Writing bridges the inner and outer worlds and connects the paths of action and reflection. We sit down, face the receptive blankness of a piece of paper or a computer screen, pull our thoughts together, and begin to write.
Writing is sorting. Writing down the stream of consciousness gives us a way to respect the mind, to choose among and harness thoughts, to interact with and change the contents of who we think we are. And that is what the spiritual journey is: a major change, over time, in who we think we are, followed by a corresponding change in what we believe ourselves capable of doing.
Life’s Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest
I have been journaling all my life; since the first penciled scribblings in my little diary with the plastic cover. I treasured this diary and the experience of being “just me”. I was a faithful writer and after each session I locked the little lock and hid the book underneath my mattress or in the depths of a dresser drawer. I wonder sometimes where it is and if it got lost in the shuffle of my growing up years or got thrown away.
I think the only time I didn’t journal was during my first marriage. I was so involved with trying to make sense of my life and I literally didn’t know who I was. I was consumed by my husband and had no time to myself. I started writing again back in the early 80’s. Someone had given me a journal as a gift, so I began to sort out my feelings and experiences on paper once again. There were the years in China Bend which were for the most part idyllic as the journals reflect. The beauty and simplicty of that time have been such a blessing and a precious gift that I hold close to my heart.
When I was living at our family ranch I experienced some trauma and here was no other way I could cope with what was going on. Not even my best friends could totally understand. I was deeply depressed and felt isolated. So I kept journaling, this time in spiral notebooks as I felt those were much more freeing. They had more room and I could write lots and quickly. They were barely legible but they served their purpose. I have since disposed of these journals.
There was a pattern of my behavior that emerged I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I only knew that I was miserable and that I felt repressed and spiritually claustrophobic. I later learned that I was co dependent and also I had not totally resolved being separated from my two oldest children, but this was only one aspect. My self esteem was destroyed and I was struggling to get it back. I kept blaming myself for my failed relationships. I am amazed at how well my children have weathered all of this.
One of my friends gave me a book on spirititual healing through journaling. This was a wonderful gift and a wonderful discovery. It is called Journey Notes. This was the validation that I needed to continue.
I discovered Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” which is now one of my writer’s Bibles. The stream of consciousness…..there was no one to please, not even myself. The very act of freeing my mind was the healing path I had stumbled upon and have been on ever since.
Poetry had its voice now and then during those years as well, and when I was given a computer my life changed drastically. I discovered blogging, and now post nearly every single day. I am now unafraid. Whoever said that practice makes perfect certainly had the right idea. But of course then I ask, “What is perfect?” Perfect for what? Whom? I am discovering it’s all about the journey.