A journal can be a sacred ally that helps us access and navigate the heights and depths of Being. Journaling is liberating; it welcomes the forgotten, the forbidden, the possible. We can intentionally use the journal as a transformational tool on our spiritual journey.
Here are some suggested guidelines for a spiritual journal:
Discover for yourself how, when, and where you want to write. Journaling is a very personal endeavor. There are no rules. I choose to write mostly in the morning because that feels right to me. At times I also write in the afternoon or evening. I may, for example, need intuitive guidance about a life situation or perhaps I want to reflect on a meaningful experience or perception. In the past, I didn’t always write everyday, but now I do because it is so helpful. That may change at any time. Use implements and notebooks that spark a ‘yes’ in you. There are no right tools. Include pictures, sketches, and/or doodles if you like. Anything goes!
Let the writing happen. Relax and allow what is present for you in your body, mind, and soul to be freely expressed and to come through you onto the page, unhampered by reason or logic.
Have an intention to tell the truth. Here is a ‘room of your own’ where you can fully reveal yourself to yourself. You can be raw, uncensored, free. You can take your secrets out of hiding. I love the saying, “We’re only as sick as our secrets.” Unhampered by the constraints of the linear, thinking mind, banished shadow parts of ourselves and forgotten angels unearth themselves and burst into the light of day.
Before you write, take a few minutes to do a bridging activity, such as a simple breathing exercise, stretching, or listening to music. This can help you transition from other frames of mind to the reflective process of journaling.
Journaling Exercises and Activities
Choose topics and questions related to your spirituality that you want to explore, and write freely for any length of time. Write from a place of presence without censoring or thinking about where the writing is going. Let yourself be surprised. Topics may include your past and current relationship to spirituality, what the word spirituality means to you, familial and cultural messages that have influenced your spiritual beliefs and understandings, current edges and areas of inquiry, what feeds your soul, what depletes you, teachers and teachings that inspire you, people, places, and things that enhance your spiritual life, practices that resonate with you and how they serve you, obstacles that you have encountered, your strengths and gifts, and where you want to offer your gifts, your spiritual lessons from daily life, e.g., work, relationships, family, money, and health, and any other themes or topics that are relevant and meaningful to you.
Collect quotes and poems that inspire you, and include them in your spiritual journal. Reflect on them and write about their significance to you. You might even want to select a particular word or phrase and write in response to that.
Record past and recent moments in which you felt deeply connected to Being. Write about them slowly, and take them in as you write. Registering and savoring sacred experiences in your body-mind and writing about them helps to deepen the impact they have on you.
Choose a question about any life situation or consideration and write it at the top of a page. Clear your mind of everything but the question. Sense that you are posing this question to your inner wisdom, not to your analytical mind. Relax and listen deeply. Let the answer arrive and jot down anything that comes to you without analyzing or evaluating what you’ve written. Continue to write until the flow stops.
Choose some personal subject matter and begin writing about superficial aspects of this material. Write for a couple of minutes and let yourself drop into a deeper level of awareness. Continue writing, then feel yourself going even deeper. Do this until you feel that you have reached the core of your exploration.
What You Feed Grows
Identify qualities that you want to nurture, such as compassion, equanimity, creativity, presence, wisdom. Write about how your life will be enhanced if you cultivate these potentials, how you might foster the growth of these qualities, and what could get in the way. Over time you might want to write about how you are doing, what you are learning, and how you are working with obstacles that you may encounter.
Working with images is a powerful way to tap into the light and shadow realms of the unconscious. Using magazines, greeting cards, and other sources, start a collection of images that you feel drawn to, perhaps pictures that evoke heart and meaning. Whenever you feel like it, choose an image that speaks to you in the moment, reflect on it for a few minutes, then free write in response to it. Images can have many layers of meaning and insight. Express freely any and all associations that come to you.