Journaling as a Spiritual Practice
April 1, 2008 · Print This Article
Journaling Reveals Insights into Your Life and Meditation
Journaling as a spiritual practice can heighten your experience of life and meditation by revealing hidden meanings and significance to the events of your life. It opens you to new understandings that may not be obvious at first.
All you need is a paper and pen. Actually, if you use a computer, you don’t really need even that. Some people use a word processor, others use regular paper, and some people like to invest in a nice leather bound book and colored pen. Whatever form your journal takes, allow it to be something that resonates with you and inspires you to use it.
Step 1 – Choosing a Topic
Write the date at the top of the page. This gives you an indication of when you wrote this when you go back and read it in 3 weeks, or 3 months, or 3 years.Choose a topic. It may be a life experience, traumatic event, meditation experience, question or something else. Write your topic or question at the top of the page under the date.
Step 2 – Write it All Down
Write down everything you think or feel about your topic or question. Write down everything that comes to mind, without an editor. This means you don’t edit or censor anything that comes to mind, you just write it all down. This can be the hardest part, because you may think about writing something, and then you’ll have the thought, “Oh, I can’t write that. That sounds terrible.” Or “That’s just stupid!”If these thoughts arise, do your best to disregard them and continue writing whatever thoughts or feelings come up for you in the course of writing. Do this for at least 5 minutes, more if needed.
If you’re writing about a meditation experience, try to capture the essence of the experience with words. Sometimes expressing such an experience is not easy, but you may find that translating such an experience into words lends itself to deepening the experience you had in meditation.
Step 3 – Be Creative
Not everyone is “word” oriented. Many people enjoy pictures and expressing themselves creatively. If you’re such a person, step 2 might be difficult, but now’s your chance to shine. In step 3, be creative.Create or include pictures or symbols about your experience. This could take the form of a doodle, or a magazine cut out, or a full color painting. Anything you want to express the topic or question. Be creative and express yourself as fully as you’d like. If you’re writing about a meditation experience, draw something that captures the essence of that experience for you. Or…
Write a poem. Some of my most memorable meditation experiences have been so difficult to write about that I found myself creating a flow of words that make no sense, but captures the experience well. When read, these often sound like poetic verses. Experiment and have fun with it.
Step 4 – Leave Some Space
If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to leave some space either on this page, or the next, to add comments or insights you have in the future. You’ve put a lot of energy into your journal entry and because you’ve set such a strong intention with it, your mind will be contemplating your experience or question while you’re not actively thinking about it. This is the power of the subconscious. When the answers or insights don’t come right away, you can expect them to pop up sometime in the next day or two after journaling.Perhaps someone will say something to you, and it will be just what you needed to hear. Or you’ll open a book, and read what’s written, and it just happens to relate to your topic or question. Or maybe you’ll have a dream that reveals something to you about your experience. Whatever happens, you’ll want to have some room to right this stuff down.
You may choose to journal every day, or just when you feel the need. Usually, I will set aside 5 minutes after my meditation practice to write down any relevant thoughts, feelings or experiences from my meditation. It’s not always earth shattering or profound. But it gives me a great way to look at where I’ve been. And it often reminds me of just how far I’ve come, especially when I’m feeling down about myself. Returning to read some insight you’ve had, or a meditation experience, can really uplift you and rekindle your interest in improving yourself, keeping you focused on moving forward and continuing to put forth effort on the spiritual path.
Contact me if you have questions or would like to share your journaling experience or insights with me. I look forward to hearing from you!