A guide for teens and young adults on the power of creative journaling and its role in enhancing self-discovery and self-awareness
• Provides encouragement for creative writing, self-expression, and self-dialogue
• Includes journaling exercises to inspire creativity and cultivate self-esteem
• By the author of Teen Psychic and The Thundering Years, winner of the 2002 Independent Publisher Book Award for multicultural juvenile nonfiction
Most teens and young adults search for ways to express their individuality and to discover who they are, without being judged. In Spiritual Journaling Julie Tallard Johnson shows that journaling is an informative and supportive outlet for the joys, frustrations, and questions that arise for those making the transition toward their own independent ideas and lives--and a powerful tool for awakening creative potential.
Johnson encourages young people to discover their own unique voices by offering guidance on writing and other forms of self-expression and self-dialogue and on learning how to listen to inner wisdom. As readers move through the book and write in their own personal journals, they gain insight about themselves--knowledge reflected in their own words and the writing of other young people included in the book. The journaling tools provided include meditations, consulting oracles, writing poetry, visualizations, writing rituals, and problem solving around spiritual questions.
The Big Design
We are each spinning our individual threads, lending texture, color, pattern, to the “big design” that is serving us all.
Journals are a tapestry of our life. Each journal entry becomes a thread, connecting us to all the other journal entries, and to every event in our life. When we read through them, we discover cohesive and meaningful patterns.
When you find a thread in your journal and pull on it, an entire story unfolds before you, and even when it may be a sad story you will feel somehow stronger. This strength comes from the connection we experience to ourselves through our journals. Everything we write somehow matters and is somehow linked to everything else.
Your journal entries can be a thread to your past and future, to your feelings and insights. When we write about our days, our experiences, we keep these threads visible throughout our lives.
"There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread."
Finding your thread
Give yourself at least an hour to sit privately, searching for a thread. If you already have a journal, look through it to find a thread. If you aren’t already journaling, just pull a thread from some event in your life.
- Search for recurring dreams and look for the common thread in them. What difficulty keeps arising? Have you solved it yet?
- How does this thread connect to your past, present and possible future?
- What does the thread tell you about yourself today?
- Write about a thread that makes you feel good.
Below is an entry from my journal I wrote when I was nineteen and in college, recalling a childhood memory. Following that is my recent reflection on both the original experience and my earlier writing about it.
Just An Average Girl
“Flowers are for our souls to enjoy.” -Sioux proverb
8 am, August 1976
I walked this particular route home from grade school almost every day. It became a familiar and safe shortcut through the corner of a deep woods. My feet would usually be covered with damp grass and dirt by the time I reached home. Once out of the woods, I would cross a yard that in the late spring would be covered with dandelions. As they are to most children, dandelions were beautiful to me--free flowers for the picking. Mixed in with the dandelions were Indian paintbrushes. This day I grabbed a handful of both to offer my mother on my arrival home from third grade.
It astonishes me how hopeful I felt as I picked the flowers and carried them home. I fantasized about my mother receiving these gifts.
That day I also carried home my report card. In one hand I had the flowers, quickly folding over on themselves and in the other, my third grade report card. Covered with Cs. I felt unsure of myself. C. C stands for “Can’t.” Can’t do better. Can’t expect more. The Cs seemed to scream, like a silent shout, “she’s average, just average.”
When I got home my mother was in the laundry room. I put both my hands out and she took the report card and flowers. She opened up the report card and with no disappointment on her face said, “Some of us are C people. Julie, don’t expect to do better than Cs.” Am I am still that C kid, now, in my second semester of college? I feel so average. Yet not. How am I going to get by? At least she wasn’t disappointed in me. Wasn’t she good not to be disappointed in me?
Thirty Years Later . . .
As an adult and a mother myself, I realize that in college I thought my mother was correct in not being disappointed with me. And as a child and young adult I wasn’t really upset at her considering me as an “average,” just a C. Yet I remembered this incident enough to journal about it. What does this thread tell me now? The truth is, when I pull on this thread now throughout my thirty years of journaling I find some painful insights. I discovered that even in my dreams my mother never thought of me as much more than a C person.
From this thread I followed other strands of insight. I recognized my ability to trust and believe in myself even when those around me couldn’t. I saw how I’d learned not to go to the hardware store for fruit salad (meaning, don’t go to someone for support and love when they don’t have it to give--go where you will get it). I found the thread of undying curiosity for truth. I found the thread that was my search for God. All these are threads to and from my journal entries about my mother. They are all threads of my true nature. They all tell me something of value about myself and my life.
The threads of your true nature
- How are you extraordinary? What do others not know about you that would make you extraordinary? Write about this.
- Write about a memory you have about your mother or father.
- Do you remember bringing home a report card? What happened? What feelings and thoughts did you have when your parent(s) read your report card?
- Do you remember your walk or bus ride home on any particular day? Write about that.
You may feel far from it (true self), but it is never far from you.
-Lama Surya Das, poet, author, Buddhist spiritual teacher