Anyone have any experience with journaling for spiritual growth?
I started journaling as soon as I learned to write and have done it ever since. There is nothing better for spiritual growth than journaling.
Writing spiritual journal does much good on me. It is also good to review the journal, to know how far one has traveled. Past mountain top experiences help re-confirm one’s faith. Past valley experiences bring back the memory of God’s grace at the time, and inspire one with new meaning and perspective while looking back…
I did for many years. I noticed a pattern of writing concerning whether God was listening or even there. It was, in many ways, my lone prayer–that I would believe.
Thanks for the feedback!!! I have found out how importand journaling is in the last few weeks. It has been tremendously helpful in getting my thoughts sorted out. It has been a key component of my stress relief. I sometimes hate to use words like “stress relief” becasue it makes it sound like I am reducing faith to pop psychology status. But I know that if I am to grow toward being the man God intended me to be I have to learn to take of myself. Including stress relief.
Does anyone have any tips? I have read that 20 minutes before bed is good. Sometimes I like early morning because I am the most alert then. I have read that some people write to a specific topic or question. I don’t know if that is really journaling though.
I was very happy to see this question, as I have the same question.
This past weekend, I went on a silent retreat at the local Loyola retreat house. I had done this retreat last year as well, but as I was preparing this year, for some reason I bought a journal at the local dollar store. I didn’t know if I would use it, but I had it just in case. I don’t usually write much, so this was something different for me.
From the moment I entered the retreat house, I started writing. I would write in the chapel (but not during the instruction or the masses), during meals (it was a silent retreat, so we were to be secluded from the other retreatants), in my room, and out on the grounds. I wrote and wrote, putting down the thoughts that I had, with a lot of prayers to God to help me understand my thoughts and how I could grow spiritually.
I wasn’t sure if the journaling was getting in the way of my prayers, so I stopped writing for one afternoon and evening. During that time, I found that I really could not pray. I tried, but I felt very dry. The next morning, I wrote and wrote again, putting down all that I had gone through the night before.
I’m still not sure if the journaling got in the way of my prayers (my mind was constantly chattering as I wrote, perhaps not letting God speak to me) or if it helped my prayers. I’m interested in what others have to say about this.
Thank you for posting your question.
this was also my experience on my first Ignatian retreat, and during the several years in which I made that retreat every summer at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Parma Ohio (will never be able to thank Fr. Clem and the other priests for their work for me and thousands of others). While I have been journaling all my life–I am a writer first and foremost–this is where it became a spiritual practice. Somewhere along the line I added simple drawings with colored pencil from time to time (I have absolutely no art talent these amount to little more than doodles that have meaning only for me). I think it is like the rosary, it quiets the mind, once those thoughts are on paper, so that the deeper work of prayer can commence. Personally I found it most helpful to put the pen down and end the session with quiet time in the dark for at least a few minutes.
In my later years I have stopped journalling almost entirely except during lectio divina mainly because arthritis makes it so hard to write, but also because I am “journalled out” and my prayer time is much less this mode and much more the silent. During lectio I almost never write my own thoughts any more, but write in one small leather bound book my brother gave me, only the actual word or verse from scripture that resonates at that time. An exception is when I am praying and discerning a problem or decision or working through a relationship issue. Then I journal like crazy. I also have the writer’s habit of waking up at night with an idea and writing while it is still fresh (these notes I have to type up in the morning while I can still read them, they are useless later, completely illegible).
yes for most people especially those who are very verbal journalling can be an excellent and useful spiritual habit for most of their life.
Thank you for that input. It is very helpful. I’ve been asking God to help me learn to pray, and it seems that the nudge to buy the journal and my plentiful writing during the retreat is leading me toward his answer. I’ll keep at it and see what happens.
I learn a lot from the other people in this forum.
Here’s some tips!:
I recommend using cheap notebooks. Fancy journals tend to “demand” fancy thoughts. Your journal is only going to be useful if you use it!
I like writing in the morning, but before bed can be good too. I don’t think it matters so much when you write though. One thing that can help though is to time yourself. For me, 20 minutes is a good session length, but of course you can shorten or lengthen that to fit you needs. Timed writing sessions help keep you focused.
I recommend using smaller notebooks that can fit in your purse (or if you don’t have a purse, maybe one that can fit in your pocket would be good) I get most of my journal writing done in the spare moments throughout the day. It’s a good idea to have your notebook handy just in case inspiration strikes.
On the last page of my journal I like to keep a list of writing prompts. These could be words or questions or whatever else. I like to be able to just jot down a topic that I want to write about in more detail later. Then, if you sit down at a writing session, you never have to worry about not having anything to say.
I like to use “fancy” notebook journals made well of good material. For me, it makes what I write more sacred, sacred books for sacred thoughts. My journals are around 8 1/2" by 6." and leather or cloth. I treat them like holy books. I have tried using cheaper notebooks like spiral ones, but I just could not get into journaling with them.
I usually write in the morning while waiting for mass to begin or during adoration time. My writing usually comes out of my prayer or readings, whether from scripture or other spiritual books. Sometimes my director gives me things to write about. I also use my journal to work out situations in my life that may be bothering me. I also write prayers in my journal, and petition God for needs.
Journaling is absolutely a great idea. And I agree about not using fancy notebooks. I started journaling at the end of January. It’s great but sometimes, I feel like I have no idea what to say, so just write what’s on your heart.
And don’t worry about making erasures