A tool for excavating the resonance buried in your psyche and soul
Howdy friends! Today I’m publishing a juicy excerpt from The Forest. This course is centered around the ongoing processes of self-discovery and self-creation. To that end, “targeted inquiries” are one of the key types of exercises we’ll be doing together. So here’s a primer!
A core element of the [[Ungated Philosophy]]1 is to Work from the inside-out. This means we're not searching the external world for other people's answers about how to approach our creative work and business, but instead digging inward. If our goal is a joyful, true fan business, fueled by Creative Individuation, the answers we seek are already within us. Other people's paths might feel comfortable and safe, but they will never lead to a flourishing life in the same way as carving your own path.
Targeted Inquiries are a tool for self-discovery. They'll help you search your psyche and soul, and uncover all sorts of raw ingredients, which you can then combine in any way that feels alive and resonant to you. When I say [[I am not your guru]], it's because everything in The Forest is predicated on this personal inner work. What you discover here, and where those discoveries lead you, will probably look different from what I'm doing. And that's great. Our goal isn't to follow the same blueprint and build identical businesses. Internet culture has already been poisoned by mimicry at scale. Our goal is to build something that is uniquely our own, and connect with people who value us for the pure expression of our authenticity (ie. true fans).
With that, here are the directions for how to do Targeted Inquiries. My suggestion is to read this through 2-3x, and do the same for the [[Freewriting]] and [[Freespeaking]] explainers. Deeply familiarize yourself with the process and instructions, so that when you sit down to do an inquiry session, you've internalized the guidelines and don't have to think about them much. Lastly, expect the first few sessions to be the most uncomfortable and uncertain. Like everything worthwhile, when you put in the reps, it starts getting easier. Eventually, as you navigate through The Forest, inquiry will become second nature, and you will be well on your way towards becoming more fully yourself.
The Targeted Inquiry Process
Step 1: Prepare your physical/digital environment
expect this to get a bit uncomfortable, as you'll be giving your brain a workout in a way it's not used to
you can proactively take away outlets for your brain to distract itself from the discomfort
turn off notifications everywhere
tell your spouse/roommate/cat not to disturb you
if you need a distraction blocking app, or to put your phone in another room, do it
our goal is pure, focused single-tasking. set up your environment accordingly
and remember, if you feel the urge to check twitter, email, etc during a session, that means it’s working
lean into the discomfort. double down. let your brain sweat. very often this type of tension precedes the most delicious insights
Step 2: prompt yourself with a question or idea
open-ended inquiry can be good and worthwhile
but for our purposes in The Forest, we're looking for specific types of insights that we can put to practical use in creativity, marketing, and business
so it helps to be a bit more intentional and point yourself in specific directions, which is what we’ll be doing in the exercises throughout this course
for every targeted inquiry exercise in The Forest, I will give you a group of related prompts or questions to consider
personally, i like to look over all of the prompts before diving into a session
i'll start with the one that feels most interesting, but by looking at the others, my brain starts working on them in the background
if none of my prompts resonate or spark anything, come up with your own. there are no rules here!
you're better prepared to journey into your own psyche than me. so do whatever you need to do to make it a fruitful journey
Step 3: set a timer (optional, but recommended)
without a timer, it’s easy to let your subconscious off the hook before it's unearthed the juicy stuff
there will be a flourish of immediate and obvious ideas at the beginning, and you may be tempted to stop there
but the real magic happens when push far beyond the obvious ideas and keep digging
10-20 minutes has been the sweet spot for me
long enough to make my brain sweat quite a lot
but short enough that it doesn’t freak me out and lead to procrastination
also, if you get to the end of your timer and the ideas are still flowing, keep going!
Step 4: write or record yourself speaking about the prompt
here are some important principles/guidelines for how to approach this
move at the speed of thought
the goal is pure stream of consciousness. let everything in your mind flow out unimpeded
doesn’t matter if the ideas are gibberish
doesn’t matter if you don’t actually believe what you’re saying
doesn’t matter if your spelling, grammar, or punctuation suck
doesn’t matter if you express something that scares you, or that you’ve never told another living soul
just keep dumping the next thought that pops into your head onto the page
try to keep the ideas flowing, no matter what
momentum and energy are your friend, as they keep your mind active
if you stop for too long, it lets your subconscious off the hook, and it can be hard to start back up
so if you get majorly stuck, use another, related prompt, or just write whatever pops in your head
personally, i’ll start writing about how i’m feeling in the moment. i’ll describe, explore bodily sensations and what i think they mean
or i’ll just write about what i plan to have for lunch, or what i'm doing later that day
just keep moving, and trust that your brain is still working on the important stuff in the background
if you keep at it, relevant ideas will sprout back up organically
and remember, this is only for you. no one else is ever going to see it.
Step 5: conduct a [[Resonance Review]]
read through what you wrote or captured
ideally wait for a bit of time to pass from when you first wrote it
a few hours, or maybe a day
highlight or underline anything that resonates. be on the lookout for...
positive resonance - things that create a warmth and energy and vitality in your body
negative resonance - things that fill you with heaviness, dread, anger, sadness
both types of resonance can be useful, and can give you clues about what's worth creating and how to build your business
Rob’s Daily Invitation
I didn’t publish here yesterday, but I did publish my first targeted inquiry exercise into The Forest. It’s called “the deathbed audit” and it is perhaps the most emotionally hardcore thing you’ll encounter in my digital world. The goal is to help you uncover what matters most in your life, and what you’ve spent time on, despite it not mattering. This kind of clarity is uncomfortable at first, but it starts a chain reaction where you can begin letting go of the past, and building your future around what matters most. If that’s your kind of masochism, I humbly invite you to join me in The Forest.
Whenever you see [[Double Brackets]] like this, it’s referring to another page somewhere in The Forest.