Journaling As A Spiritual Discipline The First Spiritual Tool

The First Spiritual Tool — Journaling As A Spiritual Discipline

The first spiritual tool is a journal.  Journaling as a spiritual discipline is the foundation for many types of inner work, from interpreting dreams to exploring memories.  We have some spiritual journaling ideas to help you get the most out of this tool.

Whether you are just starting your journey or are an experienced spiritual traveler, this tool will help you in several ways.  No other tool can help in so many different ways.

The First Spiritual Tool

You’ll probably create several journals.  So, get the least expensive ones.  These become invaluable for reference when learning or teaching others.  Once you have a journal and pen, you are ready to begin.  Some come with lined pages and some blank.  The choice is yours.

Use it to record dreams and inner-work exercises, thoughts, and daily experiences.  They will become your best problem-solving tools and the most accurate and unbiased spiritual counselors.

Some people call this tool “life of the mind” or a “book of shadows.” No matter what you call it, this is an indispensable tool of personal discovery.  When we start any of our learning groups, we are sure they have a journal.

“When we don’t nourish ourselves with fresh, healthy food, restful sleep, regular exercise, a daily spiritual practice such as meditation or journaling, and other mind-body healing habits, we will inevitably feel tired, out of balance, irritable, and sometimes even depressed. — Deepak Chopra

Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline

A handwritten journal is your best personal coach.  It’s a valuable roadmap of your journey.  That’s why it’s the first tool for your spiritual toolbox.  We consider it an essential best practice.  Your journal is any collection of documents.    It doesn’t have to be a traditional journal.  There are paper napkins, business cards, pictures, pictures from magazines in my journal collection.  They all tell a story.

A folder with notebook paper is the way many people get started.  Notes you buy at the store are inexpensive and come in various sizes.  It gives you a safe place to vent.  It reflects your thoughts and emotions.  So, it helps you spot trends.

We always ask participants to come with a favorite pen(s) and a paper journal.  Although we appreciate digital devices, a journal is indispensable.  Nothing records our thoughts better than our handwriting.  Even the little things you underline, draw, etc., are important clues to your journey.

Journaling as a spiritual discipline is a way of recording your path.  Keeping a journal enables you to notice incremental growth, as well as trends or obstacles.  Above all, it’s your private space for written contemplation.  Use it to capture your dreams first thing in the morning.  Explore your inspirational ideas and frustrations.

Writing enables you to express your creative inspiration without filtering it through technology.  This way, you will capture your thoughts, moods, and emotions.  It becomes an accurate roadmap of your spiritual journey.  It’s also a barometer of your overall health and wellness.

“For me, writing is a way of thinking.  I write in a journal a lot.  I’m a very impatient person, so writing and meditation allow me to slow down and watch my mind; they are containers that keep me in place hold me still. — Ruth Ozeki

Your handwriting reflects your state of mind.  The pace, slant, and pressure in your penmanship are a reflection of your mood.   The science behind analyzing your handwriting, graphology, can be used to delve further.   Your journal will help you spot potential roadblocks.  So, journaling as a spiritual discipline is a powerful cognitive diagnostic tool.  It’s like an EKG for the mind.

When people ask for spiritual journaling ideas, we tell them to record their dreams.  Keep a simple journal handy.  Set a date and timer on your smart device to remind you to write something.  Most experienced spiritual explorers have several creative ideas, goals, tasks, dreams, automatic writing, song lyrics, etc.  When you use a journal, you’ll soon discover the value of paper and pen.

Why People Resist Using a Spiritual Journal?

Most people are socially self-conscious.  We fear the judgment of others.  So, we are fearful of others seeing our innermost thoughts.  We are also self-conscious of spelling and grammar.  They think a handwritten journal is silly and outdated.

Some people believe they write too slow and are taking up valuable time.   Or, don’t their handwriting because they use a keyboard.  Besides, I use the keyboard for everything else.

All the above concerns are a reflection of our culture.  It’s hard to overcome peer pressure or go against cultural trends.  It takes courage to go against the grain, but the spiritual explorer understands the value of the first spiritual tool.   It’s the best-kept secret for serious “inner work.”

Spiritual Journaling Ideas and Tips

the power of the spiritual journal and spiritual journaling ideas

“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

Other than the highly suggested medium for keeping your journal, avoid making too many rules.  It’s not about perfection but inspiration.  Here are some tips, ideas, and benefits for keeping this spiritual “track record.”

  • It doesn’t have to be a fancy or traditional journal document.  Any collection of papers, photos, clipping is part of your spiritual journey.
  • Don’t worry about grammar and spelling.  Just allow your hand to move; it will make your writing easier.  Your thoughts will flow.  Your creative and intuitive mind will engage.  When you do this, you access your subconscious mind, and this is the key to the practice of automatic writing.
  • This document will help you see trends.  So, it helps you spot obstacles that are holding you back.  But, it also enables you to see incremental growth.  It is your life coach.  It is honest and straightforward.  All you need to do is learn how to use it.
  • By all means, keep a journal or something to write on handy.  Thoughts may come to you after your practice.  In this way, you can reflect on the learning (but not while driving a car or walking).
  • Doodle.  Draw pictures.  Let things happen.  Let your intuition communicate your internal wisdom.

“A journal is a repository for all those fragmentary ideas and odd scraps of information that might otherwise be lost and which someday might lead to more “harmonious compositions.” — Henry David Thoreau

  • Indulge in a bit of poetry or creative writing about life whenever the notion strikes you.
  • Reviewing your journal for trends doesn’t mean you should make negative judgments about your life.  Be neutral and non-judgmental; accepting who you are is the only way to make lasting changes.
  • This document will help you see past patterns and lessons.  So it’s a way to improve the way you handle the present.
  • Make your journal a “safe zone” to express any feelings or thoughts.  Use it to “get things out” and clear the mind.
  • Record the “eureka” moments… Document your “ah-ha” moments, record anything causing “goosebumps.” Our intuition always tries to communicate with us; we need to be sensitive to the messages.  It’s one of the most critical spiritual journal ideas and tips.
  • Record quotes that resonate and inspire and motivate.
  • Record your dreams or dream fragments.  A dream journal is one way our psyche and soul speak to us.
  • Learn to trust yourself.  Learn to write “automatically.” Don’t think about what you are writing.  Just let your hand move.  Use it in more advanced techniques like automatic writing.  Let your intuition speak to you.
  • Writing should be fun.  If you don’t feel like writing, then don’t do it.  Don’t make self-imposed rules about how or when you use it.
  • You don’t have to write in your journal every day.  Journaling as a spiritual discipline is something you individualize.  Sometimes you’ll write a lot, and sometimes you go for a while.  It corresponds to the ebb and flow of our journey.

The First Spiritual Tool — In Conclusion

The above spiritual journaling ideas will help you get the most out of your journaling experience.  It is such a simple tool, and many people overlook it.  The journal is the first tool for any spiritual explorer.  Don’t start your inward quest without one.  Its importance will grow the more you use it.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t start using one sooner.

If you attend any of our virtual or face-to-face workshops, the spiritual journal is our first topic of discussion; that’s how important it is.  It truly is the first spiritual tool.  By the end of the first week, you’ll find that writing things down has a calming effect.  We all need a place where we can get peace.

“Curiously, the balance seems to come when writing is woven into every aspect of my life, like eating or exercising – one flows constantly into the next: I’ll wake up and have coffee, read the news, then write a letter or two (always in longhand), then go teach, and after teaching, write a bit in a journal…” —  Kevin Keck

If you have other suggestions or journal ideas, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

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