Daily Journaling for Spiritual Growth
By Corrin Gani
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” –Socrates
Daily review has been practiced and recommended for centuries from Pythagoras (yes, the triangle guy) to the Chassidic practice of chesbon hanefesh to Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Daily Examens to twentieth century theosophists and psychologists.
A daily review is a practice of self-reflection and self-confrontation. Whether you believe in God, are an atheist or an agnostic, the process of personal growth necessitates self-examination. It is not through avoidance, but in facing all areas of our life that we find happiness.
The process of in-gathering enables an individual to honestly assess their day—successes, failures, progress, and regression. It is a process of raising one’s consciousness to the occurrences and patterns of their daily life.
How to start? Silence. Allow yourself to experience silence and quiet. Turn off your music, your computer, and put away the cell phone.
Write by hand. This connects you, as a human being, to the words you write. It’s just you and God/your conscience/your spirit guides.
Make it pleasurable. Sit in a comfortable chair. Write in a beautiful journal or with a nice pen. The process of honest reflection is a great act of self-respect. Try to treat it as such.
Rhythmic. Write at the same time daily. Devote ten to fifteen minutes to your journaling. Ideally, it should occur before you go to bed. This allows your reflections to sink into your unconscious as you sleep. Sometimes you’ll wake in the middle of the night with an answer or have a revelatory dream.
Honesty. Commit to being one hundred percent honest with yourself. This is a difficult step, but a fundamental requirement. Why be dishonest with yourself? How can an individual grow and improve when struggles and conflicts are denied? Neither condemn nor condone, as said Edgar Cayce. Instead of pushing down and ignoring, actively look at everything in your life—good and bad. Ignoring a problem merely delays its consequences. Use the heightened awareness as a steppingstone to growth and change.
– Review with specificity.
– Where did I stumble and falter today? Why? What were the inner causes?
– What went well? What did I do right? Where did I succeed?
– Looking at tomorrow, how can I think, feel, and act differently?
Honest Feedback. A teacher, a true friend, or spiritual guide can be of great help. It is difficult to honestly look at oneself. We are often blind to that which is obvious to others.
Benjamin Franklin’s daily “Plan for Moral Perfection” included a list of twelve virtues. A friend informed him that he “was generally thought proud….” Franklin added “humility” as number thirteen to his list! You want a person you can trust to tell you the honest truth.
Have the courage to practice daily examination. Honestly looking at your own life will present more challenges than you can ever face on the outer level.
Corrin Gani is the minister of The Church of the Path in Austin, Texas. To connect, email Corrin@ ChurchOfThePath.org, call 512-263-9435 or visit ChurchOfThePath.org for more information.