Writing to connect

by Andrea Noel
Journaling is about recording looming questions and instinctual
responses about life. Spiritual journaling is a more thoughtful record of insights, responses, experiences, and feelings about the spiritual life. Journaling, as a regular spiritual practice, can develop deeper awareness; create childlike wonder; permit radical vulnerability; invite unapologetic honesty. The speed and demands of society encourages us to ignore or forget our feelings moment-to-moment. Intentionally setting aside time to pause, recall, feel and write experiences down, allow emotions to surface and the body to release.
When our emotions begin to surface we are able to feel sadness, joy, peace, fear, anxiety, love, pride, anger, or compassion. Our bodies subsequently release stress, toxins, endorphins, adrenalin, energy, pain or pressure. In this view, journaling is a method of getting in touch with self, God and life. Additionally, the pages of a journal are an apt battlefield for the constant struggles experienced between faith and intellect; belief and reason; supernatural occurrences and logic; God and science. I attest that journaling will not solve the problems posed from these struggles, instead helps to create space for noticing our perceptions, projections and preferences regarding these struggles. This spacious awareness, stimulated from practicing regular journaling, invites us to willfully explore the world, letting everything in the world touch our hearts, minds, and spirits. When we allow ourselves to be touched, we can again connect to self, God and life.
Here are just a few tips on keeping a spiritual journal[1].
  1. Begin with silence. Give yourself a few quiet moments before writing, be still, and listen to the sounds around you. You can say a prayer before you begin or simply read scripture.
  2. Keep track of your entries with dates. This can be helpful if you revisit your journals in the future.
  3. Write. Write everything! Note your feelings, insights, questions, images, or dreams. Be open and allow yourself to be creative. Spiritual journaling can be expressed in a variety of ways, for example, photography, drawing, collaging, or playwriting.
  4. Try not to edit. There are no mistakes during spiritual journaling. Say “Goodbye” to your inner critic.
  5. Some journaling techniques that could help include:
    1. Recalling your entire spiritual journey, identify where you were 5 or 10 years ago and notice where you are now.
    2. You could consider your spiritual life through images or metaphors.
    3. Read books to stimulate spiritual awareness or openness and note what ideas you agree or disagree with.
    4. Similarly, you can consider the previous method with sermons, lectures or conversations had with others.
    5. Scripture is a common resource and useful way to begin spiritual journaling.
    6. Lastly, listen for God’s voice and what God wants to say to you.
    7. Be gentle. There are no right or wrong ways to practice spiritual journaling. Be tender as you explore what works best for you.

[1] Haywood, A. (2003). How to keep a spiritual journal.
Retrieved from: http://home.earthlink.net/~haywoodm/SpiritualJournal.html