Life's Companion:
Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest

by Christina Baldwin

Bantam Books, 1991. ISBN 0553352024.
Reviewed by Maggie Knorr
Posted on 02/23/2001

Nonfiction: Creative Life

When Christina Baldwin pioneered the journaling movement with her book One to One in 1977, the Library of Congress did not have a category for journaling. In 1990 she took the art of journaling into spiritual practice with her book, Life's Companion.

Life's Companion is a clear, well-written guide to making journaling a deeper experience. More than a text, there are examples and exercises to help you apply the concepts presented. Baldwin´┐Żs approach is easily related to life by people all of faiths.

The book is divided into six sections; Laying the Groundwork, Conditions for Travel, Types of Guidance, The Four Major Practices, Applying the Four Practices, and Traveling in the World. In Laying the Groundwork, Baldwin suggests that life is a spiritual journey and journaling is the map of that journey. She discusses the importance of journaling as well as the importance of questioning and the role silence has in life.

Conditions for Travel covers the emerging self, writing your spiritual history, the role of disorder and the role of wonder. In Types of Guidance, Baldwin talks about being guided in life by our bodies, dreams, and intuition and how ritual helps us embrace and use these things to move us along in our journey. Love, forgiveness, trust and acceptance are The Four Major Practices. We apply them in daily life by paying attention, learning to follow, pursuing our visions, and becoming persons of power. Traveling in the World suggests that we will be taken far outside ourselves and then will return, instructing us to find friends and like-minded individuals to support us in our quest, finding where we fit in and learning how to give to others from our experience. Last and most important is the need to believe in the process. At times the topics may be a little abstract, but the accompanying journal entries and exercises guide you in activities that will help you cement the ideas in your mind. At the end of each section there are meditations and guided imagery exercises.

Life's Companion is a gentle introduction and instruction in seeing life as a spiritual quest and the importance of journaling to map the quest for yourself. The text is printed on the right pages, and the journal entries and exercises are printed on the left pages, placing the examples and exercises beside the text they illustrate and keeping a continuity in the ideas. This format may be confusing when you start reading, but you adjust quickly to it. The layout makes you concentrate and question as you read.

I have read many books on journaling, but this was the first one I found that deals with it on a spiritual level. I am not spiritual in a mystical sense but have a more down-to-earth approach, and Life's Companion challenged me to experience spirituality in all aspects of life.

Check out our interview with the author of Life's Companion.

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