Spiritual journaling is the powerful practice of keeping a record of your inner journey.
The purpose is to explore your inner world and self, including patterns that emerge and breakthroughs and challenges you experience in your emotional and spiritual life.
As someone who recently started keeping a spiritual journal myself, I’m going to take a look at the best ways to do this and the benefits you’ll see from spiritual journaling.
Explore your inner landscape
These days more and more of us work alone or in small teams, often online.
Many of my friends and family work from home or work partly remote and partly in an office, while others piece together service and other jobs to make ends meet.
Many people I know also live alone.
In fact, more individuals currently live alone than at any other time in history.
There’s plenty of time for reflection and getting in touch with our spiritual side and personal evolution.
But the irony is that with all our digital devices, screens and smartphone apps, many of us rarely truly disconnect and get in touch with ourselves.
Spiritual journaling is a way to do that.
The practice of spiritual journaling is a way to begin to truly explore who you are and what you want out of life.
It’s a way to begin discovering common themes in your experiences and find meaning where you might have thought there was just chaos.
“Regular journaling tends to focus only on surface-level thoughts and feelings whereas spiritual journaling tends to dive deep into one’s core fears, hopes, dreams, discoveries, and inspirations.”
The key to spiritual journaling is learning to free your mind from the idea of what you “should” be or are “supposed” to be.
The key is to begin opening up to the idea that you have an authentic self that exists beyond all the labels.
This brings me to the next point…
Free your mind, write your soul
Spiritual journaling and freeing your mind often go hand-in-hand.
They can be a powerful symbiotic process:
You write your deepest thoughts and feelings at the same time as you also become aware and accepting of how to let go of limiting beliefs.
The perfect accompaniment to starting a spiritual journal is also checking out this free masterclass from the shaman Rudá Iandê on how to overcome limiting spiritual beliefs.
Rudá brings up some powerful lessons about how to avoid dead-end spiritual paths and fake gurus.
He knows because in the past he also got sucked into New Age ideologies that led him down a disempowering path.
But unlike those who want to tell you what to do or “fix” you, Rudá’s emphasis is on the immense power you already have within and how to unlock it through becoming captain of your own ship.
And now let’s take a closer look at ways to keep a spiritual journal and stay engaged and active in the process.
Getting started in spiritual journaling
Keeping a spiritual journal doesn’t have many strict rules.
But there are some helpful starting guides and ideas for getting this journal started and keeping engaged with it.
Start by buying a notebook and a pen. It can be fancy or basic, aesthetically dazzling or unremarkable.
There are no rules on that score, only that you buy a notebook and pen you find easy to write with.
If you prefer to keep a journal on your phone or computer that’s also fine, although I personally find that having a physical notebook and pen makes it more of a ritual for me.
I also use a fountain pen, which I find pleasingly “classic” and elegant to write with.
“Neural science is pretty unanimous at this point; our brains benefit from analog input. Human beings (in general) learn better if we write our notes by hand.
“The same is true for journaling as a spiritual (or self discovery) practice.”
Try your best to write at least a short entry every day in your journal, focusing on how you feel, patterns you see in your life, challenges you’ve noticed, people you like or dislike and what inspires, scares or confuses you.
Think of your journal as a completely non-judgmental person who’s listening to you and understanding what you write without judging why you’re writing it or whether it’s “good enough” to note down.
If you want to write it down it’s good enough!
Why are you doing this?
It’s very helpful if you have a big “why” about your reason for spiritual journaling.
Try titling your journal so that the purpose of it is in the name.
My journal is called: “Being At Home With Myself” and is about self-integration, self-acceptance and self-empowerment.
Other examples could be things like:
“Learning To Love the Unknown,” “Finding Beauty in Life,” “Learning To Laugh,” or “Living In the Question.”
It’s all about putting down an intention and main purpose or direction of your journal so that you’re constantly reminded of it in little ways.
The magic of a spiritual journal is that you can’t ever know what will come of it: it’s a journey.
But by putting an intention around it you help guide the type of journey you will have and develop much more self-awareness, engagement with others in your life.
It will also help facilitate spiritual awakening in many other areas of your experiences and life, including in the struggles themselves.
Another great technique for spiritual journaling after you have the materials and the main purpose as your title is to use daily or weekly prompts as inspiration.
Working from prompts
The theme of your journal contained in the title is a great thing to keep in mind and have written in large letters on the front.
But within that theme can be a lot of different subsections and ideas and experiences to explore.
That’s why working from weekly or even monthly prompts can be extremely helpful and fruitful.
Here are some examples of great prompts to work with:
1) Observe a plant or flower that you find beautiful or which impacts you in some way.
What emotions does it bring up in you? What thoughts? Do the colors remind you of anything?
Does it seem like a metaphor in some way?
What would you write if you had to write a quick summary of the “Life of the Blue Orchid” or “Life of the Rhubarb?”
2) Look at a painting or image that speaks to you and write about how it makes you feel and what it makes you think of.
How does the painting make you feel? Does it bring up any memories, painful or joyful?
Does it fill you with confusion, indifference? What would you paint if you were asked to show what your soul looks like or feels like right now for you?
3) Ask yourself questions that bring you into contact with spiritual thoughts and ponderings. For example:
What do I fear?
What am I hopeful about?
What does God mean to me, or the divine?
Who have I met who embodies love for me?
What unhelpful or toxic patterns do I notice in my behavior and reactions to life?
What empowering and helpful patterns do I notice in my behavior and reactions to life?
4) Meditate and then write on a poem, holy verse or quotation.
Find a holy verse, poem or quotation that speaks to you.
It could be from the Torah, Bhagavad Gita, Qur’an, sayings of Buddha, poetry of Federico Lorca or the New Testament…
It might be a passage that really resonates with you from the Tao te Ching, or a quotation from Michael Jordan or Michelangelo.
It’s really up to you: the key is to find a passage that really speaks to you and is memorable. Then meditate on it for a while and write down what you think about it.
You may struggle with the passage or disagree, or you may be confused by it: write that, too! It’s all part of the journey…
5) Think of an upsetting conflict or joyful friendship or relationship in your life.
What do you notice about the situation?
Were there early signs that the people, events or aspects of this conflict or joyous time would become what they did?
Is there a common thread between this and other things which you clashed with or resonated with in life?
What lessons can you see in what happened or what benefits?
6) Listen to a piece of music that speaks to your soul.
What do you feel?
What images come to mind when you hear this music?
What thoughts do you have or memories?
How does the music make you feel about yourself and your life? Does it bring up fantasies or fears about the future or regrets or nostalgia about the past?
Write it down!
Even if it’s just a few sentences, write them from the heart.
Remember that it’s all about quality and truth more than quantity or what you feel you “should” write.
7) Consider integrating your dream journal and spiritual journal.
Many cultures and religious and spiritual paths around the world consider our dreams to be journeys into the spiritual world.
If you keep a dream journal, consider making it part of your spiritual journal.
If you don’t keep a dream journal, consider writing down thoughts and memories of dreams you have in your spiritual journal.
They can bring you valuable insights and breakthroughs and are worth thinking about in a spiritual way.
Going beneath the surface
The above prompts are very useful for making progress in spiritual journaling.
In addition, there are some helpful tips to stick to in making this process work to your full benefit.
Let’s dive into some additional tips for going beneath the surface and getting the most out of spiritual journaling.
Journal in the morning
The best time to journal is in the morning.
Whether or not you remember your dreams, the morning is a time to get down your thoughts and work with a prompt before you’ve gotten into the work day.
It’s also best to do this before looking at any screens or tuning in to media and the “world” yet.
If possible, sit in a tranquil place indoors or outdoors and breathe deeply for several minutes, then writing down your thoughts and feelings, using the prompts if you wish.
Keep it short and sweet
Many people face challenges in spiritual journaling because they feel pressured to write a lot.
If this is how you’re feeling, you’re not alone.
Try to ignore this voice in your head telling you that you need to live up to a certain standard or produce a certain amount.
A big part of freeing your mind and benefiting from spiritual journaling is learning to let go of the expectations and ideas of what you “should” be doing.
Don’t worry about contradictions
In the course of spiritual journaling you’re going to have many different things you write.
Even if it’s mostly short journal entries, you’re going to be in a different frame of mind and heart space from day to day.
That’s natural, and it’s all part of the process.
In life itself we often experience contradictions such as liking somebody but also sometimes feeling resentful of them.
It’s the same with a journal, which is why it’s important to allow contradictions or tangents to be what they are.
Whether they “resolve” or not, hold out the possibility that the paradoxes and conflicts within your entries are useful and worthwhile, even just to teach you patience…
Keep your old journals once they’re full
Keeping a spiritual journal in an actual notebook is partly about keeping the record once you’re done.
Put your journals on a shelf or in a drawer, a locked drawer if you want them to be extra secure and private.
The point of keeping these journals is to maintain a record and have a visual representation of what you’ve noted down as well as material to turn back and look at when you vaguely remember going through something similar or related before.
After months and years you’ll start to notice deeper patterns and issues emerge, which is where turning back into your records can enrich your current journals a lot.
Trust the process
The process of spiritual journaling is even more valuable than the “results.”
The key is to think of this almost like working out or going to the gym.
You won’t see results if you think about what you realized or what changed in the past few days.
But if you spiritually journal for months or even years you’ll notice life-changing things about your perception of yourself, other people, life and love.
It’s all about allowing the process to work and the self-awareness to deepen.
Understanding how spiritual growth happens
Spiritual growth and awakening is different for each individual, but it tends to follow certain paths.
Spiritual awakening can often hurt and leave you feeling alienated from the person you once were.
But like growing pains or arising out of a cocoon, this is all part of the process of essentially becoming more conscious and less ego-based.
The progression you notice in your spiritual journaling will often follow something along these lines:
Awareness of conditioning and limitation
In your journals you’re likely to notice the various ways in which you’re lying to yourself or others.
You may also realize ways you’re holding yourself back or clinging to outer events, people or possibilities that are out of your control.
You may ask questions about who you really are and what you want out of life…
You may remember traumas and triumphs from the past and question how they contributed to the person you are today…
Conditioning loosening its grip
As you continue to journal you are likely to feel conditioning loosening its grip.
You become more open to asking questions about who you really are and what you want out of life.
You become less attached to the answers or getting the answers you want.
Fearing the unknown or ego loss
As the conditioning loosens you’re also likely to also feel fear, however.
What if my “spiritual journey” leaves me stranded somewhere without a way back?
What if I become so free-thinking that I don’t really know where I fit in this world?
Seeking new ways to feel secure
You may notice this throughout your journal, namely grasps at “filling the void” with material things, addictions, people or distractions.
This isn’t “bad” or anything, it’s human.
But you’ll also notice it corresponds with a feeling of emptiness afterwards.
This then leads to either cycling back through older states and trying to resubmerge into conditioning or else moving onto…
Seeking to give more than you take
As you find that old patterns aren’t giving you the payoff and pleasure they once did, you become more outward-looking.
This is where you seek to be of service and contribute in unique and meaningful ways in the world and to those around you.
Feeling purposeful and committed in life
Finally you may notice that the ups and downs in your spiritual journal begin to center on a purpose you find in your life or a number of purposes.
Your ego and desire for recognition and imprinting on the world integrates with your desire to be of use and give back and you begin to feel a spiritual state where you are both feeling like yourself and also being of service.
As you stick with the spiritual journaling process, don’t be surprised to see yourself cycle back and forth between many of these stages and other unique experiences you may have.
This isn’t a linear process nor is it a struggle between “purity” and “illusion.”
Your egoic self is real and has a purpose but the point is to begin to integrate it into an empowering and authentic place in the world rather than a fearful place.
If you stay engaged with your spiritual journal you’ll notice definite benefits like those I’ve mentioned above, along with many unique benefits to your own journey.
Just remember that even on the days you feel sure you have nothing to write, write down something. It could even just be “I feel indifferent and don’t see the point in keeping a spiritual journal, but I’m sitting with that feeling and writing it out here.”
“Like everything in life, embarking on your spiritual path is a choice… Everything you do is a spiritual act if you do it with awareness. Find your path and inner peace.
“Be regular and disciplined with your spiritual practice.”