I think I first heard it from Natalie Goldberg…that writing was her spiritual practice. It seems that she was practicing sitting meditation with a Zen Master. She struggled a bit. Finally, her Zen Master suggested that perhaps writing was her spiritual discipline/practice. He told her “If you go deep enough in writing, it will take you everyplace.”
Do you show up for writing daily? Do you get the feeling of connecting with something greater and deeper than your ordinary life through writing. Do you enter a domain that you did not construct but within which you reside for a brevity of time–non-ordinary time? Is it outside the realm of what the outer world requires of you?
I sensed that writing was my spiritual practice in the late seventies. Out of desperation or perhaps out of my soul’s necessity, the pen and the page called to me like a whisperer in the night. I hadn’t heard of the practice of journal writing in those days. It hadn’t become popularized quite yet. There weren’t bookshelves laden with paisley-covered empty journals, lined or unlined.
For me, lined spiral-bound notebooks marked the beginning of this practice. And it was daily, nightly, whenever I needed a companionable friend to talk to. This newly discovered partner was so receptive. It stood by me and bore any emotion, sorrow, hope, fear, optimism, resurrection…everything over the years.
Showing up for writing was a daily practice. It offered soul connection, enabling me to process through something and arrive at a better place, eventually. Sometimes the journey was long, harsh and unyielding. But the page heard it all with neither complaint nor judgment, like a gentle confessor with the power to heal. These journals have borne witness to the descent and resurrection over and over again. Writing as a spiritual practice has been an avenue towards the integrity of my body, spirit and mind.