The Purpose of Contemplative Writing, it’s Meaning and it’s Benefits:
Since I was a teenager I have been writing or journaling. I started writing out of pure necessity. If being a teenager wasn’t hard enough with all of the roller coaster emotions that come with going through puberty, I had to deal with a father who suffered from bi-polar disorder and alcoholism. Our family never discussed or dealt with his constant outbursts. Thankfully, without knowing the benefits of writing from a psychological and overall health standpoint, I turned to my journal as my friend and confidant to express my feelings I couldn’t express verbally.
There were no friends that I could talk to. My journal literally helped me keep my sanity.
This kind of writing is meant to express feelings and to get those feelings out instead of stuffing them down and creating stress. Many times we take the behavior of others and project it on ourselves. Because of my father’s illness, I took his outbursts personally. It was translated that I wasn’t loved or supported. I have been writing for years to overcome self-defeating thoughts and beliefs. The more I see the words on the page, the more I see how unfounded these beliefs have become.
Contemplation – by Webster’s Dictionary definition means:
A concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion – A state of mystical awareness of God’s being
Now, my daily writing has evolved and is part of my meditation. If you are not used to writing, don’t let the act of writing intimidate you. This writing is meant to be between you and your Creator, not for other people to see. This is not about being judgmental, having proper spelling or using proper grammar. This kind of writing is a stream of consciousness; expressing your feelings in the form of doubts, fears, love, joy, gratitude, etc.
Many times I will start out writing with severe anxiety and by the time I am done, I am able to clearly see that my fears and anxiousness were unfounded.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
– 1 Peter 5:7
Professor James W. Pennebaker, Ph.D., focuses on the area of mind/body relationships and health. One of his books is called The Healing Power of Confiding in Others. In it he talks about how suppressing deep guilt or turmoil requires arduous physical effort which is devastating to one’s health and well-being. That confiding in a journal, spouse, or friend profoundly and physically relieves stress. Writing, in particular, is safe because no one will judge you, criticize you or distort your perceptions.
The act of writing connects our minds and hearts. Prayer, meditation and journaling – or what I call contemplative writing – have been very powerful tools in my spiritual journey.
There is proof in the healing power of writing. Expressing feelings is very important, especially expressing our feelings to God.
One day I was watching an evangelist talking about how our feelings didn’t matter. God wanted us to be obedient and to just do what He asks us to do. I don’t believe that. The following verses came to mind:
Jesus said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:9-11
God has given each of us a gift or many gifts. I am not gifted in using a hammer and a nail. Now, I can volunteer to work on a house for Habitat for Humanity, but with me there, the house isn’t going to be completed very quickly! Plus, I can tell you that I would be stressed out and would probably have some banged up fingers too. However, ask me to write an advertisement to get people to sign up and volunteer and I can do that very quickly and very well.
I believe that God wants us to serve Him, fully utilizing the talents He has given us. He wants us to serve Him out of love and joy, not duty. Would you rather receive flowers from your spouse because he loves you and wanted to surprise you or because you nagged him so much about receiving flowers that he finally brought you some?
If you are searching for more purpose in your life, journaling can help you get to your heart’s desires. Exploring your gifts through writing will bring you more clarity. I also recommend a program called My Wired Style for discovering your strengths. Deb Ingino is a personal friend and the founder of My Wired Style and works with others to help them discover how they are wired. To find out more, read about my personal experience with My Wired Style.
It is proven that writing down goals helps bring them to pass. By paying attention and being more aware, you will be amazed at how things will start to happen in your life as you write.
Many times I will pull out old journal notes and I will see how God has worked in my life through various situations. If I had not written about the feelings and circumstances, I would have forgotten.
I urge you to discover the power of contemplative writing and how this discipline will relieve stress, make you feel lighter, bring you more clarity and draw you closer to God. I’ve recommended the same devotional tools that I use to help show you how you can incorporate meditation, prayer and contemplative writing into a busy schedule.