some good best practices you can use to help you get the most out of this tool.

  • The best way to learn how to journal, is to do it! Learn what works for you.
  • Don’t edit yourself or worry about grammar and spelling. Describing your experience without editing.  This will enable you to see trends that develop over time that you would not otherwise notice. This is very important. The trends could be in the substance of your practice, the thoughts and emotions that come up, or in the things that happen afterward.
  • Keep your journal handy throughout the day if possible. Later thoughts may come to you that relate to your spiritual practice, write them down (but not while in traffic or walking).
  • Reflect on events and ideas you’ve had and explore your feelings about them.
  • Doodle… draw pictures… let it happen.  Your intuition will communicate wisdom.
  • Indulge in a little poetry or creative writing about life whenever the notion strikes you.
  • Don’t draw judgments about the value of your thoughts.
  • Look at the events of your life differently and possibly improve the way you react to them.
  • Let your journal writing be your writing practice to clear your mind.
  • Record the “eureka” moments… The “ah-ha” moments, anything causing  “goosebumps.”
  • Copy Inspirational and quotes and passages from books which resonate
  • Record your Day-Dreams and Night Dreams
  • Synchronous events
  • Intuitive messages
  • Develop and document our own personal rituals and practices. Some refer to this as their “book of shadows.”
  • Set a reminder to review your journals.  The only way you will spot trends is if you review your documents.

In Conclusion

Why use a journal?  The 5 reasons to journal here will help you learn why you need one. The benefits of using this tool will become clear the more you use them.  You will learn how to journal the more you use them.

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Interested in spiritual exploration?  Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey.  Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions.  Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their own path.


Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s Book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia



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