Posted on Leave a comment

018: Podcast on CHALLENGE

This podcast is a reading of a couple of excerpts from Part III of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon) called “Challenge.” To know oneself deeply, to express oneself authentically, to be fully present for yourself, even in your pain, is a difficult path, but it is the way to a meaning-filled life of wisdom and wellness.

Grappling with our unique forms of suffering and problems, whatever that entails or however it manifests uniquely within each person, directly opposes our modern cultural values that are about promoting happiness, getting people to literally buy into the story that they need comfort and pleasure (permanently) and encouraging a dependence on everything outside of themselves rather than within. Guess what? You are enough and you can “fill” your life by getting to know who you REALLY are through facing your fears and challenges. It requires honesty as well as building courage and personal discipline, and that’s exactly why most people take pills, develop unhealthy dependencies on others, retreat to or stay forever in their comfort zones, and live lives of “quiet desperation” in the words of HD Thoreau.

Our sources of pain are diverse, but we are all flawed and we all suffer– in our own ways, great and small– because we are human. It’s scary and challenging to face our insecurities and vulnerabilities, but doing so is exactly the path to freedom. You can learn tools and practices to get better at suffering and to suffer less and live with more joy in this very struggle.

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

Posted on Leave a comment

How and Why Self-Study, Podcast #16

Landscapes for Learning is podcasting again!

I took the year “off” from recording podcasts to write the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon)!  Now I want to continue sharing the mission of LFL and teaching its self-study curriculum through podcasting and conversations online!

Since the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness is a curriculum, the podcast will supplement, explain, enhance, and extend its contents and add to its already great collection of resources!! Yes, Bitches!! You’ll be able to learn about all things related to self-study and self-realization (yoga, learning, writing, challenges/ problems, etc) through listening AND consulting the practices and information in the book however you like, whenever you like, in a variety of formats you enjoy. ( e.g., Sitting in traffic or taking a walk are both great opportunities for listening in to learn more about YOURSELF!)

MY UPDATED LIVING WELL CHECK LIST 2018-2019

  1. Learned how to podcast (check!)
  2. Created a draft of an online course (check!)
  3. Turned online course into a self-directed learning curriculum: a Self Study Guide for people to use privately, in their own space (check!)
  4. Wrote and published said Self-Study Guide on Amazon. Sold (and selling) to Bikram Yoga studios and online! (check!)
  5. Incorporated as Landscapes for Learning, LLC! (check!)
  6. Having loads of ideas (about present book and for next books) and wanting to talk about them via podcast (check)

LFL’s Episodes 1-15 from 2018 helped me to flesh out ideas that ended up coming together quite nicely in book form. Now, I am shifting gears and going in a more deliberate direction by drawing on the CWFTMHSSG’s 5 main principles to create podcasts where  I will be inviting more guests to talk all things related to learning: yoga, self-study, mental health (all while I am learning Counseling Psychology to become a mental health counselor), self-realization, self-actualization, shared humanity, nature, and education!

Have a listen for an informative hour to

Podcast 016: How and Why to Self-Study for Self-Realization, Wisdom and Wellness.

Click and listen below or Download. Also listen via iTunes or Spotify.

 

Subscribe to LFL on iTunes & Share with those who you think may benefit from looking inside themselves for wellness!

Posted on Leave a comment

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!

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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.

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast 013: It’s Not About the Grades: INTRODUCTION

It’s Not About the Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling is very close to completion, so I am recording a reading of a few chapters for feedback, as a faster way of getting “peer review” before I write proposals for publishing the final manuscript.

INTRODUCTION 

Download Episode HERE

I would LOVE your input, insight, constructive criticism and HONEST feedback to improve this manuscript draft. And, of course, please share with teachers, parents, yogis, friends on your social network so I can get lots of good input! I would appreciate it!

I am days away from putting the final touches on the manuscript and readying it for readers for review. Enjoy (I hope!)

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast 011: Teri Almquist

 

“Every student deserves a good teacher,

every teacher deserves the opportunity to be a great teacher” 

-Teri Almquist

 

 

Building an inner connection with yourself isn’t easy. This union, or yoga, is hard work. It’s about  trust–first in a teacher when you don’t yet know how to trust yourself and you are overwhelmed by pain, fear, or self-doubt, and then little by little you begin to believe in yourself, then you begin to trust yourself, then you have genuine faith in yourself. You become stronger and more flexible, more balanced through this process. Your teacher is your trusted witness on your unique journey into your inner landscape. It’s important that every student has a good teacher and that every teacher has the opportunity to become a great teacher.

This enormously important teacher-student relationship built on trust can be transformative, life-changing. Teri’s first teacher, Diane Duscharme believed in her and supported her from the very first moment she entered the yoga studio with a badly injured neck and a pack a day smoking habit, and since then Teri has been paying her transformation forward– first by becoming a Bikram Yoga Teacher, then opening her own studio, and now providing continuing education for Bikram yoga teachers around the world.

A Bikram yoga class is an opportunity to focus in the mirror and concentrate on oneself– to travel one’s inner landscape. It’s practicing over and over again, consistently, in order to learn more about oneself.  It’s a chance to find that quiet space within us where our truest, most loving self lives— that place from which we can learn how to mindfully respond to life and all its challenges. It’s a landscape for learning.

Please enjoy my conversation with Teri Almquist, “Like” the podcast on iTunes, and feel free to comment!  You can find Teri and her work using the links below:

The Toolbox: Tools for Teaching Bikram Yoga by Teri Almquist available HERE (Amazon)

Visit Teri’s Studio at Bikram Yoga Merrimack Valley, North Andover, Massachusetts at https://www.bikramyogamv.com/

For more information about teaching seminars, webinars, and professional development visit: https://www.teachfromlove.yoga/

Webinars for teaching yoga at http://webinars.teachfromlove.yoga/

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast 010: Nick Filth

Nick Filth grew up in an abusive home, dropped out of high school after ninth grade, was homeless for a time, and addicted to drugs, but ironically his experiences with THC and psychedelics sent him out of this world then back to his own life– his truth, which is a place and point of view way more expansive and stunningly beautiful and loving than ever. As soon as I connected with Nick at the Bikram yoga studio where I teach and he practices, we engaged in rich, interesting conversation right away, so naturally we had to record this podcast.

So what could a middle-aged, suburban mom, yoga teacher, and former high school teacher share in common with a tattoo artist with a 9th grade education and a proclivity for psychoactive experiences? Find out by listening to a long and winding conversation, and perhaps you’ll learn what you, too, share in common with both of us!

I am grateful to Nick for this podcast because his real and raw story about his life’s journey helped me re-think my current memoir about growing up with typical suburban American values of social comparison, competition, and where my pure, essential self, my true nature, was overpowered by and neglected because of the conditions and demands of my environment.

photo credit: Jenna Antonageli

I am also indebted to him as my teacher because I learned a ton, not only about him and his perspective but also because through the opportunity to dialogue, I can learn more about my own thinking and the ways I connect and communicate with other living beings who are so much more than just bodies controlled by brains. (See list of take-aways below).

In this podcast, we discuss psychedelics, the contrast between schooling and authentic learning; conditional and unconditional love; nature versus nurture; truth and expression; the value of balance as it applies to limits and structure and change; Nick’s visit to an ashram, his music, tattoos, meditation & yoga, my writing, and much more. My favourite part is near the end when Nick talks about how he responds to novelty and discomfort. He lives as if the landscapes are FOR his personal learning!  Yes!!

This is our contribution to the new long form media and podcasting trend. Please Enjoy! If you could “like” the podcast on iTunes, that’d be helpful and much appreciated.

You can find out more about Nick here:

His webpage:  http://www.nickfilthtattoos.com/

His Tattoo Shop: http://www.hiddenhistorytattoos.com/

His podcast: http://www.nickfilthtattoos.com/polishingtheblackstone/

His record label: https://deafeningassembly.com/

*blog post black and white photo credit: Ryan Eyestone
Take-Aways: Learning by Doing (Podcasting)
1. I learned from participation in the dialogue that you learn about yourself and your limited understanding through talking with others.
2. I still need to work on better listening.
3. Listen with my heart and my head. It is the nature of the beast to want to finish your thoughts and express earnestly, in a quest for understanding, but I ought to really be more centered on a quest for connection through the heart than acquiring more insight through knowing/knowledge. Listening with my heart, as Nick said, not so much with the ears. This is a non-intellectual approach to connection and love which is how I want to “be” in the world, not just “know” everything.
4. I’m happy to continually be learning and share this example with people— to face my fears and be vulnerable and open hearted to the world, to my guests and by publishing it, all people. I continue to stop comparing and judging, and I am okay with being judged by others. It’s “no big deal” as Pema Chodron might say, as long as I check my aims and they are good– focused on learning and love and truth.
5. Be authentic. This includes being limited and flawed and searching and floundering  around in the dark, in ambiguity because this is the learning process and the nature of being human (brains trying to order chaos as Nick said)
6. I am getting more and more comfortable with my discomfort and exposure of my true self and my limitations.
Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast Redux with Grace Tempany

Traveling Landscapes for Learning, Inside and Out, with Grace Tempany

“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.”

—-Jiddu Krishnamurti

Traveling the landscapes for learning is a challenge for so many of us human beings, but Grace Tempany’s personality, disposition, and training in self-inquiry makes her unusually well-suited for riding the waves of change and challenge. She fluidly balances between both the comfort of home and job and the security and order they provide as well as following her restlessness and desire for exploring new landscapes– the novelty of new people, places, and cultures. She is a dynamic warrior-yogini on the hero’s journey! 

Grace is self-described “full of contradictions”– equally at home with one foot in such formal, structured academic settings like education as well as the other foot in the Yin Yoga and Bikram Yoga communities. Grace refers to both Jiddhu Krishnamurti about holding opposing ideas simultaneously rather than feverishly defending an idea and Pema Chodron who teaches about staying with pain and discomfort rather than running from it and to not give up on this struggle. Grace believes that the people who shy away from discomfort will not only die with regret but miss out on their very own life. She urges people to become aware that an important life-learning process exists, and with methods and practices like meditation and yoga you can become fully alive and present for your own life.

In this podcast episode, she talks with me about her tools for introspection and contemplation as well as how understanding the ways that her mind works is a key component in her increased self-awareness and therefore indispensable to being fully awake which enables her to live with vitality and appreciation.

Grace also talks with me about traveling beyond one’s literal geographical and internally-prescribed boundaries and limits and being comfortable with that very often uncomfortable process, and how this type of travel is the journey of authentic learning which is going from the known, familiar, and secure to the unknown, unfamiliar, and disorienting place beyond, a process that is anxiety-provoking for many people and requires training. Alas, there are ways to make yourself more open and vulnerable to the unknown, one step at a time!

I hope you enjoy this discussion about landscapes, learning, and our shared humanity.

Visit: http://www.gracetempany.com

To Listen to Previous Podcast with Grace 

Grace Tempany Podcast #1 Below:

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast w/ Myozen Joan Amaral on Zen, Zazen, Practice and Social Life

“The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything.

So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others.

Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.”

Shunryu Suzuki

 

 

Myozen Joan Amaral moved to the Boston area in 2012 from the San Francisco Zen Center to serve as guiding teacher for the Zen Center North Shore. She is delightful, funny, a ray of light, and a calming force to be around. There’s a positive and loving attractiveness about her that, as she says at the end of the podcast, impacts others more than anything she could say using words. As a Zen priest living back out in the world, her primary focus is on the dynamic relationship between formal meditation practice and everyday, messy human life.

JoanAmaral

I met Joan years ago when I went on a World Religions class field trip to the Zen Center and again when she was invited to implement a meditation program for students and teachers at the school where I worked as a high school humanities teacher.

In this podcast, Joan talks with me about the interplay of the inner landscape and life on the outer landscape in terms of zazen and the precepts of Zen Buddhism. She talks about the Zen Center and her role as Priest within the local community and individual mindful meditation practice as well as its relationship to community, activism, and social justice.  We also talk about the definition of mindfulness and how it is popularly perceived as a tool for stress reduction, how it’s been limited in some ways because of such perceptions and definition, and the possible barriers to its acceptance as a valued practice in a school setting.

Influencing the world and serving others is intimately tied to individual practice, and honing one’s practice is a form of social activism benefitting not only the practitioner but all else.

Interested in inviting Joan to your school or local organization? Feel free to contact her at the Zen Center!

For more about the North Shore Zen Center:
https://zencenternorthshore.org/

For more information about Zen Buddhism:
http://www.zen-buddhism.net/

*A Meta-reflection on this post:
I am continuing to hone my podcast interviewing skills, which based on this conversation still need lots of work. This podcasting experience is showing where I have gaps in my understanding (which means I am still learning, so I am happy about that!) and that I have to continue to listen more. My god, I can talk! I am also still very uncomfortable with hearing my own voice and remaining positive about this endeavour. Frankly, it all still makes me cringe. Oh, and also, I am still learning to edit and publish effectively using Audacity which is a frustrating sound editor indeed, as I have been unable to save some projects after several hours of work. I wanted to be tested, and that is surely happening.

I learn a lot about the way I communicate from podcasting– how I listen or fail to, and I also learn about my own understanding and misunderstanding when I am able to re-listen to the conversations and edit them before publishing. This is an excellent way to learn about your own thinking and communication of ideas. I am a work in progress!

Posted on Leave a comment

About LFL Podcast

In this first podcast, I introduce myself and my purpose for the Landscapes for Learning podcast.

I was motivated to create the Landscapes for Learning project to counter students’ and parents’ and schools’ over-valuation of grades and competition for college acceptance as the key to “the good life.” As a long-time educator, I saw this value and its related goals derail kids from exploring their inner lives and cause major anxiety and negative attitudes and mindsets about real learning. Students who failed to achieve hated learning because they defined learning and schooling as the same thing, which they are not. We have to teach our children by living out values each and every day that are more informed and healthy based on the true purpose of a whole and complete education for a human being in the 21st century.

I would like to create a new narrative about schooling– that it ought to be in service to the more important and broader umbrella of authentic learning, which includes real risk-taking, and the important trial and error process that fosters self-awareness, self-love, confidence, grit, patience, entrepreneurial spirit, and the conscious and deliberate self-actualization of each individual.

Every kid has potential that deserves to be actualized so they can become the truest and best version of the person they were born to be!

A wisdom curriculum and promotion of a love of learning beyond schooling must be an essential part of the curriculum in secondary education (grades 8-12) especially if the system continues in its current (nearly outdated) form.

I hope the stories of ordinary people traveling the landscapes both inner and outer inspire and support a love of authentic learning among all listeners.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast: A Parent-Teacher Conference

Solo Podcast: A Parent-Teacher Conference

“A Parent-Teacher Conference about Values” is a solo episode about my book-in-progress It’s Not About The Grades: Love for Learning Beyond Schooling which I hope to revise and publish in the coming months.

I provide a brief, yet incomplete, overview of the book in progress and read an excerpt from a chapter that is about the parent-teacher conference I wanted to have while a high school teacher but never really could. Now that I have resigned from my position, I am able to discuss what I see as the critical piece missing from a complete education for high school students and how it is severely overshadowed and almost drowned out completely by the over-valuing of grades.

I invite parents (and schools) into a conversation about a serious reflection on their values and our culture’s values and the mental health of teens, not merely to help kids to be successful students and achievers but rather to be whole, healthy, individual human beings who are able to self-actualize and blossom throughout their lives. This is the process of yoga, an exploration of the inner landscape!

I welcome your comments on the podcast in iTunes or feel free to share your thoughts by emailing me at landscapesforlearning27@gmail.com or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks!

Image credit: https://www.geeksaresexy.net/2011/02/12/bad-grades-1960-vs-2010-cartoon/

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast: The Value of Silent Meditation with Allen Gaskell

ITunes Podcast: 006: The Value of Silent Meditation with Allen Gaskell

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone”

— Blaise Pascal

One of my goals with the Landscapes for Learning project is to draw more attention to the need for an explicitly taught wisdom curriculum for high schoolers as a counter balance to all the demands of the external landscape put upon kids today.

To become wise is to know oneself– one’s essential or fundamental self which is always in a state of becoming and might be creatively developed throughout life. This essential self is foundational to the more social self—roles we play in the practical world, the expectations of others we try to meet. If we can help kids live from the inside out early on in their young lives, they may just be able to stay true to themselves– to their authentic selves so that they always have shelter, a home, to which they can return when life on the external landscapes get challenging.

One way to travel one’s inner landscape is through meditation. Meditation and mindfulness practice has become trendy recently, and it is useful as a relaxation tool, but it’s also an avenue to something deeper– to enter into the world of the essential self.

Allen Gaskell has been practicing meditation regularly for many decades, as well as practicing yoga, forest-bathing (which he didn’t know had that name until recently!), white-water rafting, and other outdoor immersion activities. He is a former Mental Health Counselor who worked in prisons, within the court system, and created a counseling center at Salem State University. He also worked for many years with Veterans with PTSD. A Vietnam Veteran (3 Tours of duty in reconnaissance and wounded in action), Allen enthusiastically enlisted in the military after high school in N.Y. and later attended college to study comparative religion at the University of Vermont. Shortly after, he stumbled across a book about Vipassana and the rest is meditation and mindfulness history.

He recently completed a 90-day silent retreat this past fall, so I was curious about what that experience was like and thought others might be interested as well. He talks with me about the value of meditation in his life, especially today in a very noisy and busy external landscape.

We talk about the workings of our minds when we observe it through meditation or yoga practice, thoughts about why, how, and who ought to be teaching about the inner landscapes, how to “sell” suffering to others or invite them into self-reflection and self-awareness, and how to learn more about our own humanity to recover it from a life in a technological-consumerist culture.

I loved our almost entirely unedited two-hour conversation! Enjoy.

Click Here for ITunes Podcast: 006: The Value of Silent Meditation with Allen Gaskell

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast Episode 005: How to Be The Hero of Your Own Life Story

“You ARE the hero of your own journey, and [this course] is the most important course you will ever take. You should be at the center of your own curriculum and let the rest of your schooling experiences supplement this foundational study of yourself…This is a solo mission– a private, individual, one-on-one class where you are both teacher and student. You only have to deal with and answer to yourself! Nobody can tell you what to do but you!”

A Humanities Course: Heroism 101
Lesson 1: How to Be The Hero of Your Own Life Story

If I could create a course especially for young people this podcast would serve as a sample introductory mini-lecture about the importance of knowing thyself within a larger course that I would call The Hero’s Journey or Heroism 101 (credit to Jospeh Campbell, Carl Jung, Jordan Peterson and many many others from antiquity to the present).

Typically, English teachers in public high schools are required to “cover” specific works of literature and teach specific language arts skills to students. We grade the students on their skills performance and progress, and assess their understanding of the literature under study. Coursework usually begins  with reading required stories where students are encouraged to make personal connections– to see themselves in the characters and explore human themes that might resonate with them.  The value of a humanities class, especially today, cannot be overstated! But, I thought, why not reverse this approach and begin a humanities course with students studying their very own lives– their own “selves,” their inner landscapes– the inner world of who they are, and  encourage them to see that they are actually, really, travelling on their own hero’s journey? The essential guiding question for such a course is : Who am I and How do I know? I think this is a valuable and precious piece of education that is needed for young people today, therefore the curriculum I am creating at Landscapes for Learning that will include podcasting, a journaling program, coaching sessions, video and other tutorials, and lots of other learning materials.

So, I would say to kids, why not just examine your own actual life rather than starting with examples and metaphors? I mean, for sure, archetypal stories and archetypal characters can teach you a ton about yourself (think Luke Skywalker, Frodo, Simba, and many more). Definitely, do your schoolwork! But instead of only studying fictional examples in the confines and context of school, I am reversing the approach by starting with YOU and your life– you, as the character of your own story, and encouraging and motivating you to examine the conflicts and themes that are human, relevant, and your real, actual life. Maybe things like your struggle with and hatred of school, or how you feel about yourself– maybe you lack confidence or feel ashamed of your weaknesses, or you lie a lot– or problems with friends & parents, or bullying and social media, anxiety and depression, and many other issues that are part of being a human being. These are the dragons you must slay, this is your road of trials, as the hero of your own life.

This curriculum I am creating is for you and is focused 100% on YOU and YOU becoming an expert on you and your own human nature! I will merely get you started– the rest is really up to you.

You ARE the hero of your own journey, and it is the most important course you will ever take. You should be at the center of your own curriculum and let the rest of your schooling experiences supplement this foundational study of yourself. The more you get to know yourself– the better you will see the world and understand others. All of your subjects in school will have more meaning for you– biology and chemistry and history and literature (I don’t know about math– probably math too!!). You will perform better because you will know your weakness and strengths, and your inner wisdom will help you find the grit, character, commitment, and motivation to do better and to be better all around! So, in this — your hero’s journey “course,” you will read, write and speak about, listen to, and think deeply about you! This is not more tedious slogging through a class or course simply to achieve a good grade. That is schooling. This is real, authentic learning.

This course– you and your life, NOW, is the learning that trumps all other forms of learning, and it’s actually important that you try to do the best you can — be the best student of yourself that you can be, since you will be the one who benefits most (although others will too, by default). And it is none of anyone else’s business what you are doing in this, your own class. This is a solo mission– a private, individual, one-on-one class where you are both teacher and student. You only have to deal with and answer to yourself! Nobody can tell you what to do but you!

You can assess yourself and decide about how much or little homework you do (I call it “soulwork”); and your attendance is totally up to you. You are in charge and you are responsible for you and only you.

So, I challenge you to put yourself at the center of your own attention, learn about what you are like and how you handle yourself– your thoughts, feelings, discomfort, boredom, whatever….and start figuring out who you’d like to be and get going on making it happen.

I hope I can get you to consider committing your time and your energy to self-understanding– spending more time with yourself, learning how to become your own best friend, and making yourself the best YOU you can be because you are full of amazing possibility, and the design of your own life is 100% in your control.

Enjoy this introductory lecture and stay tuned for more to come, more lessons you can use to teach yourself about yourself as you continue in this course– the course about YOU.

If you are interested in becoming the best you possible, subscribe to http://landscapesforlearning.com for email updates on new posts, podcasts, curriculum, and materials for your personal development.

 

Podcast Intro Music by:

Earthling-Political Lunatics published by DAWN STARS MUSIC 
Creative Commons License

Click HERE to Listen to Podcast 005

Listen on Apple ITunes Podcasts

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Restoring Balance: Too Much Schooling & Not Enough Learning”

Part of the this Landscapes for Learning mission is to draw attention to teaching and learning in a broader sense than schooling and to begin a new conversation about the kinds of learning we currently value in our American public schools.

What I think is based on my own personal experience as a student, as a former teacher in a parochial and public high school, as a coach, as a teacher of teachers, as a graduate student, as a parent of four grown children, as a yoga teacher.  Feel free to dismiss me as any sort of authority, as this is merely my opinion.

I think we, as Americans, value human “doing” more than human “being.” I think this value is apparent in the American psyche of parents and in the process of schooling. I think it’s a big problem.

I quit my job because my high school is overly-focused on values I do not share. I gave up my income, my benefits, a pension, because of a difference in values— Simply put, my definition of learning isn’t the same as theirs and this was a deal-breaker for me. I was unable to teach authentically or honestly without conflict which makes for an unhealthy and difficult relationship.

If humanity, health, and wellness comes second to achievement, even a close-second, I am not okay with that. I am as competitive as the next person, I was a high-achiever myself, but not when it comes to the learning process. Learning is a whole different game. I saw too many kids suffer because of the community’s priorities that do not match what I know to be true about authentic learning and teaching, humanity, health and wellness.

I was asked in various ways (both systemically and personally) to compromise my integrity as a teacher; my methods and approaches to learning clashed too often with a system (and its people) that values achievement above all else, even at the expense of individual students’ health and wellness. I got tired of unschooling junior and seniors, acting as therapist, mom, and English teacher. The energy it took rescuing students from the edge of hatred of anything and everything even remotely related to learning in school was enormous. I was really good at reviving a love of learning among damaged, difficult, challenging, and discipline-problem-kids.  I was even better at helping the high-achieving, way-too-stressed, parent-pleasers-who-never-got-to-be-kids, hellbent on Harvard entrance understand the difference between schooling and learning. I talked more than one kid off a ledge. I lost several others. My teaching experience is probably not unusual.

I never told people I taught English– that’s a subject area– I told them I taught kids– human beings. I tried to teach them how to be good, healthy human beings through reading, writing, talking, and listening. I showed them through my own example as a human being and the examples within history, literature, and contemporary life.  Real teaching is about the who of teaching, not the what or the how or the scores or awards, and this is especially true if you are teaching in the humanities.

Now that I am officially unemployed, I can actually do my job–I haven’t lost my identity or my integrity as a teacher— which is to teach young people about human nature and authentic learning.  Schooling in the traditional sense damages at least as many kids as it benefits. I don’t know the exact ratio or numbers– only that it was enough to give up a pension and health insurance for the rest of my life. I loved teaching (not my “job”) and my colleagues.  We did good work! And schooling itself isn’t all bad– it’s just far too limited, too narrow, and too over-valued in our culture. It needs to be put in its proper place among the far more expansive and broad umbrella of authentic teaching and learning that happens across the landscapes of life.

I can’t fix the school system from the inside; nor am I silly enough to think I can change it through writing a blog or by publishing a book; but what I can do is start a conversation that might get people to think; to reconsider their values; to think about to what end their attention and effort in education is directed; to perhaps look more closely at why a mental health crisis exists among young people; to offer an alternate definition of learning that is more expansive so parents, schools, teachers, and students can feel empowered to authentically learn and teach in whatever ways and capacities possible for each of them; to not cause more suffering, to prevent additional suffering in the future, and to help anyone involved with schooling cope and perhaps even thrive…if they can put schooling in its proper perspective and understand the important differences between learning and schooling.

I also hope to encourage people to value an exploration of inner landscapes as much as, if not more than, “schooling,” studying abroad, or focusing too much attention on the external landscapes– other people, other groups, other-than-ourselves. Yes, I suppose I am asking people to become more self-centered, not in terms of being selfish or self-obsessed, but rather more self-aware, self-loving, self-compassionate, self-knowledgeable; I am, indeed, encouraging everyone to do more yoga.

I hope to encourage teenagers and teachers to discover that they have all the answers to their own lives right within them, if they only spent time getting to know themselves and all that they contain– to tap into inner wisdom, and  spend time within, befriending and becoming more familiar with their inner life maybe more than they focus on their external circumstances or “what’s out there”– whether focusing on social media or paying so much attention to what everyone else is doing. We ought to have more FOMI (Fear of Missing In) instead of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). So many people have lost their connection to themselves, despite being so electronically connected to everyone else and everything else in the world.

Kids need mentors to guide them within and to help them travel their inner landscape. It’s up to teachers and parents and anyone else interested in preserving the humanity of humanity.

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast: The Call of the Wild with exotic animal handler, Niki Cesar Tracchia

“All good things are wild & free”
-Henry David Thoreau

Niki tells her story about traveling across the landscapes of nature– as avid hiker/outdoor enthusiast, wolf-advocate (yes, they need our help!), Bikram yogi, and exotic animal handler. After a not-so-great, though sadly typical, experience with public high “schooling,” Niki blossomed into an avid learner and teacher after she answered what she terms her “Call of the Wild.”

Niki is a wonderful and interesting example of the various forms of learning and teaching that happen outside the narrow academic realm of school.

Click here to listen…

A few quotes from our conversation:

“When life is trying to tell you something, when the some ‘thing’ keeps calling you back, you should probably listen.”

“I learned not to have expectations… or believe in limits about what I could do or couldn’t do.”

“I just knew I was in the right place. I just knew– this is it. This is my life. This is me.”

“So many doors opened for me.”

“I am so grateful….I love my life. I wouldn’t change anything.”

I really hope you enjoy listening to Niki about her sense of self-awareness; interconnectedness; the wild; listening; and openness to what life brings. Her  enthusiasm for authentic forms of learning and teaching are contagious!

27750054_10157092079011040_7352745517903180397_n

27655106_10157083181236040_359049839699476430_n26992021_10157053131306040_3732563790375905608_n27544853_10157087368191040_2534423674221395007_n27459225_10157055507916040_5098955635736099063_n26112130_10156951728096040_1197298691620003628_n

For more information:

Curious Creatures @ https://www.curiouscreatures.org/ 
​The New England original
Interactive LIVE ANIMAL Programs & Parties
Established by Dean Kosch in 1987

Wolf Hollow @ http://www.wolfhollowipswich.org/
114 Essex Road
Ipswich, MA 01938
Tel: (978) 356-0216

Bikram Yoga 
Find a studio location anywhere in the world.
@https://www.bikramyoga.com/

LINK TO PODCAST

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast: Meet World Traveling Yoga Teacher, Changu Changezi

003: Podcast with Changu Changezi

Changu Changezi is an ordinary guy with an inspiring story about learning and landscapes. He is a traveling Bikram yoga teacher who lives his life with integrity, authenticity, and an unshakeable sense of self.

He has been traveling the world teaching Bikram yoga for the past four years, approaching learning with an open heart and an open mind all along his journey.

Whether meditating, practicing or teaching yoga, biking across Canada for charity, being bullied as a young boy in Pakistan, coming unglued from his chair in the corporate world, or dancing,  Changu sees the beauty in everything– every experience, every person he meets, good and bad. Trusting the process of life as ever-unfolding allows him to live deeply connected to himself, others, and the world around him. Ever grateful for all of his life-long learning, Changu consistently lives and speaks his truth.

Our conversation about landscapes for learning includes Changu’s immigration to Canada, transformation, compassion, integrity, Bikram Yoga Teacher Training, world travel, “trusting the process,” teaching, yoga, faith, and more.

Changu and I will chat again in the future, delving more deeply into his traveling and teaching adventures, so enjoy his first podcast and come back for another!

Please check out Changu’s Facebook pages, Tulandandasana Everywhere and Humans of Bikram Yoga for stunning photos from Changu’s yoga postures on gorgeous landscapes around the world and inspirational stories about individual transformation resulting from the practice of Bikram Yoga. 

Watch this incredibly beautiful slow-motion video of Changu below….and his balancing stick poses from around the world!

 

External Links:

https://www.facebook.com/tuladandasanaeverywhere/

https://www.facebook.com/bikramyogaeverywhere/

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Podcast: Grace Tempany, Multi-potentialite and teacher-extraordinaire

Grace and I discuss our desire to begin a conversation about teaching as moral and teaching with courage and integrity. We discuss the need for more authentic forms of teaching and learning in school, so that kids can embark on their individual journeys toward the self rather than just trying to find the right answer for an A on a test or college admission. Enjoy!

Check out Grace’s wonderful work at GraceTempany.com