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Kathleen Adams

Scribing the Soul
December 2000

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Kathleen's Current Column

by Kathleen Adams, LPC, RPT

In ancient times, scribes were devotees of the Word. They were the bridges between worlds, charged with the sacred task of painstakingly transcribing the Mysteries into a form that could be referenced by holy men and women. Many centuries later, our modern journals give us unlimited access to the Mysteries of our souls. Through this column, I hope to offer ways that we can approach our own lives with the love and devotion of the scribes of old.

"Riding the Inky Wave"

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 all along.

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 spiritual awareness.


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 writes.

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 eyes closed.

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 significance.

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 or bliss.

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 spontaneously continue.

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 kay@journaltherapy.com or stop by her website, www.journaltherapy.com.


Read Kathleen's Past "Scribing the Soul" Columns:

November 2000 "The Good News"

October 2000 "Soul Food: Exploring Affirmations in Writing"

September 2000 "Diary of a Headache"

August 2000 "Making Up the Truth"

July 2000 "Pockets of Joy"

June 2000 "Five Ways to Scribe Your Intuition"


Read Kathleen's Feature Article on Dream Journals:

Writing in the Dark: Cracking the Soul's Code Through Dream Journals



Visit Kathleen at her Website:



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