This course is about building a framework for self-knowledge. The path toward self-actualization — toward becoming a Big Self — begins with the self. Not navel-gazing. Not selfish entropy. Not analysis paralysis. No, the journey of understanding the world, your place in it, how you interact with others, and their blind spots and strengths, is to understand your own blinds spots and strengths. The sum total of philosophic inquiry is said to have been summarized by Aristotle who said, “Know thyself.” We’ve also heard it similarly phrased as, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
We advocate an approach to building self-knowledge that engages with what you’re feeling and thinking, not letting go. It is similar to meditation in that it requires a focus of attention. We think of it as a crossroads between meditation and therapy. This powerful approach to self-understanding is expressed through writing.
Writing is not only for writers. Writing is for all of us. As Julia Cameron notes in her book The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life, “I believe we all come into life as writers.”
Writing helps us track our spinning thoughts and feelings, which can lead to key insights. Most of us do not think in complete sentences but in self-interrupted, looping, impressionistic fragments. Writing documents thoughts that are otherwise fleeting and transparent. Writing speaks to another consciousness, in this case, another part of the self.
Writing also creates a mind-body-spirit connection; it is a fully immersive experience with the self. When you use your hands to write something directly from your brain, you are creating a powerful connection between your inner experience and your body’s movement out in the world. It is also described as a form to find meaning through feeling, integrating, and emotion and intuition through language. We hold worries, fears, and memories in our bodies. Writing is a small movement, but it is incredibly powerful when you are writing down what is in your mind.