Why do you need to keep a spiritual journal? First of all, 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 without any judgments. Most of all, they need to be available any time of day or night to give you feedback. This is what a spiritual journal can do.
Do you need more convincing to use a spiritual journal? Please 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 to overcome obstacles in your path by showing you a history of your experiences and thinking patterns. A teacher and encourager, and sometimes a friend.
“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!
A spiritual journal 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 it is used, the more empowered it becomes. Don’t make a rule or “force” yourself to write if you aren’t inspired to do so.
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.
Why do people resist using a spiritual journal?
More than anything people are socially self-conscious. They are afraid someone else will see what they have written and judge them for spelling and grammar. Or worse yet, think they’ve written is silly, and meaningless. I’ve heard 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.
All of these concerns are a reflection 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 are going to 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 does make sense to keep your journal private. After a while, these social concerns will fade. And, the more you study, the more you’ll see others who also employ 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.
Best Practices for your Spiritual Journal
Other than the above highly suggested medium for keeping your journal, avoid making a lot of other rules. It doesn’t have to be perfectly written. Here are some tips, ideas, and benefits for keeping this spiritual “track record.”
- Don’t edit yourself. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling. Describing your experience without editing 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.”
Finally, don’t be hard on yourself if there you have periods where you don’t record anything. These periods will ebb and flow. Maybe you just need to reflect on what you’ve written? And, as always remember that inner work is taxing. There are times when we simply need to rest and normalize.
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