About The Author
My name is Ben Greenfield and I’d like to welcome you to the Spiritual Disciplines Journal.
As an author, speaker and consultant in the realms of health, fitness, nutrition and body and brain optimization, I’m perhaps most well-known for my teachings on biohacking, fitness, muscle gain, fat loss, nutrition, supplements, longevity, cognition and beyond. But for much of my life, I did not focus upon building my spiritual muscles in the same way that I prioritized physical disciplines such as caring for my metabolic health, growing my physical muscles, or tending to the neurons in my brain.
However, after years of pursuing body and brain optimization, I grew to realize that the relatively self-obsessed or carnal pursuits of a lower body fat percentage, finding the perfect diet, climbing your own personal Mount Everest of a triathlon, Spartan race, or CrossFit competition, learning a host of new languages and musical instruments, increasing the health of your blood and biomarkers or “reversing the aging process” are all ultimately unfulfilling, and can often leave one standing at the top of the mountain of physical and mental achievement, yet feeling disappointed and extremely empty inside despite having accomplished what might appear to the world to be lofty and admirable goals.
Most of us inherently know that caring for our soul is important, but we somehow shove it to the side because, let’s face it: life gets busy and it just seems far more practical and immediately useful to go hit the gym rather than sitting cross-legged on the floor meditating and praying, spending an extra five minutes in bed in the morning gratitude journaling, or prioritizing relationships during a long and joyful family dinner.
Fact is, I personally spent about 20 years of my life, up until I was in my mid-30’s, barely tending to my spirit—until I realized that my own unhappiness and constant striving for the next big physical, mental, business and personal achievement and obstacle to overcome was simply leaving my spirit even more shriveled, unfit and neglected. It was also leaving me unfulfilled, unhappy and unable to fully love others and even worse, to make a maximum, purpose-filled impact with my life for God’s glory.
I knew things had to change, I knew I needed to develop some fundamental spiritual disciplines in my life that would redirect my soul, spirit, and body.
...and that is when I created the Spiritual Disciplines Journal.
Spiritual disciplines are specific habits that develop, grow, and strengthen our spirit, that build the muscles of our character, and that train our soul. You can consider them to be the barbells, dumbbells, weight training machines and running trails of our inner being.
Through years of exploring and practicing countless spiritual disciplines - gratitude, service, self-examination and purpose, have proven time and time again to expand my intimacy with God and lead to exponential growth in all areas of my life.
I invite you to experience the power of these core spiritual disciplines to uncover all God has planned for you.
Implementing spiritual disciplines into our lives is not merely a means of biohacking our way to heaven, rather they are freely available so we can experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit and discover more of heaven right here on earth.
By taking the time to begin each day in gratitude and service and review the day's events, feelings and experiences in the evening, you will begin to identify God’s purpose and call on your life in a tangible way. You will also start to uncover how implementing these powerful spiritual disciplines will enhance your life and reap massive benefits in the following areas.
Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people. Grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend preventive health check-ups, which can contribute to longevity. Gratitude also reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., author of The Science of Gratitude and a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude increases happiness and reduces depression. Writing in a gratitude journal has been shown to both strengthen the immune system and help you sleep better and longer, and individuals who practice gratefulness report fewer headaches, less congestion, and less stomach pain.
Rolling over in bed and having my journal right there waiting for me has forced me to stay accountable to myself to complete each day in the journal. I wince if I see a missed day of gratefulness. But I’m not the only one in my family who journals. My wife and twin sons also follow this same journal. This means that we are all to hold each other accountable in our practice of gratefulness, our study of Scripture, our prayer and our service to others. Each night, we bring our journals when we gather at the table for dinner, and we’re able to share what it is that we were most grateful for, the Biblical truths that we discovered from the daily reading, and who it is we specifically identified to help, pray for or serve. If you’re part of a family or in a relationship with a loved one, I recommend bringing your journals to the breakfast or dinner table to share your entries and to use as fodder for deep and meaningful conversation around a meal.
When you begin a daily practice of journaling, you’re “forced” to start your day with something other than jumping into emails, checking social media, or launching into a shower, chores, or a workout. The Bible also contains many verses that encourage a process of self-examination and laying one’s deeds for the day out before God, including 1 Corinthians 11:28: “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Rather than feeling rushed and stressed, you’ll discover that when you take just a few patient minutes to begin your day with journaling and connecting with God, you’ll feel more relaxed, you’ll shift into the mindset that there is “affluence of time,” your stress will be lower, and you’ll fall into a deeper, more healthy breathing pattern. Beginning each day with patience and stillness is an incredibly calming way to live your life.
As you’ll see, each day begins with a Bible-reading. But rather than haphazardly deciding which section of scripture to read for the day, or flipping open to a random book and chapter, your daily devotions will be structured and reliable. There will be no decision fatigue about where to go in God’s Word. You simply navigate to the section for that day, and read. The same can be said for prayer. Rather than figuring out who or what you’re going to pray for as you’re praying, you actually write down your specific prayer focus before you pray, and of course, prayer is structured into every day. The same goes for gratefulness. Rather than being overwhelmed by listing “all the things” you’re thankful for, you simply list one item of gratitude for that day. Beginning each day with this type of reliable structure will allow you to quickly develop a positive habit of journaling.
In recent years, after reading the excellent books Hole In The Gospel and Unfinished, I realized and was convicted of a distinct lack of service in my busy, day-to-day routine. Sure, I read my Bible, I prayed, I had excellent health, I took good care of my family and I lived what appeared on the outside to be a happy and successful life. But there was a glaring absence of attention to the world’s needs for everything from food to water, a lack of a humble willingness to go get to know and serve my neighbors, and an embarrassingly low amount of volunteering and charity work in my local community. But now that I start every day by listing one person I can help, pray for, or serve, it’s transformed my attitude and changed me into a far less selfish and far more aware, selfless, and serving person.
As you begin to see each area of your life flourish, you’ll discover that your entire existence becomes more meaningful and more purposeful. You’ll experience a deep and rich satisfaction that outlasts any runner’s high or exercise endorphin release you might get from a physical workout. In essence, you’ll find yourself experiencing a constant joyful union with God each day while radiating a distinct peace that others are influenced by and simply can’t help but gravitate towards.
So how can you best use this journal to grow deeper with God and build more meaningful relationships around you? Here’s exactly what I recommend:
- Journal every day. Not only are the readings designed for you to finish the entire Bible in one year if you journal every day, but you’ll also develop your habit of gratefulness, prayer, and reading practice far more quickly. On the upper right corner of each day’s entry is a space for you to write the day, month, and year.
- Use a good study Bible. Even though a plain old Gideon’s Bible in a hotel room will do the trick, I recommend you use a good study Bible because it includes verse-by-verse study notes, history and culture notes, related passages, word explanations and many other features that make reading Scripture a more rich and educational experience.
- Choose a time that works for you. You can journal in the morning or in the evening, and if the Bible reading is long, you can even split it into two doses. Read, journal, and pray in a quiet place removed from distractions, and whenever possible, in the same place each time, whether that be an outdoor sitting spot, relaxing in your bed, or sitting at the kitchen table.
- Answer all three questions and don’t feel pressure to write impressively or wax theologically. Just be truthful and speak from your heart.
- Breathe. While you read, journal and pray, focus on deep, relaxed breathing. This will still your mind, relax your nervous system and better oxygenate your body. I recommend box breathing (4 count in, 4 count hold, 4 count out, 4 count hold), alternate nostril breathing, or simply deep nasal inhales followed by exhales through slightly pursed lips. No matter which breathing method you choose, avoid shallow chest breathing and instead breathe deeply from your belly button.
- Ask God to open your eyes and give you insight if you had difficulty understanding the day’s reading and finish with prayer. Give thanks to God as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I’m overjoyed and, of course, grateful to be able to share this journal with you! If you want more journals for yourself, friends, family or loved ones, you can contact us here.