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I Feel You, Teachers!

Most people just want to feel heard. Most people, when stressed or upset, just want someone to listen and empathize without judgement.

It’s hard to find a person who understands the special demands of teaching— someone who doesn’t have any stake in you or your status; someone who does not work with you or rely on you nor someone who will rat you out or make you paranoid or believe that you suck or are weak.

You need another person who understands the stresses and joys and challenges of teaching AND who is trained in empathic listening.

I am a former high school teacher, author, life coach and soon to be mental heath counselor. I want to counsel and coach teachers from now until forever because I think we get neglected and are severely misunderstood. This pandemic is surely twisting things even tighter for teachers, and I want to help!

If you are a parent and want to give your kids teachers a great gift, send them a nice note with a link to my site or my contact info below.

landscapesforlearning27@gmail.com

Tell them you don’t really understand what they must be going through but that you know someone who does and can be of service and genuine support.

I want to help as many people as I can during this pandemic using my unique skills.

Please teachers, don’t be shy. It’s totally confidential and you have my word on that! I’m on YOUR side!

Please feel free to reach out to chat if you want more information. Read my About page for a bit of my background, my blog to see the sort of things I write about, and listen to a podcast or two. Also check out my posts on Facebook. 

 

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COLLEGE SCANDAL, VALUES & VITALITY

 REAL Priorities or Surface Concerns?

I read this article from Education Week this morning, confirming the need for what my LFL mission can deliver to students and their parents (who don’t have to get the wisdom curriculum IN school necessarily– they can access my book and online workshops!) to help them be wise and well, not merely to become well-educated in an academic sense/setting. I am trying to sell the idea that a quality life as a healthy and ethical and compassionate human being is the foundational education that underlies all other kinds of success. In fact, I would love to redefine success entirely. I don’t care about “performing well academically in college” as much as I care about nurturing healthy, whole, and fully-integrated human BEINGS (not just human DOERS). I left education to focus on teaching people HOW TO BE IN LIFE rather than only focusing on WHAT TO DO with their lives.

The article below is a classic example of how we talk about wholeness and wellness related to young people only as it relates to our current over-valuation of college success. Can we reverse this article’s priorities? Can we educate our kids for wisdom and wellness FIRST and then talk about college success as one of the many results of a healthy and meaningful human experience?

In There’s More to College Prep Than Academics b (Education Week 

Colleges place significant weight on a student’s grade point average, class rank, and standardized test scores in the admissions process. For decades, these measures have informed how K-12 schools design curricula and counsel students on college readiness.

Yet grades and SAT results alone are ineffective predictors of students’ college success. Other factors come into play when understanding why some students positively transition to college and persist, while others drop out. In fact, more than a quarter of first-year students who started college in the fall of 2016 failed to return to college the following year.

A wealth of additional skills is needed to thrive—not just survive—in college, including conscientiousness and effective study habits. A 2012 study on college success by Larry A. Sparkman, Wanda S. Maulding, Jalynn Roberts, and colleagues suggested that students who demonstrated stronger emotional intelligence were better able to handle the rigors of college.

School counselors are well-positioned to offer meaningful support that could lead to lower college dropout rates and stronger retention rates. Everything from sound mental health to social inclusion affects students’ experience on campus. Beyond just academics, school counselors and college advisers should also address the soft skills needed to flourish in college, including social skills, an appreciation for diversity, personal health care, financial literacy, time management, and organizational skills.

Conversations between counselors and students about mental health is especially vital, as evidenced by the prevalence of college students battling anxiety, depression, substance abuse, or thoughts and acts of self-harm. [Could it be that our priorities are inverted?]

It’s time to take college prep beyond grades, FAFSA applications, and test scores—the academic, financial, logistical, and competitive aspects of the process. Going forward, school counselors must consider the following steps to prepare students for all that college entails:

1. Revamp curricula. Preparing students for the academic, social, and emotional rigor of college requires a comprehensive curriculum implemented by school counselors. San Francisco State University researcher Patricia Van Velsor encourages school counselors to reimagine their curricula to include developing social-emotional learning, executive functioning, and social skills as part of college readiness. According to Van Velsor, this model of counseling students on the college-going process is just as important as academics to their mental health, adjustment, and persistence when they transition to higher education.

2. Encourage extracurricular involvement. Numerous studies conducted over the years by several researchers have demonstrated that students who physically get involved with their campus perform better academically and graduate at higher rates. Students need to be encouraged at the K-12 levels to join clubs, sports, faith-based events, volunteer groups, and other activities outside of school. These extracurriculars can help students be more outgoing, have more friends, feel a stronger sense of belonging, and demonstrate better attachment and positive adjustment to their schools and community. Students already engaged in activities in the years prior to college are better positioned to continue during college.

3. Integrate psychoeducational groups. Incorporate certain types of group therapy into school counseling and college advising curricula to help students develop the interpersonal skills needed for successful peer-to-peer interactions. In their 2007 book, Evidence-Based School Counseling, Carey Dimmitt, John C. Carey, and Trish Hatch argue that school counselors trained on group development and group facilitation are better suited to support students’ mental-health needs and offer strategies that encourage personal-emotional growth. 

4. Bring soft skills into the conversation. Connect with college-bound students about the soft skills needed to persist in college, including budgeting, establishing academic and personal efficacy and resilience, maintaining mental health, and knowing where to seek support if needed. Discussions about nutrition, hygiene, and physical activity are key, too.

Living with roommates, overcoming homesickness, effectively managing one’s time, and developing self-identity are often part of the college experience, too. For instance, making friends and developing the ability to network can make a large campus feel more accessible, while a circle of friends establishes a community, all of which can help ensure students remain in school. Researcher Janice McCabe studied the formation of college friendships, concluding that the friend networks students build during college can have discernible academic benefits—and even shape social and work lives after college.

Research also suggests that individuals with a good sense of executive function, including being able to read the emotions of others and regulate one’s own emotions, are better equipped for college and a career.

5. Think differently about the right “fit.” The College Board recommends that selecting a college with the right “fit” should be based on location, size, type of college (e.g., two-year or four-year), and majors. It neglects to mention how the college represents students culturally, racially, and ethnically in its demographic makeup. College campuses lacking diversity may cause psychological and emotional distress for students of color. Counselors need to advise students to be intentional in choosing colleges based on whether the campus reflects their racial and cultural needs, offers leadership opportunities, and is located in a community that demographically reflects their personality and identity.[Do young people know who they are?]

College-bound students with high test scores but poor social skills are not necessarily well-equipped to handle the nuances of college beyond the classroom. Far more benefit would come from actively developing high school students’ emotional intelligence, mental health, and organization skills, along with racial and cultural identity.

EYES ALWAYS ON EXTERNAL PRIZES

(and the nefarious and corrupt who will do anything to achieve them!)

Ultimately what I am trying to promote HERE AT LANDSCAPES FOR LEARNING is slowing down enough to be present in one’s own life (body and mind) and to look within to learn more about who one is. Rather than predominantly focusing on achievement, I am encouraging more attention to intrinsic understanding, acceptance, and love of one self. I  am encouraging and teaching about why and how to observe one’s own moment-to-moment experiences and reflect on them continually to learn more about what one’s own life teaches.

When I was teaching yoga and high school students, I could see clearly, when on the frontline with high school seniors, how much they (and their parents) would have benefitted from yoga, which I define as self-study for self-realization: this includes stillness, present-moment awareness, introspection and reflection, and it is practiced not MERELY to accomplish or achieve or reach goals on the timeline of their lives (horizontal landscape), but because of how much more fulfilled they’d be and how deeply engaged they’d be in their vertical landscape of their own being. This deeper connection, awareness, and awakening to one’s own truth and integrity is the foundation of “outward success” whatever that looks like for each unique person. This type of “success” in knowing oneself is wisdom that provides people with “enough” and a “feeling of fullness” so that chasing goals to fill one’s socially constructed, competitive and compared self becomes far less urgent, thus more balance ensues.

Of course, it is great to learn about what works for others and to gain information that could be helpful which is what self-help and standardized curriculum is typically comprised of, but what works for some does not always apply to each individual person. We are all the same to a degree, yet so unique in personality and physical, mental, intellectual, and psychological constitution.

At LFL, my aim is to encourage you to make the time to point your attention inward, at least more often or as often as you point your attention to others and the future and the external world that’s constantly demanding your attention.  Read the book of you in addition to what you can read and learn from the “outside” world. Experience in education and in the world of yoga showed me how much the balance is off because the outside world has got a death grip on our attention (thus our values– where we spend most of our time and energy, thus stress) without us really being aware of it!  I TRULY BELIEVE THAT EACH ONE OF US CAN BE OUR OWN BEST TEACHER, AUTHORITY, AUTHOR, AND WELLNESS EXPERT IF WE COULD SLOW DOWN ENOUGH TO PAY ATTENTION TO OUR INNER LANDSCAPES!

LFL’S MISSION IS TO INSPIRE  & MOTIVATE YOUNG PEOPLE TO PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THEIR INTRINSIC SENSE OF SELF  RATHER THAN ONE’S SOCIAL IMAGE!

To this end, I don’t love formal education’s over-emphasis on group identity or focusing predominantly on social-interpersonal skills (how to be nice to other people etc..) because I happen to believe (and feel free to criticize me and disagree) that if people knew, accepted, loved, and attended to their inner landscapes that they’d be far more compassionate and socially adept on the external landscapes of life. It’s no coincidence that a Mindfulness Movement has erupted yet SADLY I see how schools co-opt this by USING it as a tool to serve their utilitarian values which are outcomes and results-focused—that is, for kids to “do better” in measurable ways, to be more productive, competitive, higher achievers, and…umm… “successful.”

So yes, of course college students will be more successful in their endeavors by developing persistence and other “soft skills” that are related to their integrity— that is—of knowing on a deep, intimate level who they REALLY are. This is self realization that can come from self-study. And self-actualization (unlocking one’s potential) is the result of this ongoing process!  That’s BEING FULLY ALIVE AND WELL. Being a successful college student pales in comparison.

My LFL curriculum  (my self-directed wisdom curriculum for modern humans or self-study for self-realization guide and workshops and resources) is not social-emotional curricula; is not character-education, is not mindfulness meditation (but includes all 3). I never wanted what I am doing to get co-opted by the institution of school, and so that’s why I left education to create my own space online where learning, real inner and personal learning can be done on one’s own, privately, quietly, intrinsically motivated, without grading, and encouraging only self-assessment– authentic, real assessment that has value for the learner and is practically applicable to one’s own unique life!

 

 

 

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Anti-fragility Training

Bikram Yoga as Anti-fragility Training

Bikram Yoga helps people develop distress tolerance which is the ability to withstand challenge– some of which include emotional distress, difficult physical sensations, mind-racing or distorted thinking, and general discomfort with staying in the present moment. What’s the point of being able to withstand challenge? Shouldn’t we just eliminate challenge to make the world and all of our experiences in it nicer? Um, no.

Bikram yoga is EN–COURAGING.

That means you become courageous through practicing self-study for self-realization. What is self-realization? You pay attention to how you respond to challenge– to being YOU, and you practice nurturing the thoughts and habits that make you flexible and resilient and discard the habits that make you weak and fragile.

Anti-fragility: Yogis bend; they don’t break! 

The fear, pain, and challenges NEVER go away (someone will hurt your feelings, steal from you, and other injustices, even the injustices you inflict upon yourself from negative thinking; shaming etc— count on it because this is human nature), but you CAN DEVELOP YOUR ABILITIES AND CAPACITIES to cope, survive, and dare I say even thrive! This development is one of both MIND and BODY.

QUIZ

QUESTION: So guess what the antidote to stress (whether from fear, threats (real or imagined), problems, mean people, oppression, offensive “violent” language, vulnerability, confusion, and bullying) is?

(*HINT: It’s not running away and it’s not distraction.)

A. Living in a bubble of protection, safe-spaces, and being coddled thus missing valuable opportunities to grow stronger, courageous and wiser.

B. Practicing with gradual exposure to difficulty and challenge to develop trust and faith in your abilities (that maybe you didn’t know you had!) and gain a greater sense of self, independence, and personal power.

C. See the world as good versus evil (without room for nuance) or worse “good groups” vs “bad groups” and fight the enemy until peace, justice, and perfect equality reigns (i.e. utopia)

D. Ignore compassion, forgiveness, friendship, and that people are prone to error, bias, negativity, and flawed and working through their own trial and error

 

Podcast HERE

The answer is B.

Yes, of course, there are actual injustices, abuses, and REAL threats to our safety, but the “concept creep” that Haidt & Lukianoff, 2018 talk about in their book has created a culture of coddling– a fear of fear and pain; a world where we try to control others to make our own always-pleasant-safe-spaces where trigger warnings will alert us to any potential intellectual offense that may make us feel emotionally distressed or uncomfortable. Where nobody gets hurt– ever. A place where behavior and ideas that differ from our own cannot possibly be tolerated because they cause us discomfort.

The best learning is uncomfortable and stressful because it catapults you from a safe space to an unsafe space; from a place of security to insecurity and back again and it never ends. Might as well decide you will try to enjoy this process, otherwise you will continue to suffer more and be forever frustrated that you cannot control other people and your environment or anything that may threaten. Accept vulnerability and pain and see them as your best teachers. This is the practice of yoga.

Sure, people make mistakes and bad things happen, but DO NOT accept continual extreme physical or psychological abuse or extreme danger, even the kind you might inflict upon yourself. There are extremes, but these are well, extreme, thus highly unusual or out of the norm. MOST transgressions are forgivable and can be managed as opportunities for personal growth.

One of the worst things you can do is deny people, especially young people/kids, opportunities to build resilience and hone their skills for stress management.  Altering the learning process of direct experience– by censoring it, sanitizing it, limiting it, short-cutting it, or overly-controlling it is disempowering too. This kind of tyranny will destroy creativity, cooperation, friendship and growth. It turns out that facing your challenges and learning to cope with them is what makes you healthy and gives you purpose. As we say in Bikram Yoga– we will not spare you your struggle– to do so is an injustice! You practice suffering to get better at it rather than fighting tooth and nail to be pain-free which is an exercise in futility.

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Podcast 17: LEARNING as OPPORTUNITY MINDSET

In this podcast, I read Part V: LEARNING from

Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon).

The podcast includes subtopics like:

*Vulnerability as intrinsic to learning process and creating meaning

*Parenting without safe-space or victim mentality

*Schooling discourages failure and uniqueness

*How and why to continue learning as a lifestyle and as a moment-to-moment mindset

*Curiosity and Possibility (Adopting a Landscapes for Learning mindset)

 

Stream the podcast here, Download it, or visit Landscapes for Learning @ iTunes.

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Opportunity Mindset = Meaning & Wellness

Q. What is Landscapes for Learning?

A. It’s a mindset—-an opportunity-focused way of looking at the world of personal experience.
You can CHOOSE to see your life any way you decide. Just decide!

Q. Why did I name this blog and my independent education website and business,
Landscapes for Learning?

A. Lots of reasons, but primarily because I discovered that life is a landscape upon which we all travel and all of our experiences–– whether the experiences happen on our ‘inner’ landscape: within our mind and body, deep down within our hearts or our souls, in places nobody but us is privy to where the absolute truth of us lives, or on the ‘outer’ landscape: the social and natural world (that appears to be separate from us but arguably isn’t), which is the public world beyond us––are FOR LEARNING.

Just like Will in Goodwill Hunting,

We are MOST ALIVE & WELL when we are learning. I don’t mean only when we are reading, writing, and doing arithmetic!

Like Will learned, all the knowledge in the world will not help you live well and fully actualize if you don’t know who you are by learning from your direct experience with your suffering, your challenges, i.e. your opportunities.

I became somewhat (okay, very) disillusioned at the end of my career as a high school teacher because my students had been conditioned to believe that “learning” was limited to “schooling” which was a competitive race to achieve. This made me sick because it was making kids sick. It is a terribly limiting way to go through life. Because almost ALL of the attention and energy was given to this type of “learning” in school, students were stunted in their growth as whole, fully-expressed human individuals. AND they were getting more ill (more anxious about grades and their identities more narrowly confined to socially-constructed images) over the years that I had spent time getting to know them as human beings with unique natures.

As a Humanities teacher, I was interested in knowing the people I worked with, relating to and connecting with them, beyond merely interacting with them in a coldly rational, business-like manner, as if they were academic specimen expected to produce and meet various outcomes (e.g. for parents or college admission). I was interested in the process of learning, not the outcomes of schooling. It became a difficult problem for me, for kids, and for parents.

Now, I help people get out of “Safe Spaces!”

I was and still am interested in empowering young people to know themselves (in a deep way through body and mind, not just by acquiring information) and their human nature and uniqueness in order to express themselves from a place of truth and integrity, and to take responsibility for themselves, so that they can unconditionally love and parent themselves, thus live with meaning and optimism and enjoy their lives which will include great challenge, adventure, suffering, fear, and pain.

My job  was and is to en-courage people, that is, teach them how to develop courage by facing problems and their fears, manage vulnerability and stress that comes with it, develop discipline to do what’s challenging, and see these challenges as opportunities to discover more truth about themselves–– more of who they are and who they are becoming, what they are made of, both assets and weaknesses, and to reveal their endless potential to themselves to actualize as a never ending trial and error process!

Trying and failing in school is WAY different than trying and failing in life.

Institutionalized schooling prevented students growth and my own, so I left to teach a wisdom and wellness curriculum (rationale, tools, and practices) that will absolutely meet kids where they are at and to TRULY en-courage them to be LIFE–LONG LEARNERS— in the REAL sense, not in the hypocritical, limiting sense promoted (with perhaps the best intentions) in institutionalized public schooling. It seems to be a gargantuan task and an uphill battle, but I like challenge! It felt incredibly subversive to teach in ways that opposed the system, and it’s incredibly freeing to be able to share my mission now beyond it “in the real world.” I am trying to independently educate young people (and all people, anyone who is interested!) with a wisdom curriculum for their wellness, and since more people can be accessed online, I hope to reach far more people than I could while stuck in a classroom in a building. I’m not sure anyone has read any of my blog posts, but I continue to have faith as Ray did in Field of Dreams, that if I build it they will come. And if not, that’s okay too! I don’t focus on outcomes; I trust the process.

If one person at a time can grow in wisdom and wellness and express their true, unique nature, then that’s good for everyone. The “secondhand smoke” effect of one healthy person can transform the world, one person at a time.

You have no idea how many lives you can change for the better simply by being the best YOU possible!

My curriculum––a self-study for self-realization guide––can help you whether young or old,
highly ‘educated’ or not,
to get started on
traveling the landscapes for learning!

 

 

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Wise Up!

Landscapes for Learning: Wisdom Curriculum for Modern Humans

“The function of education is to help you from childhood, not to imitate anybody, but to be yourself all the time.”
—Jiddu Krishnamurti

A self-study curriculum completes true education where you become a whole, fully integrated person, better prepared for life right now, in each moment, and able to ride the waves of the unpredictable future. In the modern world, taking on the challenge of knowing yourself to grow in wisdom is not only the answer, it will be, ironically, your oasis of calm in the sea of information overwhelm and rapid change.

Learning is the meaning and purpose of your one, unique life. You are always changing, so you’ll always have new things to learn about yourself. Unlike schooling, which is the sort of limited, conditional learning for earning approval from others in the form of grades or rewards and accolades, authentic life learning is a journey of trial and error where trying and failing is the point and connection to one’s inner wisdom is the result! By knowing yourself better, you’ll likely learn radical acceptance of your own humanity, coming to love all of who you are and appreciating all of life (not just the stuff you want). Imagine that? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October Workshop!

Want to be better, kinder, and more understanding to yourself?

Come Learn About

Self-Study for Self-Realization

at

Bikram Yoga Danvers

October 19th, 2019

Noon-1:00 p.m.

Signed copies of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide (2019) will be available for purchase!

Hosted by

Landscapes for Learning, LLC

 

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Balance!

WHAT DO WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF? 

SPEED, CLUTTER, NOISE, INFORMATION & “EXPERTS”

WHAT DO WE LACK?

SLOWING DOWN & STILLNESS, INTROSPECTION & REFLECTION

WHAT DO WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF ?

KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXTERNAL LANDSCAPE; EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION

WHAT DO WE LACK ?

KNOWLEDGE OF THE INTERNAL; INTERNAL MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION 

 

WHAT TO DO for BALANCE ? 

Empower Individuals with Wisdom for Wellness

Visit Amazon.com for a copy of the

Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness

A Wisdom Curriculum For Authentic Learning Beyond Schooling and for Fostering Our Shared Humanity!

 

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A Reading List for Hannah

A few months ago, a yoga student at my studio asked me what I read. She wanted a list of recommendations. So, Hannah, this is a visual of what’s on my Kindle App and the few books in my living room at the moment! This list is incomplete because, well, I am old and I have read a lot throughout my life. And, a few years ago, I was too attached to who my library told me I was, so in a minimalist-inspired moment, I donated MOST of my books. (I wrote a blog post about that experience called “Real Teaching is Risky Business”) More recently, I moved, and so many of the books I did keep are packed away in boxes. Their wisdom is in my heart and manifest in my behavior (for good I hope more than for ill) because I am not very good at keeping information in my mind for very long. If it really matters and impacts me deeply, then I internalize it. Oh, and just so you know, some of the books below were for my continuing professional education as well as others that belong to my kids! e.g. The Hunger Games, Sarah’s Key 🙂 Yes, my AAA card is there too. I highly recommend AAA as they have rescued me from many a flat tire. LOL.

Many more books also live in my Audible Library, as I have begun to listen to books while I walk my dog, Finn. I also listen to a boatload of podcasts (find a short list of those in the blog post called “Practicing Gratitude”) which in a way, I consider part of my library for learning.

In addition to the books below, many more titles, online articles, podcasts, and videos also live in the References pages at the end of my most recent book, Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness available in Kindle and Paperback versions at Amazon.com.   The Kindle version is cool because you can click on the many resources I used to write the book and travel down the same rabbit holes I did to learn more about yourself.

So, for Hannah and anyone else interested….here’s a short, visual reading list below.

I bought this last book in Kauai, Hawaii, while waiting in line to pay for my groceries. It’s called MORE: Do More of What Makes You Feel Alive written by Kobi Yamada and designed by Jill Labieniec.

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How to Use the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide for Wellness

“To know yourself you need not go to any book, to any priest, to any psychologist. The whole treasure is within yourself.”

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

Each of the five parts of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Bikram Yoga Teacher’s Self Study Guide for Wellness contains a rationale, helpful definitions, self-study exercises, and prompts for journal writing. (Additional information related to self study can be found in the Appendices & References at the end of the Guide.)

The activities contained within the self study program: self-observation and audits, introspection, writing, meditation, Bikram Yoga practice, and listening are meant to get you started on your journey to know yourself better. Some practices will be more useful or more comfortable than others. Most can be repeated, some can be modified to suit your needs and others entirely ignored. It’s up to you because it’s your personal curriculum, your individual education plan. There are no due dates or tests, as your personal learning is up to you. You are your own teacher. 

Self-Directed Learning 

Use the Self Study Guide constantly or intermittently over the course of your days, years, and life time. It’s up to you to learn by teaching yourself, using your own direct experience and by tailoring the resources and practices contained in the Self Study Guide to fit your needs as you continually grow and change. You have 100% control over the process and all of the responsibility. Like any exercise for better fitness, you will get out of it what you put into it!

Once you become adept with using the Self Study Guide and its practices, you’ll likely form good habits of reflection and introspection that will, over time, seem like second nature to you, and hopefully, the fruits of your labor will further inspire and motivate you to continue growing in wisdom and wellness.

When you use the Guide, you may focus on one, two, or all five of the aspects of it to improve your life. Or you can begin with any of the five parts you choose, although beginning with Part I: Attention and working your way around the wheel clockwise or in the order the parts are listed is recommended.

Since the wisdom of knowing oneself is timeless and classic, the Self-Study Guide will be useful both immediately and far into the future, repeatedly throughout your life at the times and places of your choosing. And once you become familiar with the five aspects of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide, you can revisit any or all of them whenever you’ve lost your way and need to reconnect with your inner world.

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Yoga is Union

“You don’t know who you are!”

When Bikram Choudhury, the author of the specific type of yoga I practice, said, “You don’t know who you are” to me and my fellow prospective Bikram Yoga Teachers on our first day of Teacher Training, I immediately got defensive. I balked, “What does he mean that I don’t know who I am? Of course I do! I know exactly who I am!” And then I silently recited to myself  a reassuring list of labels and titles: mother, divorcée, girlfriend, college graduate, professional educator, published author, in addition to an endless list of personal preferences, skills, physical descriptors, and other mental images I lived according to and that I believed defined “me.” Soon, I would add Bikram Yoga Teacher to this list which would make me… who exactly? 

Self Image or Truth?

I had heard the many criticisms about this controversial guru and his antics, so I chalked up his statement to his notorious reputation. I focused on psyching myself up for “getting through” the physical challenge his rigorous nine-week training would bring, yet my own resistance to long held notions about who I thought I was would become the real challenge. Studying my long held conception of my “self” would be the impetus for major transformation of my perspective of reality and about the meaning of my very own life. Bikram was 100% right, of course: I had no clue about who I really was. But I was about to learn, continuously, without interruption and without intermission, that this yoga I was practicing and hoping to teach wasn’t only about physical fitness and wellness. For me, Bikram Yoga is about the wisdom that comes from self study for self realization. The toughest part of it, for me, is that it requires radical honesty. It is about facing and accepting reality as it is, not abandoning suffering or pain, learning, and change. Funny to look back now at my fairly random choice to just try a little yoga for a good workout. 

Values & Wellness

Understandably, it seems a bit crazy for anyone to suggest that you don’t know who you are. But the truth is, most people really don’t know who they are, likely because they have been raised in a fast and furious Western culture with values and priorities that not only fail to include introspection and self understanding but that in many ways condition us for un-wellness.  Yes, our values are directly related to our health and wellbeing. 

Time on Learning

In addition to my own lifelong, personal educational experiences, I saw while working as public school teacher how American students are taught to focus primarily on and value what is external—by that, I mean, we value “time on learning” practical skills and content knowledge in order to compete in an economic landscape, one filled with comparison and a race to some “top” or “end” where we are told we will find our happiness and fulfillment— the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We are schooled to achieve— to find happiness and satisfaction once the prize, award, grade, salary, acceptance, or fame is gotten…and then the next and the next and the next, and if we die too soon, the tragedy is that we did not achieve our full potential. Although hard skills and economic survival are critically important, of course, it isn’t the entire preparation required for being a good, healthy, whole human being and living a fulfilling and meaningful life— no matter how short or long we are fated to be here.

Wholeness

Our education system pays lip service to the development of the “whole child,” while in reality, the  institutionalized approach to teaching and learning neglects character development, creative expression, and soft skills. The imbalance in where we pay our attention—outward more often than inward is clear when we look at the results: increasing mental illness, anxiety, obesity, addiction, and other forms of unnecessary suffering that permeate our society. We really don’t know who we are. 

We teach kids about what to do with their “outer lives” and how to shape their “self” image rather than showing them how to cultivate who they are as human beings by exploring their “inner lives.” 

It’s Not About the Grades

I saw firsthand as a teacher and parent of four how school administrators, guidance counselors, and parents were more interested in the achievement of grades and prestigious college admission than time spent learning what it means to become oneself as a human being– it’s simply not our priority. We don’t value integration and wholeness perhaps because pain, problems, suffering, and sacrifice are involved with the process of becoming a true person— a person of integrity, authenticity and uniqueness. And we wonder why even the most successful and highest achievers in our society are unfulfilled or ill. We’ve simply not dedicated enough attention and energy to wholeness, being rather than doing, truth, and love. Instead, we have conditioned our children to live by primarily relying on their thinking minds and the frantic acquisition of knowledge for material gain rather than remaining open to listening to and following their heart and soul for wisdom and wellness. 

Yoga is Union: Antidote to Disconnection

We are, indeed, products of our environment, our modern lives defined by information overwhelm, artificial intelligence, excess, avoiding discomfort and pain at all costs, loneliness and disconnection, and illness rooted in chronic stress. It’s more challenging than ever to find balance, connection, peace, and wellbeing in a place where we are continually bombarded to consume empty values, treated for symptoms rather than causes, and continually manipulated to look outside of ourselves (to diets, fitness regimens, the Self Help industry, and other perceived authorities) for answers rather than within—one’s own body, mind, and spirit— for loving acceptance and connection.   

We’ve been conditioned to not know ourselves by being taught to play roles, wear masks, and pretend rather than to be who we truly are (Singh, 2019). Thus, we become alien to ourselves because we are so distracted and manipulated to focus our attention on everything and everyone else but our true inner being. As a result, many of us fail to observe and understand our own feelings, behaviors, and thoughts, (there’s simply no time in the day to meditate!) never mind learn how to accept, cope with, and leverage them for wellness and a good life. Because we are so busy competing on the external landscapes of life, we simply aren’t taught how to travel our inner landscapes to learn about who we really are and express our true nature and uniqueness.

Classic Wisdom for Modern Humans: “Know Thyself”

I, too, am a product of such cultural conditioning, living most of my life according to and amidst comparison and competition to achieve goals I was encouraged to pursue by others. Because I was “a good kid” for the most part doing as I was expected, avoiding mistakes, and was successful in “my” endeavors, such outward focus and attention to external pursuits kept me disconnected from following my heart, loving myself, and living according to my true nature. Thankfully, two forms of introspection, or self study, guided me inward towards a reconnection and reunion: Bikram Yoga and daily journal writing. I’ve decided to share my personal tools for “knowing thyself” in the form of a Self Study Guide. 

           When I discovered Bikram Yoga, or should I say, when Bikram’s yoga found me, by accident, I found a prescription for personal transformation and wellness that I think all modern people could use, and, as it turns out, it’s the same wisdom the great sages have recommended since ancient times: “know thyself.” 

If you could use a little help answering the question, who am I, to become the person you really are and thus become more wise and well, this Self Study Guidefor Wellness can show you how to engage with reflective practices and healing modalities including Bikram Yoga, meditation, journal writing, and more. You can teach yourself: 

  1. about your own attention and how to turn it inward 
  2. to become more introspective to increase your self awareness; 
  3. about the purpose and value of facing challenges and fear (a little bit at a time!);
  4. about how making more informed and mindful choices from a central locus of control are keys to wellness; and 
  5. about how adopting a landscapes for learning mindset will help you become far more open to experience, curious, humble, and flexible.

Be Your Own Guru

No guru or guide can provide answers, cure you, give you self realization, awaken you, define your identity, or give you a secret for lasting contentment– not me, not Bikram Choudhury, nobody. A teacher can certainly open a door for learning for you, but only you, the student, can learn through your own conscious and deliberate application of the knowledge gained through learning and through your own direct experience of yourself and your life. You have to be your own guru. Only you can answer who you are and become the person you are meant to be.

“Look in the Mirror, Concentrate, Meditate and Begin…”

My most important teacher in my Bikram Yoga class is not the individual on the podium supplying me with the words to move and pose for ninety minutes. My teacher is in the mirror looking back at me— applying the prescription for wisdom and wellness, struggling to be honest, as she continually changes and reveals that she is always more than who she may think she is. 

 It’s not selfishness to study yourself to know who you are. It’s a process of self acceptance and self love so you can love others. People often talk about radical empathy as the impetus for creativity and healing (Heller, 2019), but our empathy and compassion for others must begin with showing ourselves empathy and compassion first. To truly serve others and share one’s gifts with the world is to be whole as oneself— to discover and live one’s truth. The entire process is a tremendous challenge which is exactly why you should do it. 

So, if you are curious about what it means to become the real you; if you are open and willing to learn about living in this time of rapid change as the true being that you are; and if you are interested in expressing your unique nature to live with more love, integrity, and vitality, then the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A (Bikram Yoga Teacher’s) Self Study Guide for Wellness provides five directions and tools you might find useful to access your own wisdom as you travel your own unique path of self discovery for self realization.

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95 Thousand Words

I spent a large portion of the last twelve months writing. I wrote for many hours almost every day. It seemed natural and normal.

Waves of creative expression passed through me into written form, and I tried to not obstruct the process. I really don’t know what to do with the content that came out, but something tells me that it’s time to stop creating and start sharing (as intimidating and uncomfortable as this seems).

Perfectly Imperfect

Neither collection of words I created (or scribed?) —49K and 46K words respectively— qualifies as anything that would fit into a particular genre. One lump of words is sort-of-a-memoir-but-not- really, and the other is a sort of soft skills curriculum I call a Self Study Guide for self realization, but in its current form, it’s a beast inaccessible to even the most devout self analyst. Neither manuscript has a specifically defined audience. Neither are of publishable quality. Neither has been revised nor professionally edited.

No Answers

I am not an idiot. I have written and published a book before. I know how it works. But this past year’s writing marathon has been a different kind of creative experience. I was not in charge. I was not the leader who set the goals and disciplined herself to attain them. None of this was exactly my idea. The 95 thousand words just tumbled out and are here for some apparent reason, but I am not 100 % sure what that reason is. And that’s cool.

Another Kind of Currency

I felt confident writing both manuscripts. I felt creative and happy and enjoyed sitting for hours writing, thinking, reading, and re-reading for one full year. It was work I felt inspired and compelled to do, thus it wasn’t work in the usual sense at all. It’s what I was supposed to be doing. I felt grateful to be doing it. I still feel grateful that I got to do it. The process granted me many opportunities to face fear and be vulnerable. I wrote and shared intimate feelings and thoughts; I shared my writing style and my most authentic voice. I shared the truth about myself with myself and others. I think that this type of currency is enough– that such intrinsic payoff is enough– to have been so fully engaged in so many vital moments, remaining open to receiving rather than employing the usual control and manipulation for some urgent, self-indulgent end or achievement. For an identity.

Weirdness and Woo-Woo

Despite all the weirdness and woo-woo that I am describing about my creative process, both manuscripts are entirely complete, share the common theme of expressing and living one’s truth, and their common purpose is that they were written to inspire and motivate people to actively pursue self realization, to know oneself and to actualize, because much of the illness pervading our modern world is rooted in ignorance about our selves– our true human nature and our uniqueness. We don’t know who we are. This truism is apparent to me, within my own experience, and I observe it and have been following other people who discuss it at length and address this phenomenon. So, what you’ll be getting in the future here at Landscapes for Learning will point you to those people and their work, as it is deeply embedded in mine.

Lost & Found

Like those I have learned from, in much of my writing, I urge people to become fully alive and well (before its too late) by engaging in the difficult process of becoming more of who they really are rather than who they are prescriptively taught to be by others. The not-really-a-memoir tells tries to tell about how we get lost (through our formal education system) and stay lost in our very own lives by disconnecting from ourselves, while the gargantuan and intimidating Self Study Guide provides ancient and modern wisdom to help us find ourselves, to reconnect to bring ourselves back to life, actual life, not a fake, conventionally prescribed one. As it turns out, it takes lots of time, willingness, courage, and attention to be alive and well as an actual human being, that is— to know who we are. It seems so simple to be oneself, yet it is not so easy at all.

Process & Product?

I don’t know if I am supposed to have merely had the experience of writing and creating for no other reason that to practice surrender, to practice not resisting, to do it as another step in the process of my personal development, or if I am supposed to make something else, some final product, out of the 95 thousand words that is silently resting in my Google Docs. I have no clear idea, but the same source that had me creating tells me I am supposed to give it all away now, as imperfect and as incomplete as it is, and to do so without any expectation of return. It also tells me that the 95 thousand words are not to become books, at least not now, so instead, you’ll find them here in this blog in various forms, perhaps within podcasts, and maybe even in the form of videos.

Let it Be & Be Led

As imperfect as my work surely is and as I surely am, I will let be what is meant to be. I’m going to stay with this process, trust intuition, and hope for the best, as I have been doing all along. I hope the 95 thousand words can do some good.

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Know Thyself, Part V: Learning

“Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose. There are no mistakes, no coincidences. All events are blessings given to us to learn from.”
—Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Self study is authentic learning. It’s about self-realization. It’s about becoming more uniquely YOU, as a human being. It’s about continual growth, vitality, and wellness—the kind of wellness characterized by truth, uniqueness, and wholeness, as opposed to the narrowly defined conventional standards of strictly intellectual, material, and financial success.

“Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.”
–Jiddu Krishnamurti

Schooling, or the acquisition of knowledge for social and economic achievement, is a limited kind of learning precisely because it is based on competition, measurement, and comparison. Although intellectual development is obviously very important, it is only one part of becoming a more integrated and whole human person. Broader, more authentic learning is a never ending process; it is steeped in direct personal experience, trial and error, careful reflection, deep introspection, and characterized by humility. There are no grades, no besting others, no winning or losing.

Part V, Learning, of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide for Wellness is about cultivating the perspective of an authentic learner, an individual who consciously and deliberately chooses to see life and all its experiences as landscapes for learning and for developing one’s unique nature.

Learning is both the impetus and  momentum for following the directions that guide you throughout your entire journey to know yourself. You might think of learning as the map of the landscape of you, while attention, self awareness, challenge and choice are directions to follow on that map.

Adopting learning as a lifestyle, as growth-mindset, is integral to the other four directions in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide because without the attitude of the curious student, the wheel stops moving forward. As you learn, the wheel turns and gains momentum, further inspiring and motivating you to continue moving forward to steadily acquire wisdom and wellness.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
–Louisa May Alcott

The practices within the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide are designed to help you learn to regulate your body and mind and skillfully develop more focused attention, calm, and self control through deeper self-awareness, so you will be more apt to see the world and everything in it as a classroom—a lot less frightening, much more intriguing, and full of possibilities and opportunities for becoming more of who you are meant to be!

When you adopt the attitude of a curious learner, approaching yourself, people, events, and all your experiences as interesting phenomena to examine in order to learn, you’ll be less likely to react to life out of fear, defensiveness, or perceive yourself as victim.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”
― Carl R. Rogers

Many people tend to cling tightly to the need for answers and permanence and will fight hard to remain closed within their carefully curated comfort zone that provides the illusion of safety and righteousness. But you don’t grow if you don’t sustain a tolerance for ambiguity, stay open to life’s process, and move mindfully with the flow of change– that is, if you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, you aren’t fully alive and well.

Humans are conscious animals who are aware that nothing is certain and that much of life is a mystery which causes great anxiety. As a result of such underlying existential fear, we have a tendency to resist change, and so try to control our environment, other people, and master all unpredictables; progress in this pursuit of manipulation, domination, and desire for a lasting legacy gives us a sense of great pride and self-esteem (Becker).

We work hard at this false sense of security and the illusion of permanence in order to make ourselves feel less vulnerable. We frantically search for “the answers” and lasting order, but such drives for ultimate knowledge and immortality distract us from the truth of our own humanity as limited, mortal animals. Our fear-fueled expectation that we must always have solid ground to stand on, answers that are indisputable, and consistent order for total security causes us great suffering.


Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown. — Claude Bernard

The particular disposition of a learner is one who can courageously enter into the unknown to learn and grow. A heroic learner must sustain a tolerance for ambiguity and be like water; that is—be fluid and flexible, flowing with what is and what unfolds and responding as well as one is able through deliberate self control and mindful choice, all of which can be cultivated through practice. For many, to flow with constant change and to learn from it is scary because of how they have been taught to cling to permanence or have been socially conditioned by distraction from the truth of their own human condition.


“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
–Confucius

We don’t know all there is to be known, even about ourselves, and likely never will, but our ignorance should incentivize us to be humble and ever open to learning and change rather than cause us despair. If you adopt the mindset and attitude that life is for learning, for making yourself vulnerable in order to explore and know more, and for taking risks and incurring lots of trial and error, then “failing forward” with enthusiasm and the attitude of an adventurer will give your life meaning and purpose.

To learn that you are never a stable, unchanging, permanent self is to know your true nature. All is change, including you, so there will always be more to learn, and more meaning to create.

Rather than clinging to socially approved masks, copying others, or dogmatically subscribing to ideology that offers the illusory feeling of safety and security, authentic learners live life with the mindset of an adventurer who is ever-open to discovery. And people who are open, flexible, humble, and view their own life as a landscape for learning with its ups and downs, gains and losses, births and deaths will be more apt to cope successfully with the rapid and ubiquitous change that characterizes modern life.

Learn from experience, hold your beliefs and opinions about what is known, but be open-minded, tolerant of other possibilities, and willing to change because this is the kind of flexible person the modern world needs now more than ever to lessen the political polarity pervading our culture as well as to address the overwhelming disconnection from ourselves and from one another that appears to be causing so much unnecessary suffering.

Love the hand that fate deals you and play it as your own, for what could be more fitting?” 
– Marcus Aurelius

Living with the mindset that all experience is meant for learning, growth, and becoming more uniquely you isn’t easy, and it requires courage, but it helps you open up to whatever life gives you (whether positive or negative, pleasant or painful) and trains you to accept your fate with less resistance and unnecessary suffering. Less resistance, letting go of fear, and accepting reality as it is rather than how we would prefer it or like to control it is true wisdom.

And more wisdom means more wellness.

References:

Becker, Ernest. The Denial of Death. The Free Press, 1973.

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Why A Self Study Guide? Why Now?

Modern American life is defined by rapid change, information overwhelm, artificial intelligence, excess, avoiding discomfort and pain at all costs, and illness rooted in chronic stress. People are finding it more challenging than ever to find their balance, a sense of security, and wellbeing perhaps because they are conditioned and manipulated to look everywhere else than inside of themselves.

I believe personal wellness and wellbeing can be cultivated by knowing oneself through self study.

To learn about human nature and one’s own specific, individual nature is the foundation for a high quality life in our modern world.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is a lifelong, process-oriented program for individuals specifically designed to promote deep, authentic learning about oneself for wellness.

Other forms of self-help, education, and training programs rely on the foundation of one’s degree of self knowledge which can only come from introspection and deliberate self examination.

New Education for Wholeness & Wellness

While working as a high school teacher, I observed the increasing anxiety and depression among students, an over-indulgence in safe-space mentality among parents and school leaders, increasing problems with attention and a loss of deep focus, excessive social media use and its detrimental focus on social comparison, and an over-valuation of competition. School culture merely reflected wider culture’s excesses, illness, and imbalance.

I tried to leverage the traditional, standardized school curriculum the best I could to address the new needs of students. An English teacher, I regularly taught students to engage in understanding their own humanity through great archetypal stories of world literature but also through introspection (a form of listening to oneself), reflection (a way to “read” one’s own experiences), and writing (a modality for discovering what one is thinking and feeling).

Similarly, as a yoga teacher, I work to be present as a compassionate guide to help individuals work towards self-realization through their practice of focused attention, physical and mental discipline, and self control, trust, and faith in oneself despite one’s limitations. I watch people both struggling and thriving physically and psychologically when they face themselves in the mirror, learning about how their bodies and minds work and managing stress through pursuing balance. I wondered, how I could possibly bring the principles of yoga: integration, wholeness, and balance through the process of self-realization into my school to improve individual wellness among students?

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The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is my solution, which I hope inspires and motivates people to pursue personal meaning and fulfillment by deliberately developing their ‘human literacies.’

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is a new kind of curriculum created for students, but packaged and delivered in a way that scales to reach the masses of people I couldn’t otherwise possibly know or help if I were relegated to one brick and mortar classroom.

This Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is the new humanities curriculum specifically designed to promote the type of learning that’s necessary not just for young people but for all people in the modern world to become more human, more wise, whole, and well.

Classic and Unique

The five central tenets of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide are derived from the humanities traditions of both East and West. There’s nothing original about the wisdom to “know thyself,” hence the moniker “classic.” What is unique and original is how this Guide interprets, simplifies, and delivers the classic wisdom in a way that’s accessible to the widest possible modern audience and is useful for every individual’s pragmatic application to their own unique lives.

It’s a new type of individual education plan for authentic learning about oneself that is foundational to all other types of learning, growth, fulfillment, achievement and success.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study curriculum guides readers to:

(1) understand attention and it’s value and learn to manage one’s own,

(2) gain self-awareness,

(3) realize the value of embracing challenges to build resilience,

(4) make more intentional choices to respond to experiences rather than reacting unconsciously, and

(5) approach one’s life experiences with curiosity and as opportunities for authentic learning.

Living in a world where the power of artificial intelligence has radically changed how we think, feel, and relate to one another requires us to understand human nature and know our unique, individual nature to become more human than ever before, if we want to be optimally alive and well.

It is a mistake to assume that we know how to be our best and most complete human selves.

It turns out that we have to intentionally and consciously work hard to know who we are if we hope to have a high quality human experience for the short time we inhabit this planet.

I hope that explicit instruction for engaging in the process of self-study will help.

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Know Thyself, Part III: Challenge

Although the classic wisdom, “know thyself” sounds simple, it’s not easy. It’s not easy being human and it’s certainly not easy learning the truth about yourself, so challenge is part and parcel of gaining wisdom and wellness. Challenge is Part III of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.

As the wise Eastern sage, the Buddha said, life is suffering, and this is the reality most people would rather not accept nor grapple with. The problem of facing our own anxieties, depression and pain, and the truth that life is hard and that we are limited directly opposes our modern cultural values that promote only happiness, comfort, and pleasure.

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.”

—Jiddu Krishnamurti

In the first-world, we are educated to avoid voluntarily challenging ourselves or confronting our dis-eases head on. We are encouraged to use hacks and short cuts to avoid the deep learning approach that requires real challenge and real change.

We are given pills and “easy,” quick ways out and away from facing any discomfort rather than nourishing and nurturing our own bodies and minds which takes attention, time, sacrifice and effort to cultivate. Prevention is hard work and sometimes without immediate payoff, so we are conditioned instead to live a life of pleasure without sacrifice. We stay ignorant about the negative effects of our choices and actions because they exist in some far off future that doesn’t seem immediately threatening. (Think Global Warming)

Materialist and consumerist values coupled with technological progress aggressively sell an intentional avoidance of difficulty. The messages of advertisers are to feel no pain, or to pretend, or that we are not good enough as we are. The system is designed as a race— to hurry up and acquire the latest and greatest, playing on our deepest fears of feeling left out of the group or alienated. We are not taught that to grapple with problems and work persistently to solve them defines the best in us. We miss out on the fulfillment and meaningfulness of building our character and spirit. And we wonder why we are sick.

Through technological and other forms of manipulation, advertisers, politicians, media and other organizations steal our attention away from our inner worlds, capitalize on our lack of self-mastery, and divert us from knowing ourselves and our truth. All of this blocks our ability to grow stronger, develop grit and resilience, and invite failure as a way to learn, evolve, and thrive.  

We are continually seduced by constant distractions that play on our irrationality, desires, and emotions, and we are socially conditioned to pay attention to those who are “in the know” to tell us how to live our lives, rather than turning inward to trust ourselves. It’s time to stop listening to others and listen to ourselves through intentional and deliberate introspection. We have to stop and make time to know who we really are rather than who we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned to be.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide encourages you to face challenges and limits to grow wiser and more well, enabling you to be your own best authority and trusted advocate of yourself. In the modern world, facing challenge to know thyself is both an act of self-defense against cultural conditioning and necessary for positive self actualization.

What only seems ironic in this modern world of constant dopamine hits from excessive immersion in gaming or social media, moving beyond one’s comfort zone to voluntarily face fear and challenge is the antidote to suffering more and suffering unnecessarily. It’s simple. If we humans don’t use our muscles, they atrophy. By paying close attention to fear and exercising courage, we become both brave and more confident about exercising it in our future endeavors. Helicopter parents rob their children of actualizing when they create safe spaces, hover, and prevent failure. Again, we wonder why anxiety and illness continue to rise among young people.

If we take a small risk, succeed, and we survive the trauma, we are more likely to try and try again. If we burn ourselves once, if we fail and fall, we learn quickly to figure out other paths and possibilities for succeeding the next time. Our fear and weakness lessen, our confidence and faith in our own good judgment and abilities grow. We find out what we are like and what we are made of.

When we make sacrifices that may hurt today, we are more likely to be rewarded with more freedom tomorrow. Such small and great character-building actions using one’s carefully directed attention and self-awareness developed in the first two parts of the Self-Study Guide program are practices that lead to developing discipline and grit in the third part.

None of this: developing courage, discipline, and seeking the truth of you is easy. It requires hard work, pain, and struggle but discipline leads to freedom-— and just think about the amount of freedom and independence that comes from good health and wellness.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Taking “baby steps” through the trial and error of learning is growing, and growing is thriving, and thriving is wellness. Modern psychologists have used the technique of exposure therapy to effectively treat severe phobias, but it is a tool available to all of us for developing wellness regardless of the severity or scale of our fears.  

If we remain hidden in our self-constructed safe spaces, buffered from danger or risk and other opportunities for learning more about ourselves and the world, protected from oppression all the while maintaining the mentality of the vulnerable, helpless victim, we become dependent on others to shield us and thus remain weak and static. We can’t be certain of whether or not what comes from the external is good for us because we don’t really know what we are made of.

Because we haven’t risen to the challenges that enable us to build our character and our constitution, we really don’t know who we are and that causes even more doubt and trepidation. We lack trust and confidence in ourselves, so our personal growth, wellness, and well-being remains in the hands of others, and we are forced to trust their power and their moral character instead of our own. Thus, we are more likely to be oppressed, manipulated, and victimized.

Avoiding difficulty, whether difficult truths, discomfort, or exposure to risk by making ourselves vulnerableresults in a failure to cope. Poor health is far more threatening and damaging than facing challenge in the first place.

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

When you avoid discomfort, distract yourself, pretend, or run away from pain– one of your greatest teachers, you lose the opportunity to actualize your potential and build your resilience. Like unused muscles, your mind, body, and spirit remain static and weak thus causing additional unnecessary suffering.

When you learn to grapple with challenge, voluntarily through practice, you’ll build character and confidence. You will learn more about what you are made of and who you really are, so that when the unexpected tragedies of life hit, as they inevitably will, you will be the stability and comfort for yourself and others, thus minimizing any unnecessary, additional suffering. You’ll be the hero of your own life story.

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Know Thyself, Part II: Self Awareness

“If you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

—-Daniel Goleman

Self Awareness is Part II of Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide.The Guide provides tools and techniques for learning to turn your attention inward to become consciously more self-aware so that you can make informed, intentional decisions for your well-being and develop the discipline it takes to avoid being distracted or blown off course by powerful influences in the external environment ever vying for your precious attention.

Aside from owning and managing your own attention (learned in Part I), another important “soft skill” in our modern age of artificial intelligence is trust– that is, trusting yourself.  But you can’t trust yourself until you know yourself well. And you can’t develop self-awareness and self-understanding if you don’t pay careful attention to yourself.

Focusing attention inward to gain self-knowledge and self awareness is what it means to travel the inner landscape for learning. Part II of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide empowers you with practical activities to become more self aware– to know thyself to be the best you possible.

Turning your attention inward is like shining a spotlight on yourself to understand who you are, and this is the beginning of becoming more self-aware and conscious that you are a human ‘self’ with a specific nature.

If you study your personality, habits, patterns of thinking and emotions, and learn about your mind-body connection, you will know more about who you are, how much of you is under your own control, how much is not, and the qualities of human nature that you share with other human beings.

You will discover that you have limitations and challenges and so does everyone else. This knowledge will positively transform your relationship with yourself and others.

Your increased self awareness may motivate you to welcome new challenges in your life, motivate you to use your strengths to thrive, inspire you to face your fears and insecurities, and provide you with more concrete information about yourself to make better, more informed choices from a locus of control, all of which leads to more wisdom and wellness.



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Everybody Wants More Wisdom & Wellness

Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human  Self Study Guide Coming Soon!

I believe so strongly that dedicating more time and energy to understanding oneself is the foundation for balance and wellness in this day and age of speed and data overwhelm that I left the security of my career as a high school teacher to create Landscapes for Learning, an online classroom where my mission is to foster the growth of individual uniqueness and encourage individual expression through learning.

I had been grappling with the increasing anxiety and unwellness among my teenage students and observing it throughout the school’s culture (and our wider culture), while at the same time I was helping people to grow in healthy self-realization as a Bikram yoga teacher. The philosophy of Bikram yoga with its aim of self-realization seemed to be a viable antidote needed to address the problems pervading not only school culture but our American culture at large.

I wondered how I could possibly bring the principles of yoga into schools to improve wellness and balance. How could I marry the yoga with education for wholeness and wellness for individuals?

One answer is my soon-to-be-published Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide, curricula for promoting wisdom and wellness. 

The five central tenets of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide are based on what I learned both as a Humanities teacher and within my personal yoga practice, a combination of the wisdom traditions of both East and West, and are meant to help both teens and adults heal themselves through self-development for optimal health and quality lifestyle.  

The Self Study Guide directs you to (1) understand attention and it’s value and learn to manage your own, (2) gain self-awareness, (3) realize the value of embracing challenges and limits, (4) make intentional choices to respond to experiences rather than reacting unconsciously, and  (5) approach your life experiences with curiosity and as opportunities for learning.

Through this process of self-study, you will likely become your own best trusted friend, teacher, therapist, and parent capable of independently traveling the landscapes of your life as if on the most interesting adventure.

You can learn to “do you” and express your uniqueness which is exactly what you need to be well!

If each of us is well and expressing our uniqueness, then all of us are better off. 

Knowing thyself is about our individual humanity and our shared humanity. If you want to make the world a better place, it’s starts with knowing who you are and living the full expression of you!

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide can show you how!

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Learning on the Inner Landscape

“Pause. Take a look inside and see what you can learn about yourself, from yourself, for yourself.” This is the advice I just gave to my son, then I challenged him to be my test subject for the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. I challenged him to disconnect from his external sources of learning and spend a week studying only himself, nothing else.

My son is a voracious reader. He loves ideas and plays with the conceptual frameworks for examining the world that he learns from other scholars and experts in various fields. He is inspired and excited by how much there is to learn and humbled by how much he doesn’t yet know. Although since he has acquired so much information from his reading and listening (to books on Audible and podcasts) he’s realizing that he is neglecting reading and listening to himself and his own life. He spends more time learning from others than he does from himself. He reads mostly about what others think and writes less about what he thinks.

So I challenged him to be my test subject for the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. I challenged him to disconnect from his external sources of learning and spend a week studying only himself, nothing else.

“Why?” he asked me, “Why should I study myself? Every time I look for myself, I realize there isn’t one,” he said to which I replied,

“You’re not looking for a self. You’re looking at this human being that is you, to describe yourself in writing as best you can at this point in time, using the five parts of the Self Study Wheel.

See what you can learn from understanding your own attention by observing it using the activities in the Self Study Guide. Write everything down in your wisdom and wellness journal. Take the personality test in the self awareness section and write about your habits and patterns of behavior using the journal prompts. Do the activities that ask you to assess your self-talk. Watch how you respond to problems or fears or discomfort and be specific about what they are and how you coped (or failed to) with them– in writing. Keep track of both the relatively routine decisions you make throughout an hour and about more significant choices throughout your week as part of the fourth part of the Self Study Guide. And finally, practice the open and vulnerable mindset of a learner– examine yourself and consider your experiences as teachers from whom you shall learn. Again, write everything down!”

He said, “Okay. This reminds me of what my therapist told me to do. He said to keep a journal and practice mindfulness meditation.

“Yes,” I replied. “Study yourself non-judgmentally to learn, and for no other reason. Just keep track of what you notice. At the end of the week, you can review all the activities and see what you know that you didn’t before or that perhaps you were wrong about.”

“It seems like a lot to observe. So many activities and so much writing!” he said.

And I said, “Yes, there’s a lot to learn because there’s a lot to being human. There’s a lot to being you. You’re complicated. But you’ll be less a mystery to yourself, if you explicitly try to understand who you are by looking at what you’re paying attention to most, putting attention inward to understanding some of your habits, likes, dislikes, and your personality type, and seeing how you respond to challenge and how you make choices.

Did you react rather than respond to various stimuli in your environment? Did anyone or anything in particular get under your skin or push one of your sensitive buttons? Write about it! You are not accountable to me. You are only accountable to you. So enjoy the process of getting to know yourself as well as you can. And then rinse and repeat for the rest of your life.”

Self Study is reading and writing about yourself and your life experiences. Writing is a tool to see what we think, process our emotional experiences, and use reflection and imagination to create new ways of interpreting our experiences. Our mind is a powerful tool for what we manifest in our life. We’ve got to see what we think by writing everything down and sorting through it to make sense of ourselves. Reading, listening and writing are crucial language arts skills that will help us become more literate about ourselves.

So, as I advised my own son, study yourself as much as you study the work and ideas of others to gain more and more wisdom (not just smarts) and optimal wellness. You’ll be glad you did and amazed by just how much you will learn about the person you think you know pretty well but who you can always come to know better.

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Self Study: The Beginning of All Wisdom

“Knowing oneself is the beginning of all wisdom”—Aristotle

As knowing thyself is the classic, foundational wisdom to all other kinds of growth, learning, achievement, and success, the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is the platform upon which you can build, adding other advice, self-help programs, formal education, workplace training and more for ongoing personal and professional self-development.

Self study is your foundation because if you don’t know who you are, how can you know what help is truly beneficial for you? How can you know what career or life coaching advice suits you, or which prescriptions for wellness are most appropriate for you, or whose advice to seek, if you haven’t studied yourself carefully? You must do your inner landscape work, your part to know yourself,  in order to assess, accept and integrate additional help, insight, advice, and information from external sources. 

Since the wisdom of knowing oneself is timeless and classic, the Self-Study Guide will be useful both immediately and far into the future repeatedly throughout your life at the times and places of your choosing. And once you become familiar with the five aspects of the Self-Study Guide, you can revisit any or all of them whenever you’ve lost your way. You can focus on one, two, or all five of the aspects of the guide to improve your life.

This foundational guide for wellness is applicable to all modern humans, yet super-specific for each individual since each of us is so unique.  Once you own this program, it’s yours to adapt to your needs. When you embark on traveling the landscape of you using the Self-Study Guide, your life is in your own hands– literally.

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“Know Thyself” Sure, but HOW?

“Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is a set of simple directions, tools, and practices to show you how to live by the classic maxim, “know thyself” for modern teens and adults. It was created for people to actively integrate the process of knowing themselves into their daily lives, and can be utilized by anyone, anywhere. No grades, no tests, only learning for the sake of gaining personal wisdom and wellness.”

“Know Thyself” —Oracle at Delphi

“Be true to yourself!”

“Do you!”

“Express your uniqueness!”

Popular, inspirational memes like these are shared in self-help books and all over social media to inspire people to live well, but how can you possibly “do you,” be the best you possible, and express yourself uniquely if you don’t know who you are?

Answering the question “who am I?” is foundational to self improvement, and it is also the center of a truly complete education. A committed, ongoing pursuit of knowing oneself provides meaning for one’s life. The advice is ancient, classic, motivational and positive for sure, but simply reading about it isn’t enough. You have to act.

 

Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is a set of simple directions, tools, and practices to show you how to live by the classic maxim, “know thyself” for modern teens and adults. It was created for people to actively integrate the process of knowing themselves into their daily lives, and can be utilized by anyone, anywhere. No grades, no tests, only learning for the sake of gaining personal wisdom and wellness.

Self-study is foundational to all other kinds of learning. Any other strategies and motivational programs for achievement or success build upon the unique combination of directives in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.

 

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Know Thyself: Simple, Not Easy

“There are three things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one’s self.”

— Benjamin Franklin

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide itself is simple, but knowing who you are is not easy. The five parts of the Self Study Guide contain simple directions to send you on your way, but you must navigate the unique and complex map of you on your own. What you discover will be unique, and how you process the information and what you decide to do with the truth that you learn will be 100% up to you. You will get out of it what you put into it.

The activities contained within the Self Study Guide are meant to get you started on your journey to know yourself better. Once you become adept with using these tools and thereby form habits that will come to seem like second nature to you, the fruits of your own labor will further inspire and motivate you to continue growing in wisdom and wellness. The Self Study Guide is the starting point for designing your life of personal independence and wellness.

Subscribe to be first to receive the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide and receive discounts on products and services at LandscapesforLearning.com!

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Classic Wisdom for Modern Humans: A WORK IN PROGRESS

The soon-to-be-completed Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide contains the why and how to “know thyself” for wellness. It is a collection of tools and practices for you to know yourself better so you can express your uniqueness for a lifetime of wellness and wellbeing. The ancient  dictum, “know thyself” from the Oracle at Delphi is the very definition of “classic” wisdom because it is archetypal, definitive, remarkable, and judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality. Living according the dictum can help you pursue truth and thereby wellness in our modern world.

 

LANDSCAPES FOR LEARNING

I believe so strongly that dedicating more time and energy to understanding oneself is the foundation for balance and wellness in this day and age of speed and data overwhelm that I left the security of my long career as a high school teacher to create Landscapes for Learning, this online classroom where my mission is to inspire, motivate, and foster the growth of individual uniqueness and encourage individual expression through a life time of learning.

BALANCE IS WELLNESS

I had been grappling with the increasing anxiety and unwellness among my students and observing it throughout the school’s culture, while at the same time I was helping people to grow in healthy self-realization as a Bikram yoga teacher. The principles and philosophy of Bikram’s brand of yoga seemed to be the exact antidote needed to address many of the problems pervading not only school culture but also the problems in modern American life in general. I wondered how I could possibly bring the principles and philosophy of the yoga into schools to improve  wellness and promote balance, if I could not get students (and their parents and my co-workers) to visit the studio to actually practice the physical postures of the hatha series. So, I did what I love to do most, I wrote curriculum and called it the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. Its five central tenets (or learning units) are derived from my professional experiences teaching the Humanities and my personal Bikra yoga practice, a combination of the wisdom traditions of West and East, and are meant to help you– teens and adults– pursue optimal wellness through self study. 

FRIEND YOURSELF

Everyone needs to be their own best friend, parent, partner, counselor, and teacher– the person who knows you best, you can trust the most, and always has your back, no matter what. I became that person for myself by discovering the real value of following the classic advice to “know thyself” through my own deep self-study. By traveling the landscapes of my life– both inbound to my core through practicing yoga and writing and outbound across the outer landscapes of the world as a student, traveler, and teacher, I learned to express my uniqueness, to “do me,” with integrity and purpose. Becoming a better version of myself, overcoming fear and limits, and managing constant change took conscious effort and lots of trial and error, and it continues to be an ongoing journey toward wholeness. We should never stop learning, moving, or growing. 

I was inspired and motivated by prominent writers, podcasters, yoga enthusiasts, and many other teachers in various fields who were all both working to become whole and healthy individual human beings and promoting this same journey toward integration and wholeness through knowing oneself.

I heard over and over again that many of the problems and illnesses of our modern day are due to lack of knowing who we really are and that we are disconnected from our truth. I agreed because I was witnessing this reality in my own life- my own personal experience and in my role as mother, high school teacher, teacher of teachers, and yoga teacher.  I also knew that learning was the answer along with yoga and journal writing, as these were my practical, everyday tools for my own self study, growth, and wellness.

I am hopeful that the almost completed Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide, based on my insight gained from a deep work approach to self study, will improve your relationship with yourself (and others) as it did my own and continues to do. I am currently trying to walk the walk as I talk the talk, and this website is evidence of my own journey forward to expressing the truest me possible.  As you may have noticed, there are “WORK IN PROGRESS” images on almost every page! Our work to live as our truest selves is never done!

HONEST PRACTICE

The pursuit of classic wisdom, to “know thyself,” is to be a traveler with no final destination but the means to live authentically. In other words, the landscapes of your life are for learning– forever. Unlike schooling, learning is a journey of trial and error where trying and failing is the point— it’s the meaning and purpose of your one, unique life. So you ought to expect messy, to get a little bit dirty, and be bumped around a bit as you fail forward in your effort to know yourself and find your truest expression. As we say in the Bikram yoga community, when it comes to self-realization, there is no perfect— only practice. We are all, always, a work in progress!

Subscribe now to be first to receive the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide and discounts on products and services at LandscapesForLearning.com!

 

 

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Problems, Purpose, & Shitty First Drafts

“The meaning and design of a problem seem not to lie in its solution, but in our working at it incessantly. This alone preserves us from stultification and petrifaction.”
— C.G. Jung

Problems define us. Rather than ignoring them, pretending they don’t exist, or that they are someone else’s responsibility to solve, facing problems and taking on the challenge to solve them gives us something to do to define our (better) selves. 

WRITING FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING

Writing is a tool that helps me define my problems and work to solve them. Writer, Anne Lemott, famously promotes the “shitty first draft” as a way to begin to articulate oneself without concern for a final product. You just write with the reassurance that you’ll shape something out of your shittiness later. Usually, the process of shittily drafting will lead you closer to articulating a problem more clearly, sometimes by bringing the unconscious to the conscious level, and thus, in the general direction of a possible solution. As you might imagine, this is quite a messy process. It requires vulnerability, willingness to remain in a temporary state of ambiguity and confusion, and trust in yourself that the trash that’s being drafted might eventually turn into treasure…or not. When writing, one is continually tip-toeing along the line of security and insecurity– that is, learning. I actually enjoy the process, as uncomfortable as it can be.

Since pregnant with my first child who is now almost 25 years old, I have written almost daily in a journal. I did not deliberately set out to use journaling as the therapeutic tool it turned into, rather I only wanted to record my son’s life for him and his three siblings that followed. But, over the years, my journal has been the friend, therapist, and doctor I needed to know myself better and make sense of my experiences. Problem-solving and truth-seeking can be done through writing because it allows the writer to, among other things, sort through, organize, and assess one’s thoughts and emotions honestly, honesty being the key. And here’s another bonus, telling the truth in writing is linked to wellness (Pennebaker).

YOGA FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING

In addition to journaling, I have always found physical activity, including athletics, physical labor, and exercise helpful for the same reasons– to solve problems and manage the crazy, that is, to find balance between the rational and irrational for wellness. Body and mind are intimately connected, so working the body is essential for clear reasoning as well as exercising the imagination and for regulating emotions. If we are functioning predominantly from the strictly rational and neglect the body, our health is less than optimal. We might say we are out of balance. Similarly, when we function predominantly from our emotional base or rely too much on feelings, we experience imbalance as well. Like writing, yoga has been an important modality for balance and wellness, where more integration and wholeness can be realized.

Because I had begun a yoga practice in 2012, where I learned to pay careful attention to what was happening within my mind and body, and I was writing about my everyday  experiences in a journal, I discovered the very problem I am currently working to solve, a problem that’s been transformative in great ways and small, thus continually defining who I am. The problem has provided me with the challenge I need to feel vibrant and purposeful!

THE PROBLEM

I became a teacher because I love learning and cultivating growth, but over the many years teaching high school English, I saw how the school’s values and culture had become too much about grades and not enough about authentic learning, wholeness, and wellness. The time, energy, and attention that schools, students and parents dedicate to grades whether implementing a school wide electronic grading system and everything that requires, communicating about grades, complaining about them, comparing them and using them to compete, students burning out trying to achieve them, losing friendships and integrity because of them, feeling continually disappointed in oneself because of them, and on and on and on—is excessive and unhealthy. Everyone seemed to be playing the game of “jumping through the hoops” to meet expectations for the college application, an empty, disingenuous race to some top as if this would guarantee some future “happy” life full of economic gain, while I was playing the “love for authentic learning for wellness” and “life in the present moment” game. My integrity as an educator was challenged too often due to the differences in my values and the values that were lived out within the school culture and our contradicting definitions of learning, and this is what ultimately drove me out of my job, but not away from my passion for learning and teaching the humanities.

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE GRADES

Many good schools like the one I worked for over-promote academic excellence in the form of high achievement and grades to compete for college admission to the detriment of overall balance, health, and wellness of its students. The grading system itself is a problematic feature of all schooling, but even more problematic is how grading is used and to what ends, what grades have come to signify within a school’s culture, and parents’ skewed understanding of the purpose of genuine assessment, and thus, the damaging effects on students’ developing identities– who they think they are and who they think they might become– and their perception of their own human potential and abilities to actualize. I found all of this particularly disturbing. I observed over more than a decade of teaching that the values that are tied to the grading system and lived out in school culture stunted students’ individual growth and severely compromised their mental health as well as limited my own professional growth, creativity, and wellness.

CULTURAL VALUES

I believe that many parents are likely motivated by fear rather than love to push their children to adopt the values of competition and comparison to the extreme, which is, sadly, likely representative of our American culture in general. A lot of times, people approach reality, or parent, or make decisions from a place of lack rather than abundance– the fear of not being enough or having enough. Our irrational fear often drives us and clouds our vision so much that we lose sight of what really matters– which I believe is health. Most people agree that without good health, you’ve got nothing. It broke my heart to see kids suffer unnecessarily and struggle to know themselves and love themselves for exactly who they were as human beings, unconditionally, not for their GPA, not for how they compared to others, not in light of how their parents or teachers valued their performances academically or athletically or whatever other things you put on a college application to gain acceptance.

Because so much attention is dedicated to grading and its value for competing and comparing, less attention, time, energy, and resources are dedicated to valuing, promoting, and developing psychologically, physically, and spiritually whole human beings. I observed excessive anxiety and depression among teens, but also a lack of spirituality, moral character, and resilience, all of which related not only to the grading and identity-development problem but also likely correlate with the continuous and rapid change in our culture, socio-economics, and other related factors like social media, information overload, lack of time spent playing, a disconnection from nature and thus disconnection from oneself. The lack of wellness among teens is not all about the over-valuation of grades, but it factors greatly into one’s developing sense of identity and has an incredibly huge impact on one’s mindset and attitude toward learning. I could be mistaken about my conclusions, but I am sure enough to have walked away from personal financial security to find a solution.

MY SOLUTION

My solution began with quitting my job. To use a surfing analogy, I started paddling and looking for “the” next big wave to ride. When you start in a new direction, even if you don’t know the ultimate end or you can’t visualize the finish line, you just start where you are and take a step forward. You start paddling. So after writing blog posts for no apparent specific purpose except to write more, this led to trying my hand at podcasting, and that led to writing my shitty first draft of a book called, It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling. The book writing process helped me to articulate the problem more clearly, leading me to answering the question that the title begs, “If it’s not about the grades, then what is “it” about?”  

My answer is that “It” is learning in a much more encompassing sense beyond merely schooling which has become hoop-jumping for grades for transcripts for college acceptance. “It” is the kinds of learning available for the full health and wellness of a human being beyond merely academic achievement or some fixed, content-heavy curriculum. “It”  is about soft skills like emotional intelligence, understanding the mind-body connection, character development, morality and ethics, and intuition; ‘it’s” about what’s unconscious, subconscious, and other ways of knowing to become but more wise as opposed to smart in the conventional sense. “It’s” about paying more attention to our uniqueness and our human nature. “It’s” about human being, not just human doing or productivity and progress. “It’s” about our shared humanity, not just status, signaling, and power, or comparing and excessively competing. “It’s” about knowing who we really are, deep down inside, rather than what culture tells us we should be because we are so much more than the surface role-playing or masks we wear.  I am not disregarding the value of hard, practical skills, academic knowledge, achievement, or progress as long as balance and wellness accompany them. My goal is to inspire people and promote more attention, time, and energy to gaining wisdom, balance, and wellness—three interchangeable terms.

Shitty first drafts are indispensable precisely because they are a form of failure, thus learning.  By  fleshing out as many of my thoughts and feelings as possible in that drafting process, I was able to move beyond criticism and the unpleasant process of hyper-focusing on the problem with all its inherent negativity to create a positive, simple and effective solution that benefits me and those its intended to serve.

I thought that writing the book would be “the” wave, the answer to the problem and my ultimate purpose, but it turns out, it was merely the precursor, another step forward in the process. It’s all process, if you are willing and open to seeing it that way, if you are willing to see yourself as traveling on the landscapes for learning… forever. So, rather than being too terribly disappointed for too long by the book’s “failure” to become a book, I am delighted that the shitty draft propelled me forward closer to the truth. I am sharing my process with you because it is the foundation of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Wellness Program I have created. 

 

I am continuing to do what I have always done as parent, school teacher and yoga teacher which is to teach people about humanity and personal expression by enabling them with tools for self-study, so they can each become the exact person they are meant to be, live out their passion and purpose with integrity and a sense of meaning that will benefit themselves and the world. This is the journey, each person’s unique journey– to become more of who they are each and every moment.

To this end, I have created this online classroom open to all which includes the blog you are reading, a podcast, a Youtube channel, as well as various Wisdom & Wellness products and services. Two self-study programs: the  Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide and the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Teen Self-Study Guide will be available both online and in print.  Additionally, workshops, speaking events, online courses, journaling programs, and other resources will provide people with simple, straightforward information, tools, and practices to embark on their personal life-long journey on the landscapes for learning for self-knowledge, wisdom, and wellness.

 

CLASSIC WISDOM FOR THE MODERN HUMAN: SELF STUDY

Through my own journal writing and yoga practice, I continue to know myself as well as I can. The process is always about problem-solving and transformation. I am always changing, so I am always learning new things about myself, and you can too– this is the meaning of traveling the landscapes for learning.

I have learned through writing and yoga to (1) carefully manage my own attention, (2) direct it inward to gain more and more self-awareness and self-knowledge, (3) face the problems and challenges in my life— my limitations and the limitations of others— and grapple with them to build strength and vitality and to realize my potential, despite it being alternately uncomfortable and risky. I use my hard-won discipline and resilience from facing my fears and challenges to (4) respond to experiences rather than reacting unconsciously or irrationally, making better, more mindful choices from a central locus of control. Because I understand my own nature better, I can better understand others and use empathy and compassion in how I relate to people. My mindset is to (5) continuously respond to every experience in my life as an opportunity to learn which means I stay open to making loads of mistakes with a sense of humility because there will always be more for me to learn about myself and the world. These are the five aspects of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Programs I have created drawn from twenty five years of my own experiences with self-study. They are the directions for my travels on the landscapes for learning. If they work for me, I am certain they’ll work for you too!

YOUR PROBLEM & YOUR PURPOSE

Rather than fearing problems or challenges, wishing they didn’t exist, or trying to ignore them, instead, be curious about them, reflect on them, write about them, grapple with them, learn from them, for these practices and this process will not only give your life a sense of purpose, but you’ll grow in wisdom and wellness and come to know who you really are.

 

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Self-Study for Wisdom & Wellness

The answers aren’t outside ourselves. Travel the inner landscape to find out how the mind works and you’ll find out who you are and who you can be if you control your thoughts.

“Build the image in your mind of what you want. Be specific. Write it down. Reject negative thoughts. Think of how you can achieve your goal and not why you can’t.”

“To develop from within is the definition of education. Learning never ends when we draw on an infinite source from the deep reservoir within us.”

“Attitude should be taught as a subject in school”

“We have an exterior image and an interior image of ourselves (self-image). Too many people don’t know enough about themselves so they have a poor self-image. We can all improve our self-image.”

“Relax. Visualize how you want to see yourself and how you’d like to live your life. (Dream your painting and then paint your dream) Build the image in your mind. Describe it and write it out. Read it repeatedly.”

“We become what we think about. Believe and your belief will create the fact (William James)”

“Thoughts control our feelings; feelings control our actions. We can control our thoughts.”

“Respond, don’t react. Ask yourself, Will that idea help me get to where I want to go?”

 

 

 

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What You Won’t Learn at School

Engage in Self-Study to
Prepare to Thrive in the Future

“What’s good for everybody is to get to know yourself better because we are now entering the era where we are hackable animals…and there are corporations and governments that are trying to hack you
whether you are a student or a billionaire…If you don’t get to know yourself better you become easy prey to all these organizations and governments that are hacking you as we speak… you have to run faster..
previously you had no competition, but now you do.” 
—Yuval Noah Harari*

Listen to and/or read the following interviews from Yuval Noah Harari for the reasons why self-study is the most important curriculum to engage in at this point in history.

YUVAL NOAH HARARI
Author of Sapiens,Homo Deus, and 21 Rules for the 21st Century

If you want to avoid being hacked, being irrelevant, or overwhelmed by constant, stressful change, then get ahead of the curve by knowing yourself for proper self-development now and for the future.

The five lessons or “practices” of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human self-study program are designed to help you learn to know yourself. In the program, you will learn:

  • How to understand and manage your own attention (Harari says “Your best skill is your focus to form a clear map and vision of reality.”)
  • How to become self-aware and know yourself better than anyone else
  • How to do what’s difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging to gain strength, grit, and resilience
  • How to respond rather than to react to challenges in the environment using self-control
  • How to approach life as landscapes for learning and see every experience as an opportunity for growth

KNOWING ONESELF IS THE ESSENTIAL WISDOM needed for the coming decades. Landscape for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study for  Wellness Program can show you how to get to know yourself and the unique human that you are!

The workshops, resources, and wellness programs provide the tools and information you need to take 100% responsibility for your own life. This program will enable you to take the necessary action and develop the habits and character through direct experience to know yourself and become the best, strongest, wisest you possible.

There are no teachers in this program except you. You follow no guru, no generic prescription or step by step, magical, one-size-fits-all  program. Your experience with Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human self-study program is specific and unique to you because you are one of a kind!

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOUR FREEDOM IS GONE!

WHEN TECH KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOURSELF
(INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT)

Subscribe to be first to receive updates about the Wisdom and Wellness Programs online coming soon!

References:

*Waking Up Podcast #138 

When Tech Knows You Better Than Yourself

Yuval Noah Harari’s website

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen

THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION TALK

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Yuval Harari on the Value of Self-Study

“What’s good for everybody is to get to know yourself better because we are now entering the era where we are hackable animals…and there are corporations and governments that are trying to hack you whether you are a student or a billionaire…If you don’t get to know yourself, you become easy prey to all these organizations and governments that are hacking you as we speak… you have to run faster…previously you had no competition, but now you do.” 

—Yuval Noah Harari*

Listen to and/or read the following interviews from historian, Yuval Noah Harari for the reasons why self-study is the most important curriculum to engage in at this point in time.

WHEN TECH KNOWS YOU BETTER THAN YOURSELF
(INTERVIEW AND TRANSCRIPT)

YUVAL NOAH HARARI
Author of Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Rules for the 21st Century

If you want to avoid being hacked, as Harari advises, then get ahead of the curve by starting to know yourself now for proper self-development.

The five lessons or “practices” of the Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen self-study for wisdom and wellness program are designed to help teens learn more about themselves by teaching them:

  • How to understand and manage your own attention (so nobody else can control you!)
  • How to become self-aware and know yourself better than anyone else (so nobody else can take advantage of your ignorance).
  • How to do what’s difficult, uncomfortable, and challenging to gain strength, grit, and resilience (so you are disciplined enough to do what’s necessary to thrive with a life of purpose and meaning).
  • How to respond rather than to react to challenges in the environment using self-control (with self-awareness and practiced control of one’s inner reserves, you can handle any sort of challenges calmly for good health)
  • How to approach life as landscapes for learning and see every experience as an opportunity for growth (instead of acting the dependent victim).

Knowing oneself IS the ESSENTIAL WISDOM needed for the coming decades.

Here’s more motivation:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHO YOU ARE, YOUR FREEDOM IS GONE!

While everyone else is busy subscribing to learning the old skills and outdated curricula focused only on hard skills and content knowledge, students engaged in self-study using the Landscapes for Learning products and services will be gaining a hugely important edge in learning the new, most important life skills as the foundation for thriving in the coming decades of the 21st century.

We do ourselves and our future world a serious disservice if we continue to try to cram knowledge into our students’ heads within the same old industrial model of education, using outdated curricula and  testing. It’s simply not enough to be smart for the future. We must also be learning how to be wise. The first step is to focus inward to know oneself as best as one can. 

You can learn anything you want online or in school. But do you have the discipline to do it? Do you have the work ethic, focus, or control over your own attention to sustain the learning? Are you motivated intrinsically to grow and improve your skills and work on your weaknesses? Do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Do you know your own personality? Foundational to any kind of learning you do, from whatever source you access it, you must know who you are and what you are like to succeed in the endeavour to learn.

The Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen Self-Study for Wisdom and Wellness Program is what every student can use individually and independently to know themselves better, and  it’s what every teacher can implement in their classroom, and every school administrator can implement school-wide for more wisdom and wellness within a school’s community and culture.

The Landscapes for Learning simple yet powerful curricula can help high schools improve its culture and update its curriculum to prepare students more appropriately for optimally healthy lives in a world of rapid change, more pervasive AI, and a dramatically different future compared to any previous generations.

Complete the form below to subscribe for: more information about Landscape for Learning’s Self-Study programs,  resources, journaling program and curricula for students; to schedule a consultation for developing self-study for wisdom and wellness workshops and events at your school; and to get early access to the products and services that will be available online very soon!

References:

*Waking Up Podcast #138 

When Tech Knows You Better Than Yourself

Yuval Noah Harari’s website

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Human

Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Teen

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Return to Uniqueness

Why can’t we inform people that they can be their truest selves sooner, encourage them to slow down to  practice stillness, to listen to their inner guide, and give them the loving support and tools to do so? That’s a question I ask in my book and am answering with the creation of my coaching workshops, curriculum, and journal program.

Return to Uniqueness

In “The Key to Transforming Yourself” Ted Talk below, Robert Greene articulates better and more concisely what I attempted rather poorly to convey in my first book draft of, It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling. I won’t bore you with the details about the failures of the draft, except to say that I am back to the proverbial drawing board. (Revision is writing, after all according to Stephen King)

Greene talks about a “return to uniqueness.” He talks about how each of us are exactly who we are, different from everyone and everything else in the universe, but how we lose our sense of this uniqueness when we are socialized. He says when we listen to other people tell us what is good or bad about ourselves (and believe it) we often become strangers to ourselves. It is a crisis of identity when we know ourselves to be who others say we are or when we define ourselves according to what’s conventional or “normal” rather than according to our own inner wisdom. 

He also talks about “primal inclinations,” our desires and interests, which he says are beyond rational. These are the activities and subjects we are simply drawn to as children. He claims that it is our path in life to return to our uniqueness and those primal inclinations that define the true self in order to be the person we were actually born to be, a one-of-a-kind individual. 

In my book draft, I tried to convey how I came to understand this disconnection and reconnection that Greene describes. I explain how my identity as a child had been co-opted when I went to school and was shaped by its norms and the inherent cultural values of competition and comparison transmitted by parents, teachers, and friends. The inculcation from my environment thoroughly influenced how I understood myself. My interpretation of who I was lacked depth and authenticity because I had become too distant from my inner world, not entirely but enough to do some damage. Though compared to everyone else, I was “normal.” Because my typical, American, middle-class, suburban life was so busy, fast, and competitive in the drive for wealth and achievement, (you are productive and successful if that calendar is jam-packed, yes?) I had very little time to find stillness, meditation, or introspection, even if I had known those would be helpful habits to cultivate for my health and wellbeing. Nobody filled me in.

I established a relationship with myself based on who the world told me I should be, which was inauthentic, but who is conscious that this process is happening to them when they are young? I recognized the same development pattern and process of co-opting identity while teaching high school students. I saw teenagers suffer with a lack of self-understanding, integrity, and self-compassion. They consistently defined themselves according to the values of competition and comparison, never felt good enough, were forced to “find their passion” on the external landscape which really should come from the primal inclinations that school or parents likely squashed out of them long before. I saw them frantically completing their to-do lists and packing their resumes with activities and awards to gain college admission. I saw them hustle through the hoops of schooling rather than authentically enjoy learning. I saw their mental and physical health decline. I saw them suffer–and in my opinion, unnecessarily.

Greene seems to believe this phenomenon of disconnection from our unique selves happens to a lot of people. It’s something I’ve also heard podcasters, Joe Rogan, Cathy Heller, and Rich Roll talk about often. Roll wrote a book about his “midlife crisis” of sorts when he realized he only went to law school because it was expected of him and he didn’t know who he was enough to decide for himself. His awakening came initially when he found sobriety and later, more earnestly after a health scare in his late forties shocked him into reconnecting with his truth. I hope these stories of recovery are more common than not. I feel lucky to have found yoga and journal writing as my tools for my eventual “return to uniqueness.”

So I say, why can’t we inform people that they can be their truest selves sooner, encourage them to slow down to  practice stillness, to listen to their inner guide, and give them the loving support and tools to do so? That’s a question I ask in my book and am answering with the creation of my coaching program, curriculum, and journal program.

Stay tuned…

*Check out Rich Roll’s conversations with Noah Harari about meditation, AI, and education, and John Joseph on Bhakti yoga and PMA, transcending labels and transforming lives.

Also Joe Rogan’s conversation with Henry Rollins

And Cathy Heller’s conversation with Martha Beck

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Toning Down Identity Politics for Common Humanity

Disturbing trends among young people worth paying attention to. Every educator, school leader, and parent ought read Haidt’s The Coddling of the American Mind. 

 

Check Jonathan Haidt out on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jonathanhaidt/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JonHaidt

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Podcast 015: Future of Education: Learning Beyond Schooling

“I hope to help dismantle traditional schooling and its unhelpful,

outdated, damaging values and persuade teachers, school leaders, parents, and students

to focus their attention on better, more important ways of learning.

My goal is to support ALL parties in this transformation

with their humanity and a love for our shared humanity in tact.”

 

Reflections on Education, Yoga, Humanity and Change

This podcast episode is about my own learning about kids, yoga, and self-knowledge over my years teaching high school and raising my own kids. I talk about the future of constant change and how we need to radically alter education to help kids find and live their unique truth. I talk about interpreting images in a text, soft skills, values, the grading system, rescuing and preserving our humanity, and the differences between the usual business of traditional schooling and authentic learning, and much more.

 

The Landscapes for Learning Mission is to help kids thrive and flourish using tools they already own within them to navigate a future that will require them to surf the waves of change on novel landscapes.

I hope to help dismantle traditional schooling and its unhelpful, outdated, and damaging values and persuade teachers, schools, and students to focus their attention on better, more important ways of learning.  My goal is to support all parties in this transformation (and especially through loving and caring for our most valuable asset—our teachers) with their humanity and love for shared humanity in tact.

015 PODCAST DIRECT DOWNLOAD

Show Notes/References:

Johnathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind

More Tough Love, Less Coddling

 

Help the Landscapes for Learning Mission catch fire! Please share!

Please “Like” on Itunes.

Follow Landscapes for Learning: @ LandscapesforLearning.com

Twitter @Landscps4learn

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/landscapesforlearning/

Instagram: LandscapesforLearning27

Podcast Music: Creative Commons License for “Political Lunatics” by Earthling (intro and outro music)
“Political Lunatics” by Earthling

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Podcast 014: On Trust

Here’s a short solo podcast about my thoughts about over-reliance on others rather than trusting oneself. This habit of excessive co-dependency is something that comes from the way we educate our kids.

Landscapes for Learning Podcast Episode #14 On Trust

Please “like” on iTunes and share with friends who might be interested in the future of American education.