The first thing you need in order to chronicle your losses is a journal. Buy a notebook specifically for this purpose. Try to find one that is a little different from those you usually buy. Choose a different color, size, or design. This is a way of getting out of habitual ruts. Find a good time each day to work in your journal. Before you get started, take a few moments to get centered. Give yourself the gift of some calm reflection. Breathe in and out through your nostrils, relax your body, center yourself, and allow yourself to settle and quiet down. Tune in to your inner self.

Start listing your greatest losses from the top of the page down. Just jot down whatever comes to mind. This is not a test; nothing has to be alphabetized. Skim the surface at first, and just see what comes up. Don't worry about whether or not you are writing exquisite prose. In some ways journal writing in this way corresponds with the tantric principle of getting it all out until you are exhausted and then seeing who you are at the bedrock level. Some people are working through a current loss; others are enmeshed and caught up in the past. Start from wherever you are.

After you have skimmed the surface, you might want to consolidate your loss list or break it down into categories such as "material loss," "relationship loss," "lost opportunities," or "lost dreams," to name just a few possibilities. Which areas stand out for you? . . .

With each of your losses, reflect on what happened. Reflect on your deepest feelings and get into the details. When you start writing, you might be surprised at the losses that take priority. . . .

With each loss that you write down, ask yourself the following question: What did I really lose? List the answers and work them through. For example, if you lost your job, and one of your losses is a sense of status, ask: "Is this really important to me? And why?"

Here are some suggestions for questions to get you started.

What did I really lose?
Why did I lose it?
Have I healed from this loss?
Will I ever heal from this loss?
Do I want to heal from this loss?
If I have healed, what lessons have I learned about myself?
What lessons can I apply to current or future loss?
Have I stopped blaming myself?
What can I do to be more accepting and forgiving of my own behavior?

Name and write down the feelings you are experiencing. . . .

Every loss leaves us with feelings and emotions that need processing. Use your journal to write down what you are feeling because of your loss. Which feelings are you having a difficult time releasing? Ask yourself:

Am I still angry and bitter?
Why am I still hanging on to losses that have no real meaning in my life?
Am I hanging on to unrealistic fantasies and illusions around my loss? (For example: Do I believe that my ex-partner will someday return?)
How can I let go of my negative feelings?

Remember that writing is as cathartic as it is creative. Often when we have lost something, we blame ourselves. . . . Getting more in touch with your feelings about the major, and minor, losses in your life can help you heal and forgive yourself. This can be an important first step on the road back to wholeness.

Lama Surya Das in Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be