Saturday, March 9, 2013

Gratitude Haiku and Spiritual Journaling Techniques

A week ago, I'd have been leading a workshop on gratitude haiku. Why gratitude haiku, you ask?

First of all, a disclaimer. I'm using the word "haiku" very loosely. I understand that there's much more to haiku than the syllables per line (5-7-5). But I was asked to talk about spiritual journaling, and the gratitude haiku was part of a list of ways to use your journal as a spiritual practice.

I also talked about regular gratitude journaling: at the end of the day, write down 5 things that fill you with gratitude. No doubt that it's a powerful practice. But I wanted to be honest. When I've kept this discipline for any length of time, my gratitude lists begin to seem quite similar. As always, cultivating a quality of mindfulness does not come naturally to me.

I've only been doing the gratitude haikus for a few weeks, and they short-circuit my tendency to keep the same list. I find myself paying attention and trying on subjects for haiku possibilities. I find myself more lighthearted than I sometimes am when I'm keeping a gratitude journal--it's fun to write haikus.

Will this practice turn into drudgery eventually? I have no idea. Truthfully, I'm not likely to do this practice year after year. But it's a good practice to take up occasionally.

We talked about other ways to turn an ordinary journal into a spiritual journal.  I'd like to experiment with a prayer journal:  to actually write down my prayers.  I'd like to go back later to see how they were answered.

I also talked about the journal as lectio devina, a way to focus attention on a particular Bible passage, a hymn, or a spiritual reading.

I talked about channeling our spiritual mentors, a process which I describe in more length in this post.

In what may feel like the edgiest suggestion, I said it would be interesting to write in the voice of God.  What is God saying to you right now?

Like I said, I don't do any of these spiritual journaling practices exclusively, and thus regularly.  But they are practices to which I return.  They are practices which I'm happy to share with others.

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