by Bob Brown
Thousand Oaks, California, USA

For the past 73 years, I’ve been a participant in the human condition, both as recipient and contributor.

In 1997, a woman addressed a church gathering in Santa Barbara, California, and spoke of Fr. Thomas Keating and Centering Prayer. I said to myself, “This is what I’ve been looking for.” I bought Open Mind, Open Heart. Looking back, that was the day, by God’s grace, I intentionally added my footsteps to those of so many others on the spiritual journey.

A number of years later, I contacted Contemplative Outreach, asking for a recommendation on a book which asked profound questions. The response was swift and direct: Contemplative Life, Discovering Our Path into the Heart of God by Julie Saad.

On page 69 of this wonderful book, Julie begins the section on Logging, the practice which is so instrumental in helping God help me break through the “hardpan” of my false self system and descend closer to divine union. On page 70, she writes, “Logging is a form of expressive writing, a practice where we write about an experience from our day for ten to fifteen minutes. It is different from journaling or keeping a diary because it’s designed to help us better understand and deal with thoughts, memories, worries, commentaries, emotions — usually afflictive emotions — and the resulting behaviors. Over time, a daily practice of Logging will uncover patterns that we were previously unaware of because our motivation is often hidden in the unconscious. … Logging also helps to surface from the unconscious or bring into our awareness how our so-called positive emotions — happiness, joy, pride — can be related to our emotional programs. For example, when we are feeling good, proud, or affirmed we may be reacting to our needs and woundedness from the sensation (esteem and affection) energy center.”

On page 71, Julie lists the steps of the Logging Method:

1. Start your Logging practice with prayer, inviting the Spirit to be with you and to inspire you to recall any events from the day where afflictive emotions or commentaries were triggered, or where you regret something you did or said, or sometimes even thought. Also be open to noticing experiences of positive affect and whether they are reactions to esteem and affection needs.
2. Spend a few moments reflecting, either in the evening about that day, or in the morning about the previous day.
3. This is not a diary or a chronological accounting of your day. You don’t need to recount the whole day, just what the Spirit seems to be calling your attention to.
4. Write the date at the top of the page.
5. In just a few sentences, write down any event that surfaces and the impact or emotional response.
6. Write only the facts and leave out any drama.
7. Be honest with yourself. This is only for you to read.
8. Refrain from using pronouns, especially don’t give center stage to the self-important “I.”
9. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling, chronological order, or doing it “right.”
10. Refrain from analyzing, judging, or interpreting. Especially don’t judge the writing. Be the observer or witness and be as objective as you can.
11. At the end of the week or month review what you have written and see if you notice any patterns. The false self with its unconscious motivations is often revealed when you review your Logging and start to see patterns.

The Logging section concludes with these words: “What was previously unconscious, by coming into our awareness, now becomes conscious and gives us the ability to let go and be freer. Rather than putting so much energy into keeping the false self intact, we begin to awaken to who God created us to be” (p. 73).

Further on in the book, Julie explains how to integrate the steps of the Welcoming Prayer into the Logging practice. Most powerful for me has been the sinking into the feelings I write about in my log, welcoming God’s presence and action into the feelings, letting go of the feelings, and opening to the Divine Presence and action which transform the feelings into a stronger, healthier relationship with God, all of creation, and myself. The Divine Therapist does very good work.

I’m grateful to Contemplative Outreach for recommending the book. Thank you Father Thomas, Father William, Father Basil, Julie, and everyone in the Contemplative Outreach community.