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Language and Writing Center: Spiritual Writing

Select Spiritual Writings (available through the Learning Commons)

A Guide to Spiritual Writing

Writing can also be an immensely spiritual practice. Adherents of mystic and ascetic traditions such as Thomas Merton, Meister Echkart, Ibn Arabi, The Baal Shem Tov, Osho, Rabbi Shalman Schectcher-Shalomi, and many others incorporated writing into their devotional practices. The world continues to benefit from their published spiritual insights.  

Taking time to engage writing as a spiritual practice can enhance your analytic writing abilities. Sometimes it's important to maintain the separation between the spiritual writing that will feed your soul and the analytic writing and research you do for coursework. 

Starting a spiritual writing practice might seem daunting, but there are simple ways of incorporating writing into your spiritual life: 

  • Writing after prayer, meditation, or a contemplative practice: A daily practice of journaling after a contemplative practice is a great way to ground and center yourself before doing the very hard work of academic writing. If you're a morning person, taking the time to engage a contemplative practice and then journal is a great way to engender a spiritual writing practice before doing homework. Do you find yourself getting stressed at a particular time of the day? Sometimes it's great to pause, take some deep calming breaths, briefly sit with and journal through what you are feeling? If you're a night person, journaling after prayer or meditating is a great way to ground yourself before sleeping and file away the day. 
  • Writing while studying sacred texts: A daily practice of recording your thoughts during or after you read a text that is relevant to your tradition is a great way to spiritually write. Are you working through a particular passage of the Torah, New Testament, Qur'an, Upanishads, etc over a particular period of time? After reading your daily portion, take a few moments to reflect on how you feel and write it down. What came to mind as you were reading? Did it bring anything up for you emotionally? How did your reading enhance or inspire the ways you think about effecting change in the world? 
  • Writing after a congregational service: Writing after attending a congregational service is another way to practice spiritual writing? What were you carrying into your community of worship before the service started? What was on your mind? How did the day's service uplift, inspire, challenge, provoke, etc? Take some time to reflect on how the congregational service made you feel. 

Books on Writing as a Spiritual Practice