Writing as Spiritual Practice: 11 Ways to Start and Continue
Talking to paper is talking to the Divine. It is talking to an ear that will understand even the most difficult things. Paper is infinitely patient.… The white paper is waiting. Each time you scratch on it, you trace part of yourself, and thus part of the world, and thus part of the grammar of the universe.
—Burghild Nina Holzer, A Walk Between Heaven and Earth
Three rules to follow:
- Date every entry
- Forget the other “rules”
- Trust what comes.
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1. Find your optimum time, space and rhythm.
There may be a time of day that is best for you. There may be a place indoors or out that is most conducive to spiritual reflection. You may want to have a sacred text nearby, or a ritual of pulling an angel or oracle card, or candles, incense, herb tea.
2. Keep your journal or notebook nearby during meditation.
When you have completed your meditation, jot down any awareness, intuitive flashes, images, sensations. It is fine to use staccato language, bullet lists, phrases. Later, if you desire, you can use these notes as springboards for journal entries.
3. Keep your notebook or journal near your bed at night
Open it to a fresh page, with a small flashlight and pen nearby. When you awaken with a dream, record it immediately. Try to minimize movement to preserve dream recall.
4. Incorporate meditative writing as part of your regular spiritual practice.
Set aside 15-20 minutes to write. Center yourself with breathing. Let yourself begin with a ritual phrase such as My heart speaks to me… or In the silence of this moment… or This is what wants to be known.
5. Embrace the Dialogue technique
Neale Donald Walsh’s best-selling Conversations with God series are rooted in a standard practice of journal therapy: The Dialogue technique, a written conversation in which you write both parts. Write your own conversations (Dialogues) with God, your Higher Power, your Soul, your Inner Wisdom or Guardian Angel, a patron saint or any spiritual guide. Allow yourself to be surprised and delighted.
6. Immerse yourself in the poetry of ecstatic mystics.
Consider Rumi or Kabir, or contemporary nature mystics such as Mary Oliver, or of contemplative poets such as David Whyte. Write in response to a poem that speaks to you.
7. Keep a prayer journal.
You may want to write your prayers on the right-hand page, reserving the left page for updates and feedback about how the prayer has been answered or deepened.
8. Create a wisdom journal jar or basket.
Fill it with a few dozen questions, journal prompts or quotations from the great teachers and philosophers. Draw a card when you’re in need of journal inspiration. Keep the questions open-ended, such as What is my next step with ——? How can I stay open-hearted? What do I notice about my progress? What do I hear when I listen deeply? What is my next right action? Where does my breath take me right now? What does my Spirit want from me?
9. Access wisdom held in the body.
To access wisdom held in the body, write immediately following yoga, tai chi, ecstatic dance or another movement meditation. Or write a Dialogue with your body, or a particular body part.
10. Read back your own writing.
Watch for patterns, themes, insights and awareness. Read your own writing out loud to hear nuances of meaning and beauty.
11. Join a contemplative writing circle
Allow yourself to be guided into deepened writing, as you are witnessed by others who receive your words without criticism or judgment.
Which of these 11 ways to engage in writing as a spiritual practice speaks to you?