Some weeks ago RenĂ© proposed that I create a course for his online writing school that we codenamed writing as therapy. I didn’t hesitate in accepting his proposal, I knew it was the time to do it. This morning I unpacked my modest trail of journals which begins in 2013 and eases off in 2017, when I begun journaling online instead of journaling privately.

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Why there’s a casket in my dining room is a matter of another log

I begun work today. The work consists in finding ways in which I prod and question myself in writing to reveal things which I do not know the answer. I’ve begun in chronological order, starting from the oldest journal from November 2013 (exactly five years of journaling). I’ll write a brief impression of each journal and then the writing prompts that can assist with self-knowledge that arose from each journal

Journal I
November 2013 - February 2015

In this journal I reassert an ego that’s already being ripped apart because—like an insect that sheds its skin—the soul needed more space to grow. I try to give myself answers rather than to understand the problem, because at the time I was evading rather than confronting what was happening.

Prompts that arose from this journal:

  • Describe the day you will live tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, describe the day as it actually was. Contrast your expectation with your experience.

  • Describe your day in reverse. Begin from the present moment and trace back the day 24 hours.

  • Register your current experience taking into account senses and emotions: where you are, what do you see, what do you smell, where you are emotionally, how does it feel sitting on a chair, and so on.

  • You did something really naughty and now you’re on trial. Create a dialogue with these characters: a judge, the devil, an angel, and yourself.

  • Describe the person who speaks in your head.

  • Describe who you are in the most detailed and comprehensive way possible. Then remove everything that is non essential so your essence is recognized.

  • Stoic exercise: rehearse responding to setbacks with wisdom. Choose a real recent example of a setback or frustration and write how you would have handled it in the wisest way possible.

  • Describe the most embarrassing moment you’re willing to admit, but write it in a humorous tone.

  • Stand up and spin until you are dizzy. Describe the experience of dizziness while dizzy.

  • Think about something that makes you uncomfortable and then do it. Describe the feeling of discomfort. Describe the outcome.

  • Describe your inner experience in an altered state of mind.

  • Describe your day, then remove everything that is routine. What remains?

  • What do you think is your purpose in life?

  • You inherit an empty house under the condition that you inhabit and furnish it within a year. You receive an allowance of $1,000 USD/mo to furnish the house. Describe in chronological order the things that you buy and the justification to buy them.

  • Describe your perfect day

  • Soothe yourself with acceptance

  • Stoic exercise: meditate on the impermanence of everything

  • Recreate an emotionally powerful moment you’ve had, but now multiply your feelings by ten.

  • Recreate an emotionally powerful moment you’ve had, but now diminish your feelings to nearly nothing.

  • Express inner experience in metaphor

  • Write a letter of acceptance to yourself.

  • Describe a character of complete competence.

  • Describe a character of complete incompetence.

  • Go inside a difficult feeling and confront it.

  • Describe an imaginary dinner with someone you admire

Many of the prompts from this first journal arise from the blindness I was experiencing at the time. The first times doing inner work you will bump against countless walls before understanding that often what we see as a problem to be fixed is actually a symptom of a deeper problem. You see moisture on the ceiling and you think the solution is to paint it over. The prompts don’t give the solution, they say yes, there’s moisture on the ceiling, now let’s find where it comes from.