Sacred Path Writing Exercise: Buried Treasure

Last week we created a portal into another world in an exercise from Writing as a Sacred Path by Jill Jepson. This week: a final exercise from the warrior path section that’s designed to help you find the courage to speak your truth, whatever that may be. This isn’t easy, as Jill Jepson explains:

“Anxiety about the quality of our work is only one challenge to the writer’s courage. The fear of exposure – of standing naked before the world – can be even more difficult to deal with. Writing requires us to tap our deepest secrets and to reveal the dark side of life in our communities and the world. It forces us to be painfully revealing. ‘A person who publishes a book wilfully appears before the public with his pants down,’ said Edna St Vincent Millay, and anyone who has published or publicly read their work knows exactly what she was talking about.”

This exercise is called Buried Treasure and it involves visualising your inner self as a treasure to be retrieved and then shared:

“We absolutely must not let fear of exposure keep us from writing our truth, from delving deeply into our lives and telling the stories that must be told. To deal with that fear, we must see that what we are offering the world is a treasure of immense worth. That means all of what we have to offer. … The embarrassment, shame, eccentricities, wicked thoughts, and dishonest behaviour we’ve engaged in may seem worthless and horrible to us, but through our writing, we make them valuable. … Visualising [your] wounds and missteps as hidden treasures can help you transform the discomfort of writing about them into a liberating act:

  1. Envision your inner self as treasure. To see your inner self – with all its neuroses, bad habits, fantasies, and dreams – as a rare gift, picture it as a treasure. Gold coins, precious gems, pearls of rare beauty, and all sorts of other wonderful bounty lie locked in a chest at the bottom of the ocean. Your mission as a warrior writer is to retrieve that cache.
  2. Remind yourself of your mission. See the vastness of the ocean and the swell and dip of the waves. Picture the treasure lying deep below. To reach that treasure, you must have both courage and strength. You must have the vision to see it through the dark water and the confidence to know you can reach it.
  3. Set forth with courage. You dive into the water. You feel the shock of the cold, but you do not flinch from it. You swim downward farther and farther, as deeply as you can go. You are fearful but you keep swimming. When you see the chest that contains your priceless treasure, you must unlock it. You work the lock as the water pulls you upward, your lungs still holding the air. At last, the chest falls open.
  4. Return with the treasure. Take just a single thing – one ruby or a strand of pearls – and swim up to the surface.
  5. Write. Keep in mind that treasure in your hand. Don’t forget what you went through to claim it. Write with an awareness of its value.

“Whenever you write, you hope to find the treasure within. You face the great unknown lying below the ocean surface of your self. You dive beneath the waves of everyday comings and goings into the still, dark world inside. Deep in the centre, you find the wealth that is your life. Now bring it up to the surface and offer it to the world.”

More Writing Prompts here