Riding the Inky Wave
Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT
There is a story from Jewish mysticism about a man who
received a message in a dream that a great treasure
awaited him. He was to journey at once to a village
many days' travel away, where a sentry would tell him
where to find his treasure.
The man set out immediately, and after long days and
nights of perilous travel he indeed reached the village.
Just as the dream foretold, the sentry greeted him with
instructions. "Return to your own village at
once," the sentry said, "and when you get
there, dig under your hearth."
This was the treasure he had traveled so far to
claim? Disillusioned and embittered, and without
resources for even one night's lodging, the man began
the treacherous journey home. He finally reached his
village, bone tired and despairing. He entered his
stone-cold hut. Left only with the shards of his broken
dreams, the man wanted nothing more than to build a fire
and warm himself. Yet against all hope he used the last
of his strength to brush the ashes from the hearth and
dig beneath it. And there he found his treasure.
The story is timeless and universal. Throughout the eons
man sets off on quests to find the elusive treasure that
will make him whole and complete. Along the way there
are dragons to slay, battles to fight, perils to
survive, noble deeds to do. The quest always ends the
same way: The answer, the treasure, has been his
For many, the most transformative moment in personal
journalkeeping is the awareness that spirituality is
available right now, and it can be acknowledged,
recognized, created, explored and experienced in the
pages of a notebook.
If you have yearned for deeper meaning and purpose to
your life, consider the possibility that a private
relationship with your own spirituality could be the
treasure buried under your own hearth. And your journal
is an excellent place to dig.
Entering the Silence
Spiritual connection in your journal begins with
silence. Find a place where you can filter out
distractions. When I was small, I took literally the
directive from Jesus to "go into the closet and
pray." Now I just unplug the phone.
It's nice to clear your space of clutter, but don't
wait to try these ideas until you've cleaned your desk.
Power objects such as stones, shells, crystals,
feathers, drums or rattles can help you attain a
meditative state, especially if there's a story behind
how you found or received them.
If you practice yoga, tai chi, qi gong or another
movement meditation, do this before writing. If you
don't, start with slow and gentle stretching. This
releases tension and grounds you in your body.
Breathe deeply into your abdomen--your center--in
full, rhythmic cycles. Not only does this oxygenate your
cells, but breathwork is a necessity for depth of
Ira Progoff's work with written process meditation
suggests seven-syllable "mantra/crystals"
drawn from the context of the individual's life history.
"In making the mantra/crystal, we are seeking
merely to put a small, representative piece [of the
experience] into words in a way that will recall us to
the atmosphere of the original experience," he
There is apparently a factor of inner wisdom that
expresses itself at the depth of human beings whenever
the circumstances are right for it, and this factor
seems to have a direct affinity for the seven-syllable
mantra/crystals. I infer that the seven-syllable form
and rhythm reflects an inherent cycle in the natural
world, and therefore it easily comes into harmony with
the principle of inner wisdom that is present at the
depth levels of the human psyche. (from The
Practice of Process Meditation)
In addition to the prescribed length, Progoff
suggests that the chosen phrase be smooth and rhythmic
"so that we can easily speak and repeat them under
our breath…. without conscious effort or
thought." The mantra/crystal should correspond to
your individual breath pattern so that you can fit the
entire phrase into one cycle of breathing in and
breathing out. Progoff emphasizes the benefit of gerunds
(verbs ending in -ing) because of their inherent
movement and flow.
The construction of mantra/crystals from your own
life experience is both complex and subtle, and I refer
you to The Practice of Process Meditation for the
full treatment. The essential question to ask is, Where
does it place me in my inner space? If your
mantra/crystal reflects a statement, idea, conscious
belief or doctrine, it will draw you into the mental
realm, Progoff cautions. "Choose an image,
therefore, a symbol, a metaphor, since these can move
about naturally in the twilight range like fish in the
oceanic waters." Some examples of seven-syllable
mantra/cryatals from Progoff's work follow.
- Letting the Self become still
- Holding the stillness within
- Feeling the movement of life
- The river flows to the sea
- Knowing the goodness of God
- Feeling the love of the Lord
- Feeling the pain of my life
- The morning song of the birds
- I and my Father are one
Keep your journal before you as you silently speak
your mantra/crystal to the rhythm of your breath. Notice
any images, symbols, feelings, colors or awarenesses.
Write them down in simple words or phrases: "Flash
of orange/gold in dark tunnel." "Peace, calm,
tears." "Ocean wave." You can open your
eyes just slightly enough to see, or you can try holding
your left index finger (reverse if you are left-handed)
lightly above the tip of your pen and writing with your
Writing as Meditation
Writing becomes a meditation when you bring your
total awareness and gratitude to the act. When you have
fully entered the silence, bring your attention to your
journal. Become aware that Spirit moving through you is
actively creating something that is unique in all the
world and that did not exist even a moment ago. Michael
speaks to this phenomenon:
When I write in my journal, I affix ink onto paper,
resulting in a visual display which can be returned to
over and over again. I have begun to ask myself the
questions: What do I want to make now? What might I want
to see/read in the future? Is what I am creating now in
the service of my wants? And so I have been attending to
not only content, but also form, and sprinkling my pages
with symbols which remind me of the sacredness of my
practice: hearts, simple mandalas, the star of David,
exclamation points, question marks and spirals. I've
become freer with paper, too, double-spacing for visual
effect and occasionally just leaving a page with a word
or two on it--a statement of simplicity and
When you feel ready, take a deep breath and begin a
written meditation. It doesn't matter where you start.
Begin with an awareness that came to you in the silence.
Or imagine yourself in your special place in nature. Or
remember a time when you experienced a moment of grace
Allow yourself to simply write. Suspend judgment
about whether you're doing it right. If you come to a
natural pause in your writing, go back and reread what
you've already written. Your writing will often
When you are writing from your spiritual center, it
feels effortless. Words flow freely. Storytelling
becomes natural and fluid. You may feel as if you are in
an altered state of consciousness, where time is elastic
and acuity is sharpened. You may feel expansive and
connected to the unity of all things. There is often a
sense of gratitude, peace of mind and clarity. You are
riding the inky wave.
© 2000 Kathleen Adams. All rights reserved.
Kathleen Adams LPC, RPT is a
Registered Poetry/Journal Therapist and Director of The
Center for Journal Therapy in Lakewood, Colorado. She is
one of the leading voices on the power of writing to
heal and is the author of four books, including Journal
to the Self and The Write Way to Wellness.
Her upcoming seminars include the annual 5-day women’s
writing retreat in Colorado July 8-13, and a one-day
Journal to the Self workshop in Denver in late July. She
would love your feedback on this column; please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.
Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:
2000 "The Good News"
2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in
2000 "Diary of a Headache"
2000 "Making Up the Truth"
2000 "Pockets of Joy"
2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"
Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:
in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream