If you told me 10 years ago that keeping a journal would become a profoundly spiritual practice for me, I wouldn’t be able to smother the laughter. After all, journals are simply crush confessionals for teenage girls, no?
Today I give a warm chuckle at that guy, because for all of the other practices I’ve tried, journaling has become one of the most profound and reliable ways to stay in touch with myself. Even if I don’t spill my guts every single day, when I do I find such deep truths in the act of filling its pages that it jolts me back to my deepest self.
You probably don’t believe me right now. Journaling? How does that qualify as a sacred science? It certainly doesn’t sound as exotic, adventurous or as radically life changing as working with a powerful shaman.
I know, I know. It may not seem that daring or esoteric, but it is a simple practice that can be of enormous benefit to those of us looking to heal ourselves. Very often, the answers we need sit right before us in the most mundane acts, and after all, it’s not every day that you can seek out traditional jungle healing.
I’ve come to believe that for most of us, our internal landscape can often be as mysterious and untouched as the deepest parts of the Amazon itself. Every day, we are bludgeoned with myriad external stresses and stimuli, and they often come at us so quickly that we become strangers to our internal reality. Simply put, with all the distractions we get hung up on, we gradually lose sight of what’s going on inside of us, and that’s where the trouble starts.
I think it’s safe to say that many of us who seek healing through plant medicine are looking to bridge the gap between our conscious, waking reality and our innermost selves with a breakthrough of some sort, a violent but loving re-incorporation of our buried, deepest truths and strengths into the wounded lives we live every day. Even if you came to plant medicine hoping to cure a disease, it’s likely that you have a growing suspicion that your ailment may have origins beyond the material realm.
If this is all indeed the case, doesn’t it make sense that anything which keeps us in touch with our core selves has the capacity to heal?
If you believe this to be true, then something as seemingly inconsequential as keeping a journal can in fact be extremely powerful.
That is, of course, if you do it correctly.
More than just a catalog of your daily accomplishments and most miserable failures, your journal has to be kept with the correct intention, that being to forge and maintain a link to your deepest emotions, motivations and triggers. Brutal, unflinching honesty is required. You have to write the things that you’d even be afraid to say out loud in a cabin by yourself on a lonely mountaintop somewhere. By taking stock of these turbulent, troubling feelings, you’re likely getting to the root of your problems, be they trauma in your past, a nagging inner critic that sabotages everything you do and wish for, or an outmoded belief that does you an extreme disservice.
Mind you, the revelations of journal writing certainly aren’t as apocalyptic as an ayahuasca ceremony; a tidal wave of your deepest, hidden truths doesn’t suddenly surge forth, demolishing the all too fragile structure of what you thought your life was. Instead, what emerges from your journal’s pages is a steady trickle of truth to keep you tuned in to what’s really going on inside of you.
It’s essentially maintenance work. Internal up-keep. You’ll be surprised what comes spilling out of you.
In that regard, it’s a little like meditation; by creating an output for both the conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings that play bumper cars in your head and heart all day, you create space to return to your inner stillness, your clear, unsullied connection to spirit and all that is.
In any way intrigued? Ready to begin? Don’t make it too complicated. Buy a book, any book, or even open your word processor program on your computer. Fill a page every day with whatever comes barreling out, even if it’s a couple paragraphs of the phrase“I have no idea what I’m doing.” It’ll soon give way to something deeper.
With time, your journal will become a map of your emotional terrain, even the scary places that you’ve been avoiding. It might even become a grimoire, a book of personal spells in which you’ve uncovered and documented personal processes that help you work past your most self-defeating patterns. Less glamorously, it might just become a garbage bin for all the bad stuff you have going on inside.
The point is, it’ll become whatever you need it to be. Give it a go. It’s worth a shot, no?