Since I was able to hold a pen, I’ve been keeping a journal. Literally, my first diaries were just collections of squiggly lines. Throughout my childhood and my teen years, journaling was a way for me to document what was happening in my life: what I wanted to be when I grew up, who I had a crush on, and on a deeper level, all the feelings I had to process during my parents’ divorce. It became my main outlet for understanding and working through the world around me and my role in it. And it was also a place I could vent and get all my anger and teenage angst out on a page.
Only now, in my mid-20s, has journaling become more of a spiritual practice. Instead of just writing about what’s happening and what I might be struggling with, I started to realize that I was finding wisdom in my experiences—and this was a game changer for me. Instead of feeling stuck in my circumstances, I was able to take a step back and realize what I was learning. For instance, when I went through a rough breakup, I wrote about it, and at the end, I was pouring out the lesson I learned from the experience. “I deserve to be loved and treated with respect.”
A few months later, I came home from work, sat down with my journal and started writing about how I suddenly felt this strong urge to go to Peru, and that I might need to quit my job and go volunteer there—even though it sounded crazy to my rational mind (and to most of my loved ones when I actually followed up on this plan). What I realized is that this new voice that was developing in me was my intuition. That in my practice of writing every day, I was able to tap into a deeper sense of wisdom and direction that existed within me, beyond the surface-level worries and happenings of my day-to-day life. For the first time in a while, I felt like I was getting in touch with what I truly wanted in life, making decisions that felt like “me”—instead of what everyone expected of me.
Journaling has now become a key part of my spiritual practice. Every day (usually in the morning, but sometimes in the evening), I sit down with my journal and I write whatever is on my mind, usually about a challenge I’m dealing with, like when I knew I needed to move, but wasn’t sure where to go. It’s a time for me to pause and reflect on not only what I’m experiencing, but also how I’m feeling. Often, I find that when I sit down and write something out, the answer I’m looking for comes naturally as I’m writing. For instance, when I got to the bottom of the nagging feeling that I needed to move, I discovered that I’d always wanted to live in California, but had been avoiding taking the leap because I knew it was out of my comfort zone. But by sitting with and working through my feelings, I was able to get the answer I needed.
I use a few daily quote books (one I inherited from my grandmother called “Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much” and another called “366 Days of Celtic Wisdom”) for inspiration. If there’s a quote about slowing down, I’ll write about how I can do that and what that looks like in my own life. For example, if the inspiration for the day is about why rest is necessary, I’ll write about how and when I can integrate more time to slow down, maybe by taking an hour at lunch to go to a park and read, or to take a bath before bed.
Journaling helps me to dig deep and uncover what’s really going on in my life. It’s a chance for me to connect directly with the more soulful, intuitive part of myself. And with the encouragement of this daily practice, I’ve made some BIG changes in my life, like creating my own career path, traveling to different places, and discovering who I am and how I can show up each day as a better version of myself.
If you want try journaling as a part of your spiritual practice, here are a few writing prompts to help you get started:
What do I really love about my life?
When am I the happiest?
What makes me get totally lost in the moment?
What soothes and calms me?
When do I feel the most at peace?
Who are my favorite people to be with?
What are my favorite ways to express my creativity?
For daily check-In
How am I feeling today?
How would I like to feel today?
What can I do to get to the feeling I want for today?
For spiritual guidance
What do I really want to do, deep down in my soul?
What would my life look like if I gave myself permission to do that?
Originally published on May 28, 2019.