08 Jan Guest Post: Journaling to Nourish the Spirit by Matt Maszczak
”The storm has subsided. The snow, now ankle deep, crunches beneath my feet. I’m trying to remember to, ‘…arrive with every step…’ like Thich Nhat Hanh teaches. Orion stands between the clouds above the corn field behind our house. I feel like I understand him. He was so many people, so many stories. Many of them disjointed and incongruent, but Zeus saw fit to place him among the stars. I too have been many people, incongruent and disjointed. It is time to write my own story among the stars.” -Journal entry from January 4, 2018
A new year brings new ideas. Or does it? It seems natural to take account of our lives with the changing of the calendar. We look at what was missing from our lives the previous year and make a commitment to change it in the new year. Resolutions rarely make it past the middle of the first month. Why is that? Are we just replaying the same loops in our heads? Are we forever stuck on the treadmill of life, running, but going nowhere?
What if there was a way to turn the treadmill off and begin walking through the world, aware and engaged? What if we could see the truth and beauty of reality and live our lives awake and on purpose, rather than trudging through the day hoping the future will be better without any reassurance that is possible?
The loops that play in our minds are difficult to see in the dailiness of life. They are our own personal operating system. All other thoughts and manifestations emanate from these loops. Journaling has the power to help us identify, understand, and change them. Journaling has the power to nourish our spirit and give us a better understanding of reality, our place in the world, and that awareness and understanding can offer us a more present and fulfilling life.
Change the Loop
”…we, as human beings, think that we’re thinking. Not true. Most of the time, we’re remembering. We’re reliving memories. We’re running familiar patens and loops in our head.” -Kamal Ravikant from Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It
When you begin to record the patterns in your head, you can identify them. That is the first step in creating a better life and nourishing your spirit. Journaling has the power to help you rewrite those loops of thought that run through your head, often subconsciously.
We are all familiar with scenes of children being punished by repeating written lines on a blackboard. I have good news: it works. Pick a thought that you want to play in your subconscious. Perhaps, “I Love myself.” Repeat it enough in writing and your mind will start to play that loop in your head. You may not believe it at first, but eventually, that loop will become so ingrained that it becomes a default thought. Our thoughts become our reality.
Arrive With Every Step
”Life is not about getting to a certain place. Life is a path.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
The practice of journaling is dangerous. It is playing with fire. It has the power to give warmth and beauty, but it also has the power to destroy. We need to approach a journaling practice with the same respect and responsibility we give fire.
I have journaled most of my life, but as I look back over them I notice that very few of the entries were about the present. There are hundreds of lines bemoaning the past or wishing for the future. Many of the later ones are bemoaning the fact that the future I had envisioned had not come to pass in the present and those led to speculation about the future. This kind of journaling is perpetuating the loop.
The best way to get out of the loop is to stop reliving our perception of the past and to stop speculating about the future. Instead, we should focus on the present and understand what is happening, now, in this moment. Who are we here and now? That is arriving with every step.
The beauty of this type of journaling is that it will eventually show us how we have changed. Days, weeks, or years from now, we can look back at who we were at a particular moment and understand how we have changed into who we are now. That gives us the ability to rewrite the present and affect our future without wild speculation.
Building a Journaling Practice
“We have all the light we need, we just need to put it into practice.” -Albert Pike
A journaling practice is like any other practice. There are tools and exercises to get started. There are others to grow from beginner to something else. On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, I will be presenting at Basil Bandwagon Natural Market on Journaling to Nourish Your Spirit.
I will be telling my story and how I have built a journaling practice that has added peace and growth to my life in ways I had never imagined. I will be offering you some free tools and exercises to begin building your journaling practice into a life-changing and soul-nourishing experience. We will laugh and learn together and leave prepared to arrive with every step. I hope to see you there.
Matt Maszczak is a writing wanderer. His blog, Wander Doctrine, explores the spiritual side of travel and wandering as a means to presence. He can be found on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Medium