One of my key spiritual practices is keeping a “spiritual diary.” This isn’t a diary I write in every day but each time I come across interesting quotes, information or teachings in books and online, I write them in my diary so I can easily look back on them any time I want to. It helps me to track what subject areas I am often researching and I can see how my views have changed and progressed over time. If I have any “eureka” moments or interesting things happen in my life I also write those things down in there. I find it a very useful practice.
Related to this idea is having a blog. A blog is like having a “spiritual diary” that the whole world can see, that keeps you accountable and that helps you to put your thoughts into a logical and readable form. And like a spiritual diary, it can help to track your thinking and spiritual journey over time. This is certainly how I use this blog.
I have written before about keeping a nature diary – once a week, going out into nature and observing what’s going on, how the world is changing, what the animals and plants are doing e.t.c. I have to be honest, I haven’t really done this one but it’s something I aspire to do in future. A nature diary should include location, date, time, weather conditions, your feelings and anything you feel is of interest to report that’s happening around you. Ideally you should go to the same place every time so that the changes are easier to see. Record what the animals do, record what the birds do, record what the plants and trees do. You can also draw or write down anything you don’t recognise and look it up online or in a field guide later.
Finally, there is the personal improvement diary. Recently I have come across many different websites and books advocating a kind of “self improvement” diary. This is a major practice in Stoicism and can be found in Buddhism too. The idea is that at the end of each day you use the diary to review your day and ask yourself four questions:-
1) What went well today?
2) What went not so well today?
3) How can I improve things or put things right?
4) What three things am I grateful for today?
By doing this every day we should become better people, improve our lives and become happier and more grateful. I haven’t yet taken this one up, but as I am finding it suggested so often, I feel its time to start.
In conclusion, do you use a diary in your spiritual practice? If so, what do you use it for?