Excerpt from   The Mystical Backpacker

by  Hannah Papp

I know. I know. I’ve said it before. But I also know how traveling gets—at first you miss a day, and then four, and then all of a sudden you’re thinking you’ll write this stuff down when you get home. Don’t try to fool me; I’ve been there! Throughout your Mystical Backpacking experience, journaling is a task you don’t want to skimp on; this is the fourth Mystical Tool. Keeping a journal may seem a banal exercise, but by journaling, you are actually constructing a mystical portal. As you travel the interior landscapes of your soul and the exterior landscapes of the places you’re passing through, keeping a journal builds your portal word by word. Record your thoughts and observations. Record details about the people you meet, what you read, or see or hear that resonates with you and why. If you think you see a sign, write it down. When you finish a particularly powerful prayer, record the experience. When you finish a reflection session, write down what emerges when you do.

The only reason I am able to share some of my stories with you now is because I wrote them down in my journal. For example, I had completely forgotten the story of meeting the young man from Japan and searching for a hostel. Memory is a tricky thing— the way I recounted it in my mind, I’d gone straight to my hostel and all had been immediately well. I wouldn’t know the names of places I’d been or people I’d met had I not written about them in my journal. I filled my journals with words, but I also glued in photos, coasters, postcards, product labels, tickets, and all sorts of visual reminders of the places I’d been. All of my Reflection Work is recorded in my journals. While doing the work all those years ago was incredibly insightful in the moment, I continue to learn from it anew each time I reread the work now. I am able to do that only because I recorded the work in my journal. Your journal will become a doorway you step through to access your mystical experiences long after you have returned from your trip. While the dividends from your journey are something you can treasure forever, the intangible magic that occurred daily will begin to ebb from memory. As such, you will store those memories on the page and recover them morsel by delicious morsel at another time. In this way, your odyssey never fades.

Months or perhaps even years from now, you will look back through your journal and the moment when your life changed will be clear. The messages you received from people or observations you made will be recognized as signs for what was to come. You are a cartographer, recording the map of the new lands you are discover- ing: the new you. Do so in detail, and you will be grateful you did. You don’t need to record every sneeze and every meal, but honor the broad strokes of each day in ink and you’ll thank yourself for years to come.

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