This month we focus on one of my favorite spiritual practices journaling!
Journaling is one of the most researched, effective ways for people to find personal/ spiritual growth. The analytical parts of our brain get to introspectively think while our creative juices are able to flow into something unique and personal. It's a win win for our brains.
Journaling has been found to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and increase our overall mental health. It allows us to take control of our lives by honing our self awareness and identifying any unhealthy thoughts or patterns that might have developed. For more information about the health benefits check out "Journaling for Mental Health" by the University of Rochester Medical Center.
We are all walking our own personal and yet communal faith journey's. As we figure out this life and what we believe we are constantly bombarded with questions, thoughts, ideas, and experiences. Journaling is an excellent way for us to work through these thoughts and keep track of the journey. The practice of writing helps us collect our thoughts, reflect on our experience, and form a structured way of telling our story. It also allows us to connect within and identify how the spirit is moving in our lives.
So let's look closer at the spiritual practice of journaling by identifying methods and tips on how to get the most out of the practice.
There is no right method to journaling. It's really whatever will work for you and helps you find the divine in your life. To get you started, I have identified below some specific methods people have use in journaling. You can use one or a combination of them. Again its whatever suits you and reaches your goals.
1. Spiritual Story Journal - It can be helpful to have a place to write down the experiences you have with the divine and others that hold meaning in your life. Maybe its lessons you've learned, people you've connected with, or maybe when you were inspired from a moment. Journaling this way allows us to work through those experiences but also keeps as a record for us to go back to and use in our personal ministry.
2. Gratitude Journal - There is tons of research supporting the added benefits of writing down what we are thankful for. Doing this daily or even 1x a week is highly beneficial to our thought processes and how we see the world. When we focus our thoughts on gratitude we become a more thankful person.
3. Free Thought Journal - This is also known as stream of consciousness. It's a creative and completely open way to put our thoughts down in a manner in which we can reflect on them later. We dump what's in our brains or how we are feeling on paper, without any judgment. And since there is really no structure it can be whatever you want it to be.
4. Doodle Journal - Some people find expressing themselves through drawing to be more helpful than writing. A journal with doodles may just be what you need to identify your emotions. Sometimes a combination of the two can be very powerful in fully constructing what we are thinking and feeling.
5. Vision/ Goal Journal - Writing down are goals is a highly effective method proven to help people reach them. Having a journal focused on the vision of our life helps us achieve our dreams by staying focused and moving toward our target destinations. This might be our spiritual vision or it might focused on our passions.
6. One a Day Journal - Another method to journaling is writing down a few words or one sentence a day. This helps those of us who want to journal but do not want to devote the time it takes to write all that we are feeling. A few sentences a day or words that make up our thoughts may be all we need to later reflect and know what we were thinking.
Tips for Getting Started
Hopefully at this point you are contemplating whether to start a journal. So where do you start? Well let's go to the experts. Below is a video by journaling expert Clark Kegley who provides 5 tips on how to get started on a journal.
I think its awesome he puts down the number of days he has until he is 90 in his journals. We only have so many days and we need to live them the best that we can.
I hope the spiritual practice of journaling can help you do just that! Give it a try, work through your discomfort, find God in the midst of your writing, and live your best self.
Thank you for everyone following along! Please comment about your experience with this Spiritual Practice! This week pick up a journal from the store and get writing!
Craig Hidy like the majority of ministers in Community of Christ is a bi-vocational, self sustaining ordained minister. He is a member of the Midlands Mission Center Emporia Team and an ordained Seventy. He and his family, live in Topeka, Kansas.
What is a Seventy?
The Seventy carry out missionary work for the church in close association with other missionary leaders. They represent Christ primarily as ministers of evangelism through witnessing, inviting, and church planting. They especially proclaim and promote Jesus Christ’s invitation to faithful discipleship through vibrant witness, and train individuals and congregations in witness and invitation. They particularly minister with seekers, individually and in groups, to share the gospel in relevant ways and to invite response. They support sacramental ministries by preparing people for baptism and/or confirmation, presiding at sacramental services, and performing most sacraments. They promote community by inviting individuals, households, and families to respond to Christ’s call to discipleship. They promote justice and peacemaking by inviting people to experience all aspects of Christ’s peace through active discipleship. They create ministry partnerships with mission center officers, apostles, elders, and evangelists.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ or Midlands Mission Center. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.