Spiritual journaling isn't that much different from regular journaling or keeping a diary.
Now, it isn't quite the same, either. Unlike keeping a regular journal or a diary, the purpose of journaling your spiritual insights is more to help you along in your own personal development. It’s a journal that you keep exclusively for introspection and discovering unknown inclinations, attitudes, beliefs or habits that you might have, but are unaware of.
Spiritual journaling can contribute enormously to our spiritual and personal awareness. And increasing our spiritual awareness helps us to improve ourselves as people and thus, ultimately, to improve our lives as well. Because, obviously, what we have and what we are inside is reflected on the outside in the quality of our lives and relationships.
Some of the possible, creative uses that you could find for a spiritual journal may include:
In this article I’m going to talk a bit about these last two points.
Recording Our Thoughts in a Spiritual Journal
It's true, we always have hundreds of millions of thoughts every day. These thoughts flitter about to and fro and it's very hard to catch a hold of them and become aware of what you are thinking about all the time.
However, if you were to make the effort of jotting these thoughts down in your spiritual journal, you might start to notice a pattern in your thinking. You might become aware of the fact that, perhaps, you often say to yourself: "life is tough", or "all bosses are stupid".
Or perhaps it isn't really any one phrase in particular that you repeat to yourself over and over. Maybe it's just a pattern. For example, you might discover that you have a habit of thinking constantly, "What if this terrible thing or that terrible thing were to happen?"
There could be many variations on that theme. For example, in the morning you might think, "What if my child has an accident?" Later on in the day you might catch yourself with a, "What if when I go to the meeting I forget everything I was supposed to say, and I say something ridiculous instead?"
Then at night it might be a, "What if it rains tomorrow during my child's birthday party?"
You could walk around all your life totally oblivious to these self-sabotaging patterns and habits. But if you start up a spiritual journal about them, you might find that you are paying more attention to whatever it is that you are journaling about, in this case your regular thoughts.
Why is it So Important to Know Your Thoughts?
Thoughts are things.
You may have heard this expression at one time or another. Well, most expressions that are out there have a reason for existing, and this one is no different.
Thoughts are indeed things. They have weight. They have invisible substance.
You can feel it when a roomful of people are all thinking gloomy, doomsday thoughts. There is a palpable air in the room of foreboding and hopelessness.
And you can tell when everyone is happy and optimistic. It just feels like a big ray of sunshine is bursting fiercely out over everyone.
If you happen to be capable of visualizing auras, you would actually be able to "see" thoughts sometimes.
People who are clairvoyant have said that sometimes when they look at a person's aura, they can see the thoughts written out floating near the person's head. Other times they don't actually see words, but just the images that the thought conjurs up.
Sad Thoughts Are Like a Gloomy Sky
I'm not naturally clairvoyant and I don't usually see thoughts in people's auras. However on occasion I've perceived a sad thought. It looked like a stormy sky, pressing down towards the ground and holding people captive, reducing their capacity for thinking straight and obscuring their vision of the many options that they really had in life.
Of course, I'm not talking about a fleeting thought that might pass through your mind once or twice in your lifetime. I'm talking about things that you think of over and over and over again.
Each time that you think a certain thought, it starts to take on substance. If the thought is immediately banished and never thought again, it would disappear like a wisp of smoke into thin air.
But if you think that same thought again, and again, and then again, the thought will start to become more "solid". It will start to take on a definitive shape and form. It will become more "visible".
It will also start to weigh itself down on you. It may cloud your judgement and prevent you from seeing clearly. You might almost have an oppressive feeling from that thought. And it will become harder and harder for you to avoid thinking that thought.
Why We Always Think the Same Thoughts
The reason for that is because, on the one hand, that thought is ever present, floating around about you, easy for you to grasp a hold of and think it again. Although you may not be clairvoyant, not be capable of "seeing the invisible", unconsciously you are aware that the thought is there near you, and you may find yourself dragging it towards you more and more.
Another reason why it gets ever harder to avoid thinking a certain thought, or a certain type of thought, that you are accustomed to thinking, is just simply because of the force of habit. You're used to thinking that thought. It's easy to think it.
So you think it again.
Thought Patterns in Our Lives
Now, here is where spiritual journaling can help you. As you start to pay more attention to your thoughts and become more conscious of your thinking patterns, as you start to acquire the habit of writing them down, you will be able to notice the tendencies that you have.
Perhaps you very often alternate positive, optimistic notes to yourself with pessimistic ones. Or you may find yourself frequently censoring yourself and chiding yourself, saying, "Tsk tsk! We shouldn't think such nasty/sinful/pessimistic/negative thoughts now!"
However, that which is denied and oppressed does NOT go away. It has a bad habit of popping up over and over again, destroying our lives when we least expect it.
These undesired, negative musings do not lose any of their force or strength just simply because we refuse to see them. On the contrary, precisely because we do refuse to observe them or pay any attention to them, that gives them the freedom, so to speak, to basically run wild and wreak havoc in our lives.
If you had an enemy lurking about and threatening you, wouldn't you prefer to know just exactly where he is at every moment, so you can keep his movements under control and prevent him from attacking you by surprise?
Spiritual journaling can help you do just that.
Since I said that thoughts do not go away because you deny them, they merely dig their way underground but continue to rule potently behind the scenes, well, then wouldn't it only make sense for you to uncover these unhealthy thoughts and uproot them from your life and your psyche?
That is one of the purposes of spiritual journaling. With the help of your spiritual journal, you can write down your thoughts as they occur to you.
Once they are out in the open, they can no longer hide from you and sabotage you unawares.
So What Should You Do if You Discover Negative Thoughts?
If you should discover negative thoughts – and who won’t – don’t sweat it! Everyone has negative thoughts. We're human, after all!
If you should discover the same negative thought over and over, however, or the same types of negative thoughts, then that's a good thing!
That just means that this is an area of your (inner) life that you need to do some more work on.
There are many techniques out there to help you overcome general negative tendencies, a leaning towards pessimistic attitudes, anxieties and difficulties with excessive worrying, or any other type of personal problem that you might uncover within yourself through your spiritual journaling.
Once again, don't worry. Whatever you find yourself struggling with, there ARE solutions.
You have a variety of choices, anything from seeking out counselling or traditional psychotherapy, to simply resorting to the advice of psychologists. You might want to investigate the possibility of receiving personal coaching or trying out any number of healing techniques that are available out there. These could include Bach Flower Remedies, aromatherapy, colour therapy, a "Soul Realignment" reading and healing session, practising spiritual affirmations, polarity therapy, Theta Healing...... Well the list could go on and on.
I mean, you could even go out and hammer away a bit on your pillow. Or on your best friend. (But don't expect your best friend to put up with this too often!) Well, seriously, sometimes it does also help for us to find a good friend to vent out on – occasionally!
Another Valuable Way to Use Spiritual Journaling
Just as you can journal your thoughts in order to improve yourself and make your life better, so you can also use spiritual journaling to record your feelings and your emotional reactions.
That doesn't mean just rushing out and tearing into the pages of your journal with a "I hate Brian!" Well, you could start with that.
But afterwards, you might want to ponder if you always have problems with people like Brian, if people like Brian abound in your life. If you have a tendency to react in an undesirable manner towards the things that Brian does that get on your nerves.
For example, you might discover that you tend to hit Brian a lot (although on the other hand I imagine it’s possible that you might not really need a journal in order to realize this). You might discover that you resort frequently to emotionally blackmailing Brian.
Or perhaps, on the contrary, you simply have a tendency to let Brian et al. walk all over you and use you as a doormat. And therefore, you're not really angry at Brian but rather, at yourself, for letting Brian do what he does to you.
All of these tendencies, which make themselves known to you through your practice of spiritual journaling, reveal aspects of yourself that you may have been unaware of until now. And as they say, knowledge is power.
Now that you know these things about yourself, you can do something about them.
Unruly, overwhelming emotions and uncontrollable emotional reactions CAN be controlled. In future articles, I hope to write about some of the techniques and modalities that exist out there to help people improve in different areas of themselves and their lives.
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