journal journaling writing mdma creativity inner work

Picture this: you, reclining comfortably, pen in hand, experiencing the heightened state of openness and ease induced by MDMA.

This is the perfect moment to embark on a journaling journey of self-discovery.

Welcome to the transformative world of journaling in MDMA sessions.

In this blog post, we will explore the powerful combination of MDMA and journaling, unlocking a pathway to self-reflection, emotional release, and personal growth. I’ll discuss the benefits of combining MDMA and journaling and offer a few different types of journaling you can try during your roll. And I’ll end by sharing a bit of my experience.

Let’s dive in.

journal journaling writing mdma creativity inner work

Benefits of Journaling on MDMA

The benefits of journaling are well-documented. They include self-reflection, emotional release, clarity, personal growth, emotional regulation, memory enhancement, problem-solving, creativity, emotional healing, and accountability.

So why the need to introduce MDMA?

Reduced Amygdala Response: Enhanced Openness and Relaxation

One of the notable effects of MDMA is its remarkable ability to reduce the amygdala response. The amygdala is part of your brain that plays a central role in the brain’s processing of emotions, particularly fear and stress.

By reducing amygdala activity, MDMA enables individuals to approach difficult and stressful subjects with a greater sense of ease and openness. It diminishes fear and anxiety, establishing a safe space for self-reflection and introspection. This is what has made MDMA such a powerful tool in the treatment of PTSD and it also creates an ideal mindset for valuable inner work through journaling.

Journaling in this state can be transformative, providing insights into one’s inner world and uncovering the root causes of challenges.

Enhancing Motivation and Focus

If you’re like me, you might not journal as much as would probably benefit you.

The good thing is, with MDMA, can help with motivation and focus.

MDMA has amphetamine-like properties that can boost motivation, as highlighted by Ben Sessa in the Netflix series based on Pollan’s book “How To Change Your Mind.” Sessa pointed out that the amphetamine part of MDMA helps patients participate in therapy by providing a motivating effect.

The stimulating aspect of MDMA can also bring a heightened sense of focus, allowing you to be fully engaged in the journaling process. Similar to how a good cup of coffee can help on a workday. But with an emotional opening and mildly mind-expanding boost.

By tapping into the heightened state of openness and relaxation facilitated by MDMA, combined with the lowered amygdala response and increased focus, journaling during MDMA sessions can become a powerful tool for personal exploration and growth.

journal journaling writing mdma creativity inner work

Types of Journaling

There are several ways you can incorporate journaling into your MDMA sessions. Here are a few options you might try:

Open Journaling

Keep a journal nearby and jot down any interesting or insightful thoughts that arise during the session. This unstructured approach is a good starting point, especially if you’re new to journaling or don’t want to dedicate the entire session to writing. If you’re sharing the session with someone, you can even share a journal.

Internal Family Systems (IFS) / Parts Work

This modality has gained popularity in the psychedelic world. It involves recognizing that each individual is composed of different parts with conflicting interests. By engaging in parts work, you can bring these conflicting parts together and facilitate a dialogue to find resolution and a path forward. Any internal conflicts or disharmony can serve as fuel for a parts work journaling session.

Journaling Prompts

Thought-provoking journaling prompts can guide your mind in specific directions and prompt you to explore certain topics. Similar to how therapists ask good questions to elicit insights, well-crafted journal prompts can lead to valuable reflections. You can choose prompts related to areas you wish to focus on, such as health, relationships, work, or personal growth.

If you are doing some online course, maybe a homework exercise has some prompts for you that you can use. 

Here are a couple journaling prompts to get you started:
80/20 Life Audit
7 Death Contemplations


MDMA’s mild psychedelic effects and enhanced enthusiasm make it a great tool for brainstorming. Choose a topic, such as ways to improve your life, make money, enhance relationships, or improve your health, and let your mind generate ideas freely. This activity can be engaging and enjoyable during an MDMA session.

Creative Journaling

You can also merge brainstorming with creative projects. Use your journal to brainstorm ideas for a creative or collaborative endeavor. You can create outlines, explore divergent ideas, and let your creativity flow without filtering or judgment. This stage is about generating as many ideas as possible. You can review and filter them later.

Vision Boarding

Sketch or create small images of things you want to manifest or bring to life. This type of visual journaling helps you to visualize your desires and aspirations.


Write letters to yourself, imagined future self, or significant people in your life. You can also use letter writing to work on relationships or express your thoughts and emotions. You can even then decide if the letters (or some, perhaps soberly edited, version of them) are something you would pass on.

My Experience

I discovered the combination of journaling and MDMA during the first lockdown in 2020 when I embarked on my first solo MDMA experience. I was hesitant to try this at first, as I thought that I’d want to be around other people, but a friend of mine had told me he’d done MDMA on his own before, and it was great every time. So I tried it. And he was right, it was great!

I’ve done a bunch of solo MDMA sessions since then. And journaling is always a key part of it. Nowadays, during a typical solo MDMA session, I’ll fill at least 10 pages in my bullet journal. I use all of the above options. Sometimes I’ll plan for some of them, sometimes I leave it open.

If an emotionally tricky topic arises, which would normally be towards the start of a session, then I will often turn to parts work journaling to find some resolution on the matter. Or if it involves another person, I find writing letters to be very helpful.

The content ranges from personal reflections to creative ideas, and fun topics. Journaling helps me gain clarity, connect with my emotions, and approach creative work from a place of inspiration.

Depending on the session, I usually do other things. It may be hanging out with friends, playing some music, or going to see a band play. In which case I usually time it to see the band, and then go home and journal on the tail end before bed.

I’ve found that being offline (or uncontactable) and disconnected from daily responsibilities allows for deeper thinking and exploration of complex issues, so if this is an aim, I’d recommend you go on airplane mode.

Quick Tips

Discern What You Journal

It can be easy to get caught up trying to write everything down, so try to be discerning about what you write down. Aim to capture insights and significant reflections rather than mundane details.

Keep It a Safe Space

Remember that your journal is a safe space for expression, free from judgment or fear. Your journal should be a private sanctuary where you can be your truest self, allowing you to explore your innermost thoughts, dreams, and fears with complete authenticity.

Embrace the freedom to express your thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of criticism or scrutiny. 

Review Your Notes

Revisit and go over your journal entries within a couple of days of the session. Reflect on your insights, separate the fun from the profound, and transform actionable items into concrete tasks. This integration process enhances the value of your journaling practice.

journal journaling writing mdma creativity inner work

Journaling during MDMA sessions can encompass a wide range of activities, from inner work and emotional exploration to creative ideation. Find the approach that resonates with you and embrace the transformative power of combining journaling with MDMA.

If you have a session coming up, I recommend trying out a bit of journaling. Let me know how it goes!

tripping as a tool for self realisation

Welcome to PSYJuly day 14 🙂

Today we have a post from fellow psychedelic blogger and comrade Cody Johnson. I first reached out to Cody whilst I was based in Mexico and setting up the first version of Maps of the Mind back in 2016. He gave me great support and advice as I started out on my blogging journey and I’m grateful to still be in touch with him to this day. I’m pleased to be sharing one of my favourite posts of his here, and notably, one that introduced me to The Secret Chief Revealed, an important book in my story. I hope you enjoy.

Tripping as a Tool for Self-Realization

Psychedelics are the chameleons of the drug world — amenable to a variety of uses, dependent on the user’s attitude. The importance of set and setting cannot be overstated. If you use them as intoxicants, you will become intoxicated. If you want to see pretty shapes and colors and “trip out” to music, then they will act as sensory enhancers. If you just want a new mode of consciousness that leads you to experience life in a novel way, they will satisfy that urge.

There’s nothing wrong with these approaches. “Getting fucked up” can be a completely legitimate reason to trip (though not the safest or most productive one). There’s no need for self-described “serious” psychonauts to condescend to recreational users. (See Sacredness is in the eye of the beholder for my thoughts on that issue.) Everyone enjoys sovereignty over his or her own consciousness — this is the meaning of cognitive liberty.

But the fact remains: these psychedelics can go much deeper than recreation. Those who never choose to explore psychedelics more seriously than as intoxicants or sense-enhancers will miss out on their greatest potential. Why stop at pretty sounds and colors when these medicines can catalyze deep epiphanies and lasting change?

Because they encourage such ruthless honesty, these molecules are ideal mirrors for the art of self-reflection.

And psychedelics are very much agents of change. They can show you your shadow self, dragging your insecurities and internal conflicts into the light for examination. They mediate a conversation, even a partnership, with the subconscious, unseating your deepest assumptions and leading you to question the most rigid habits and biases. Psychedelics are molecular battering rams, crumbling the castle called Ego, often raising from the rubble a profound feeling of pure love and unity.

They can introduce you to God, bridging for a time the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the human and divine spheres of existence. Perhaps more importantly, they can help you get to know yourself. Your real self, defenses down, moat drained, drawbridge lowered. Because they encourage such ruthless honesty, these molecules are ideal mirrors for the art of self-reflection.

Much of this potential is likely to pass the recreational user by. You often get what you ask for, and if your attitude does not predispose you to a therapeutic or spiritual trip, you are less likely to experience one. Of course, a casual user will sometimes stumble upon personal revelations quite by accident. Even the most stubborn eyes and minds can be opened, allowing some insights to filter in. Such is the power of these chemicals, and the human mind.

Leo Zeff

Leo Zeff, the underground psychedelic therapist profiled in The Secret Chief Revealed, believed that a trip’s value is in catalyzing personal growth.

But those who approach the psychedelic experience with respect and intention will learn much more from their trips, and will be better prepared to integrate those lessons into their daily lives. As Leo Zeff, a pioneer of the underground psychedelic therapy movement, used to say, the quality of a trip is measured not by your experience that day, but how you grow in the subsequent months as a result. If we commit ourselves to being accountable to the insights received, then every trip can become a transformative event, a tool for self-realization. The best kind of trip is one you grow from.

Casual trippers often overlook two important stages of tripping: preparation and integration. Without attending to these steps the user is unable to reach the pinnacle of a truly therapeutic trip and maximize the learning process. Many people don’t realize that psychedelics are a school — and like any school, you need to do your homework. I’ll elaborate on preparation and integration in future posts; they are terrific methods for making the most of the dose.

Myron Stolaroff, a researcher and advocate of psychedelic psychotherapy, describes how recreational use tends to taper off:

The use of psychedelics is self-regulating in most cases. Their true purpose is to enhance growth and interior development. Used only for pleasure, or abused, the Inner Self is thwarted, which leads to unpleasant experiences and depression. Though everyone who pursues the use of psychedelics for personal growth must be prepared for the “dark night of the soul” experiences, those who seek only entertainment will lose interest in these substances.

Tripping for entertainment may lose its charm, but tripping for personal growth can lead the intrepid psychonaut to ever greater heights over years of directed use. Rewards increase as self-understanding deepens.

Transformation is the highest purpose we can set for ourselves when exploring consciousness. “Psyche-delic” means mind-revealing, and indeed, seeing oneself more completely may be the most psychedelic activity there is. I take Leo Zeff’s advice, measuring a trip’s true value by how much I grow from it afterwards. Heck, that’s a great way to rate any experience, psychedelic or not: how has it changed your life?

While I honor every individual’s right to choose how to explore consciousness, I encourage those of you who have never had the pleasure to try out the self-discovery approach. If you trip, trip with intent. Bring questions to explore. Treat it with gravity and respect, like a therapeutic session. That’s what the psychedelic experience can be: a deep and honest interview with yourself. Plan to dig deep, committing yourself to confronting all conflicts and negative feelings as they arise.

Best of all, “tripping with intent” not an alternative method so much as a complementary one. People use psychedelics for all sorts of reasons — to improve sex, deepen their connection with nature, channel the divine, explore their internal emotional landscape, and so on. A focus on self-discovery, with proper preparation, method, and post-trip integration, will help bring more meaning to all of these activities.

Focus on your deepest emotions before, during, and after the trip, and you will wind up with extraordinary lessons from the other side of the psychedelic frontier.

Besides, an LSD trip can last twelve hours, and shrooms is at least six. That’s plenty of time for a variety of activities and settings. If you’re accustomed to recreational tripping, especially in a social setting, try setting aside some alone time on each trip for quiet introspection. Then ask yourself, what’s holding me back in life? How does my behavior compare to my goals and self-beliefs? What would I like to change about my life? Don’t just think through the questions; feel them. Focus on your deepest emotions before, during, and after the trip, and you will wind up with extraordinary lessons from the other side of the psychedelic frontier.

If you’re looking for more specific guidance about tripping for self-discovery, stay tuned! That’s the main goal of this blog — to awaken people to the highest potential of psychedelics; to help you make the most of the dose. In the meantime, you can read up on psychedelic psychotherapy and trip guides. Researchers like James Fadiman, Myron Stolaroff, Leo Zeff and others have shed some light on the best techniques for therapeutic tripping. You don’t need a psychology degree to gain insight from psychedelics; you just need to pay attention.

psychedelic-explorers-guide-fadiman secret chief revealed

If you’ve experienced positive results from tripping with intent, share your experience with others! Give your “recreational” friends the opportunity to take tripping more seriously. Some people will resist, but others will be ecstatic that you opened their eyes to the higher potential of these chemicals. You never know, it just might change someone’s life.


About Cody
Cody Johnson is an intrepid psychonaut and humanist who writes about mind-expanding plants and compounds at His book, Magic Medicine, is an armchair adventurer’s guide to all things psychedelic: their history, emerging scientific research, therapeutic and spiritual applications, and legality.


Challenging experiences often end up being our most valuable and offer the most opportunity for learning and growth. This year has been challenging to many of us in many different ways and as such provides plenty of fuel for a fruitful end of year review.

Today I have 2 questions that allow you to do year review and allow the lessons from the year to sink in a little deeper. This was a historic year, and in the future, when people ask: ‘how was 2020 for you?’, you will have a pretty nice idea 😉

I encourage you to take an hour or two to sit down and journal your answers to these 2 questions. 

1. What were the most significant events and experiences of your year?

If you need further prompting, think… emotional, spiritual, physical, mental.
You can make a timeline and run through January to December

2. What did you learn in 2020?

What were your biggest lessons? What was the universe trying to teach you in 2020?
Your timeline of the year will be useful as a reference point here.


The first question should begin to make a narrative of your year and your story arc as the year progressed. The 2nd will help to consider the lessons and make you more aware of them. With just these 2 questions and a little bit of time, you will be able to unpack a lot a have a fruitful end of year review.

Review With Friends

If you have a friend or friends that are interested, you can do it with them as a group activity. I had a great time doing this with some friends recently. The group dynamic and hearing about each others journeys over the year allowed further opportunities for connection and reflection. It worked well to have a round for sharing after time for journaling on each question.

You can also come up with some other questions together that might be fun. Here are some others we came up with:

How did COVID 19 affect you?

Which people influenced you the most in 2020?

This was a really fun one. You can do this one as a countdown, like a top 5 or top 3.

How have your values changed in 2020 compared to 2019?

What occupied your time this year?

How did you spend the minutes and hours that made up this year? What were the projects you worked on? What were your habits? Who were the people you were around?


Best wishes for 2021

Who knows what the year ahead is going to hold but with a little reflection at the end of this year I’m sure you’ll find some direction to head into 2021. I wish you happy holidays and an excellent start into the new year.