“At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it IS a journey”
What is the journey? Generally, when people are on a self-journey, they are on a spiritual journey – a journey of personal growth. It is a conscious decision to take action to improve yourself – often it is started, or triggered, as a result of a negative or challenging event in your life. And it takes time, learning with each experience. Some say journeying is a lifetime event. As the Got Questions website says, ‘At the heart of the spiritual journey is the understanding that it is a journey’ – that you are making the effort to know yourself, to humble yourself to your own conscience, and that you are aware that life is a learning experience.
The journey must be done alone. Sure, interactions with people, animals, and spirit, and asking for assistance, and participating in counselling and group sessions, and all other means, is part of the journey. But, importantly, it is a journey that takes you deep into yourself, says the Awake and Align website: ‘You don’t need a prayer book, beads, mantras … you just need yourself, acting in the moment from a place of sincerity.’ You can, of course, be religious and use prayers and mantras, but it is not necessary to do so – as people say, “you don’t have to believe to receive” – you need to be open to finding out more about yourself – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and open to change, usually by improving your decision-making and actions. For most, it is a gradual journey of ‘becoming a better person’ or ‘becoming a more authentic person’ in whatever way it means for each individual. Most people will have a moment or moments of epiphany about themselves – often referred to as ‘the awakening.’
Each person experiences their own journey at some point or points in life – in which each person comes face-to-face with themselves. It is your free-will to decide how much, how long, how you want to engage with your own spirituality – how you want to talk to yourself, and be your own guide to healing, health, happiness, peace, and growth. As the Awake and Align website says, this can take the form of the following practices:
- connecting with your Higher Self (your Higher Self is your state of consciousness, accessed through introspection, leading to self-awareness and acceptance)
- spiritual journaling
- acts of service
- rebalancing karma
For Shamans, says Alberto Villoldo, founder of The Four Winds, journeying is ‘understanding fundamental questions about life, ones we often ask as we pave our own path on the great journey of life. The quest for the deepest treasures ultimately means engaging with the three fundamental questions of life: Who am I? Where do I come from? and Where am I going?’
Journaling is the process of writing down your thoughts – to yourself and for yourself – as you go through your personal journey of life.
The Mental Health Center of San Diego says journaling can reduce stress, and can form part of a stress management tool, because it directs and channels your thoughts and feelings (particularly if they are confused, dark, scary, negative, volatile, and temporary) onto a page – and not outwards towards other people, animals, and things. It helps to keep events in perspective. Writing down positive emotions, too, provides a guide to your triggers for feeling ‘good.’
What journaling does most is to help you identify patterns in your life. When patterns, trends, and triggers are identified, specific actions or events can be reduced, increased, stabilised, improved, changed, or eliminated from your life.
The Mental Health Center of San Diego says there are not just mental health benefits of journaling, but also physical benefits. Journaling may improve the immune system, thereby reducing pain and illness. The MHC says it can reduce physical symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Reducing pain and illness then leads to overall psychological wellbeing in the longer term.
You write a diary, a blog, a journal, a memoir – daily, weekly, regularly. It takes the form and structure anyway you want it to be. There is no formula, no rules. It is – for many – the one time you can be YOU, unedited, inhibited, to whatever level you are comfortable with. It can be locked or open, for your eyes only, or shared (only if you are comfortable being vulnerable).
The Mental Health Center of San Diego says research shows that journaling, or other forms of expressive, introspective, and reflective writing, for 15-20 minutes a day, 3-5 times a week can have significant physical effects, including lowering blood pressure and improving liver function.
A good starting point is a Gratitude Journal – journaling about the events that happened or are currently happening in your life, or what you currently have, that evoked or evoke positive feelings. Events, things, people, decisions made, etc. It focuses the mind on the past and present – positively – to help anxiety, stress, and depression. It tends to reduce or eliminate negative feelings about what you don’t have in your life – which leads to a ‘lack mentality.’
You can focus on a particular event and write down all the emotions you had before, during, and after the event. This is a method for emotional release.
You can journal about your daily, weekly, and monthly goals and how these are progressing, and what you could do to unblock delays or deviations. Are the blockages and deviations a way to ‘make you think’ longer about the decisions – because sometimes ‘rejection is protection’ – or delays are ‘pause for thought.’ Often delays bring about all the ‘re’ words – reconsider, research, reverse, report, remember, reduce, release, react, request, remove, recycle, recover, reflect, resolve, resist, replace, respect, recall, repeat, resource, refuse, repair, resign, realise, recognise, restore, recommend, relax, remedy, reward, restrict, revive, retreat, renew, review, rebel, recreate, record, rehabilitate, retain, reconcile, reproduce, repress, refer, retrieve, reorganise, redeem, reassure, reshuffle, reunite, replay, relegate, resurrect, redress, refine, redefine, reinforce, replicate, regulate, relent, rethink, rectify, reclaim, regret, reform, reopen, rebirth, reciprocate, rearrange, resettle, reuse, recollect, replenish, recount, rehydrate, revitalise, retrace, revamp, restate, rekindle, redeploy, rename, refuel …
Some people illustrate and doodle in their journal, while others experiment with creative writing. Some people, such as cancer survivors, write about their physical recovery process. Some write about starting college, or starting a new job, or ending a marriage, or starting a travel journey.
Journaling may prevent you from living or experiencing life – i.e. by consuming all or most of your time writing about the stuff in your head instead of taking a walk outside to experience life. Also, an unwanted person may find and read your journal to detrimental consequences.
Journaling does not necessarily address core issues.
“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.” – Michelle Obama, Becoming
“Journaling is the perfect way to shift your emotions immediately and process your feelings without judgement, so you don’t get stuck in unpleasant experiences.” – Kristen Butler, 3 Minute Positivity Journal: Boost Your Mood. Train Your Mind. Change Your Life
“Your journal is like your best friend. You don’t have to pretend with it, you can be honest and write exactly how you feel.” – Bukola Ogunwale
“My journal has become a paper mirror, a topographic map to my mind. It is where I go to sort out confusion and decipher the invisible.” – Dawna Markova
DISCLAIMER: This website’s author does not dispense medical advice or prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for physical, emotional, or medical problems without the advice of a physician or psychologist, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, information provided here is not intended to replace readers’ existing or other medical, psychological, financial, or legal advice. The author’s intent is to offer general information to help readers in their quest for emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing, guidance towards self-empowerment, and/or for entertainment purposes only. Rainy Day Healing and Martina Nicolls shall not be held accountable for any loss which may arise from any readers’ reliance and implementation of any information provided. For information on courses and personal consultations, see TERMS AND CONDITIONS.