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.
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.
I am currently watching “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis” which are lectures by University of Toronto assistant professor, John Vervaeke. (The man has “Know Thyself” tattooed on his back!) I highly recommend his work if you want to learn more about the difference between modern self-help/narcissism and classical self-examination for wisdom and fulfillment.
Like Vervaeke’s lectures, my book, the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon) is about awakening and meaning, aka self-realization, but unlike Vervaeke’s lectures it is a layman’s tool for its simplicity in explaining why to know thyself for wellness and how to engage in that ongoing, meaningful process on a concrete moment-to-moment basis throughout your life. I wrote the book and designed it as a self-study curricula, chunking it into 5 easily digestible sections in non-academic language for people of average intelligence like me. I am not a scholar like Vervaeke, but only a keen observer of my own life experiences– my best teachers––and a writer willing to share my learning to help others.
I think a lot of modern people are being pulled (physically, emotionally, psychologically, from their heart-center, conscience, or intuition) toward more love, wisdom and meaning in their lives––to what TRULY MATTERS–– rather than merely chasing more knowledge, information, status, material just to compete or win or achieve.
If that sounds like you, then pair watching Vervaeke’s lectures for a most panoramic academic explanation of the process of pursuing a life of meaning and wisdom and read my Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness to put self-study for self-realization into daily practice for wellness!
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?
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!
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.
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
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.
In this podcast, I read Part V: LEARNING from
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)
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.
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.
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!
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
- Learned how to podcast (check!)
- Created a draft of an online course (check!)
- Turned online course into a self-directed learning curriculum: a Self Study Guide for people to use privately, in their own space (check!)
- Wrote and published said Self-Study Guide on Amazon. Sold (and selling) to Bikram Yoga studios and online! (check!)
- Incorporated as Landscapes for Learning, LLC! (check!)
- 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!
Want to be better, kinder, and more understanding to yourself?
Come Learn About
Self-Study for Self-Realization
October 19th, 2019
Signed copies of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide (2019) will be available for purchase!
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
A Wisdom Curriculum For Authentic Learning Beyond Schooling and for Fostering Our Shared Humanity!
Understanding your own human nature through paying attention to learn about yourself in particular ways using the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness will teach you (among other things) about your limitations, your amazing potential, and the myriad of possibilities for transcending those limits to fully self-realize and self-actualize.
You are pure potential
You have incredible potential just waiting to be actualized, passions to be uncovered, and many weaknesses that are likely suppressed that could surface at any time and cause unwanted or unintended damage.
Consider: How many times have you been alternately either pleasantly surprised by your own talents or prowess and horrified at your own weakness and unintended bad behavior?
Make your daily life better
Rather than deny our weaknesses and animal nature, pretend they don’t exist, or repress them, we ought to study them, understand them, and manage them as productively as possible.
We all need to intentionally and very deliberately learn more about who we are and understand what it means to be human—both rational and animal— so we can express our very best and manage our very worst.
Putting our truth under a spotlight is the path to freedom, and it is the most responsible work a person can do for themselves and for others (which is also why so many people don’t want to do it! Freedom requires responsibility and that’s work!)
The process may not be pretty, for self realization is not about happiness per se but the struggle to be the fully-expressed YOU, and it is exactly how the meaning of your life is to be found.
My Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness (now on sale in the Kindle Store and in paperback at Amazon.com) is the result of so many other people’s work and their unique service to others. The content within the Self Study Guide I have created isn’t anything new–it’s classic wisdom– to know thyself—but the way I divide self study into five parts, each with tools and practices that work for me in my life and hopefully might work for yours, is original.
My perspective of classic wisdom in the context of my unique experiences as a mother, high school teacher, and Bikram Yoga teacher, and student of counseling psychology is also unique. Still, people might ask, why bother writing about what so many others already teach? My answer is this: more help for wellness is always needed in the world; the reputation of Bikram Yoga could use some redemption by sharing more detailed information about the psycho-therapeutic value of the practice; and although I definitely don’t think I can deliver this important information any better than others, (I give my writing a B) I can do it differently which may make the same information (know thyself for wellness) more accessible to some folks, compared to the way others might also be conveying it. You never know how your work may resonate with people, so you should share it! It won’t have any chance of doing anyone any good if I don’t– that is for certain.
Anyway…everything I read, watched, and listened to over the past several years spoke directly to what I had been learning in my personal Bikram yoga practice, through my travels, in my teaching, while parenting, and writing. Lots of what I was discovering through my own introspection and reflection, what I call traveling my inner landscape, was being articulated in various ways by the many people listed below. I thank them for speaking their truth in their own ways, using their own means and talents, within their own spheres of influence. Such connection with others– whether family, friends, strangers, or the long since deceased through their classic work is an amazing part of being human. I am grateful. The Acknowledgements section from the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human follows below.
I’d like to thank my son for our many conversations and his referrals to podcasts and book titles, philosophical, historical, psychological and otherwise. Jack introduced me to The Joe Rogan Experience which, in turn, led me to many other interesting, informative teachers and entertaining guests, like podcaster Rich Roll. Both Roll’s life story (Finding Ultra) and Rogan’s most recommended book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield motivated me to identify and conquer my own “ inner bitch” otherwise known as “Resistance” (with a capital “R”) and radically change my life, at midlife. I quit my job as a high school teacher, packed one small bag, and traveled the world to teach Bikram Yoga, write, and promote self-realization “process living” —my own and others’ for wellness.
Rich Roll’s personal story of transformation and his work in new media exemplifies the results of all five tenets of this Self Study Guide. His life story illustrates that redemption is possible when we discover our truest most authentic selves and live its fullest expression. It takes audacity, courage, and grit to not “live a life of quiet desperation” in the words of H.D.Thoreau, a line Roll often references. We are all in need of recovery and redemption, and we do have what it takes deep inside of us to become our truest most human selves, if we could only tap into it through quiet introspection to awaken and undo our cultural conditioning. Roll and his wife, Julie often say, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” If each of us can realize this, and drop our masks, it would radically transform us enough to collectively heal ourselves and our planet.
Another guest I heard on the Joe Rogan Experience and need to thank is Dr. Jordan B. Peterson. Bowled over at how he articulated so much of what I had intuitively learned from my yoga practice and from having studied and taught the great stories and philosophers of the Western humanities tradition, I like many thousands of people, immersed myself in learning from his lectures online, completing the Self Authoring Suite and personality tests at Understandmyself.com. All of this helped me with my own personal self study and my continual transformation. Through Dr. Peterson’s work, I discovered the connections between psychoanalysis, archetypal stories from the Humanities traditions both East and West, and yoga in a broader sense. He introduced me to Carl Jung and Carl Rogers, which helped me realize that I was interested in pursuing a more therapeutic relationship with students as human beings who are trying to “become people” (Rogers, 1961) and away from a strictly academic relationship that is more about delivering curriculum and judging and assessing “hard” academic skills. Readers will recognize the influences of these psychologists throughout the Self Study Guide. Studying human nature (as a concept, as an intellectual exercise, through teaching world literature) in the classroom led me to studying actual individuals’ natures and, of course, my own.
Thanks, again, to my son, I found the Tim Ferriss podcast which led me to so many other wise teachers and great learning resources. Ferriss gave me access to Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way— her “morning pages” and so much more about identity and discovery of the true self through writing. Cameron’s work is about human nature and spirituality which is why it is a book for everyone, not just writers and creative types. As well, I traveled solo for almost a year inspired by Ferriss’ example and Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding. I learned more about integrity and relationship building as well as modern education’s need for teaching more “soft skills” from Seth Godin a regular Ferriss podcast guest. Finally, two of the most interesting and genuinely personal conversations happened between Ferriss and Buddhist teacher and psychologist, Jack Kornfield, as well as his talk with addiction and recovery specialist, Dr. Gabor Mate. Tim Ferriss was learning about himself, becoming more awakened I think, in those conversations and it was profound to hear. Like Rogan and Roll’s conversations with a variety of amazing human beings, that sort of rich, deep and authentic dialogue about pain, love, humanity, integration, wholeness and meaning is the therapy we need to immerse ourselves in, especially in our modern culture.
Along with these wise mentors, Cathy Heller’s “Don’t Keep Your Day Job” podcast provided the enthusiasm, concrete reasons, and practical examples of how I could actually become exactly who I was meant to be and why I’d be inauthentic and unhappy if I didn’t! Cathy just seemed to keep saying everything I needed to hear at exactly the right times. I owe her much gratitude for being herself and expressing herself boldly and bravely without giving a fu*k, as Mark Manson, another important influence would say. Manson’s audacious writing voice and style encouraged me to unabashedly exercise my own, publicly, and inspired me to start blogging. He is candid and courageous to write about the subject of values, especially honesty, which is sorely needed right now.
I also discovered The Minimalists and Leo Babauta (Zenhabits.net), who I credit for teaching me that it is possible to live out of one bag, with nothing but my own core values, not only for a year of travel as a Bikram Yoga teacher but for the rest of my days at home. In a world of excess, The Minimalists’ message echoes that of Henry David Thoreau— the classic wisdom of living simply and deliberately— for modern times. Simplifying encouraged me to make more mindful choices in my daily life and shaped my perspective about what really matters.
Most of all I need to thank Bikram Choudhury, the rogue of the American yoga world– the controversial guru modern yogis love to reject. Bikram is a great teacher both in spite of and because of his flaws and mostly for his brutal honesty. He taught me about how much we reject the truth when it hurts the most and how we are keen to run from pain and vulnerability. I see him as a wonderful example of what we humans Resist (with a capital R) about our own human nature. His yoga system and his Teacher Training changed my life which, in turn, has (hopefully) positively impacted more students of mine than I can count. This Self Study Guide is my attempt to bring the message of Bikram’s yoga, which is about self realization, to as many people as possible.
Practicing Bikram Yoga is about facing fear, finding truth, and becoming more vital and alive. It’s a present moment laboratory for observing one’s own human struggle between the animal and rational. I am more real, congruent as famed psychologist Carl Rogers (1980) would say, and authentically me in all ways mental, physical, and spiritual because of this embodied practice of self study.
By breaking attachment and dependencies on externals and struggling with self understanding to change and heal through yoga, I learn to accept life as it is rather than how I want it to be. I don’t do any of this consistently or with ease, but I try, consciously and deliberately to suffer better. I try more courageously to express my creativity and truth, because I understand it, deeply and intuitively, as a life force that flows through me, rather than thinking I could possibly conjure anything like it on my own.
Learning to love and accept my whole self and my limited, challenging human condition empowers me to love all living things, fiercely and with great empathy and compassion. The world needs such love and compassion now, more than ever; it needs more dialogue too, especially more mindful listening to ourselves, our intuition, and to others. I hope the Self Study Guide can inch people closer to knowing themselves by slowing, quieting, and listening to discover, express, and share their uniqueness and their truth with others.
If each of us struggles to follow the classic wisdom to “know thyself,” and love and accept ourselves, truly, not the roles we play or the masks we wear but the true being that we each are: animal thus limited, yet conscious and perhaps even divine, we can minimize unnecessary suffering and suffer better, together.
The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness is the result of everything I’ve learned from these people noted above and many other very wise people below who encouraged me to “do my yoga”— in other words, to study myself to know the real me and live my truth.
Additional love and gratitude to: Rob Donovan, Ryan Quinn, Grace Tempany, Myozen Joan Amaral, Hector Lopez, Pierre Ratte, Frank Murray, Brandy Keevan, Shannon Englehardt, Teri Almquist, Rachel Horwitz, Polly Edwards, Jason Destasio, all my Bikram Yoga Teacher Training mates, fellow Bikram Yoga teachers and traveling teacher mates, especially Changu, Claire, Sarah, & Kiran. Thank you to my children: Jack, Shea, Regan and Riley, and all my past and present students– you’ve always been my best and most valued teachers.
Along with daily journal writing, one of my most important tools for self-realization and wellness is Bikram’s Hot Yoga practice. To find out more about how stretching in a hot room for 90 minutes can re-define and improve your relationship with yourself (as ONE tool for SELF-REALIZATION), read my latest book, Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness!
The e-book is designed for easily poking around to its various parts and full of links to amazing resources for wellness. There’s something in this book for everyone!
“The modern world is full of distraction—all sorts of demands on our attention exist. So one very important purpose of the Bikram Yoga method of using the Dialogue is to grant people an occasion to learn about their own attention so they can learn how it works and how to leverage it best for optimal health and wellness—not just to be “good at yoga” but for their lives more broadly speaking. Understanding one’s own attention is part of self-realization, and this is one way that Bikram Yoga practice can transform a person’s life.”—-Excerpted from Part 1: Attention in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness available for only $9.99 at the Kindle Store at Amazon.com.
“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.
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:
- about your own attention and how to turn it inward
- to become more introspective to increase your self awareness;
- about the purpose and value of facing challenges and fear (a little bit at a time!);
- about how making more informed and mindful choices from a central locus of control are keys to wellness; and
- 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.
If you are human and drive yourself crazy with thinking, maybe Alan Watts can assist you in accepting yourself as the “quaking mess” that you are with all your crazy human beingness, letting go of resisting, and letting go of resisting resistance.
Is it possible to try hard to live a good life AND let go of feeling guilty that you aren’t the spiritual, intellectual, or physical saint, genius, and specimen you expect yourself to be?
Watts encourages us to trust the process, and like water, we’ll find the way without tension and without illusion.
He says that meditation is observation without judgement. It is acceptance of what is without trying to change what is. No “shoulds” or “oughts,” only observation for the sake of noticing.
According to Watts, you are an “aperture”—the universe watching itself, rather than a distinct self watching the world.
Check out this excerpt from Watt’s lecture on Buddhism.
If 2017 was a year of travel for me, then 2018 was the year of writing about my various journeys across the landscapes for learning, inside and out.
Much of what I have written in my life is based on observation and reflection about learning—my own, or others’, as well as learning in the broadest sense.
Sometimes I share my “professional” learning with others publicly as I did when I published The Graphic Novel Classroom (Corwin Press, 2011) for educators. Most times I don’t share my “personal” learning that I’ve been recording almost daily in paper-bound journals over the last two and one half decades. A hybrid of both professional and personal writing is this blog and the soon-to- be-completed Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.
In hindsight, I am glad I have consistently written about my life both professionally and personally because I can revisit my history and see its value, especially in terms of learning. I can see how far I have come and how I have grown. I can see “mistakes” and “wrong” turns that were responsible for such growth and now inform my future direction. I know where some of the potholes are and am better at avoiding them. As Louise May Alcott wrote, “I am less afraid because I am learning how to steer my ship.”
Because I have recorded my learning in writing, I can see the personal strength and flexibility I’ve built over time through the trial and error process and this motivates and inspires me to keep struggling forward. It reminds me that the current pain will be worth the health, integrity, and satisfaction of my future self.
I can rely on myself in the future as a result of my attention to the work of being me in the past, and for taking on the responsibility for knowing who I am. Without self-study, without writing about my learning experiences throughout my life, I’d be useless to others, unable to connect with them, serve, or teach.
By looking back on my personally recorded history, I can have faith that life will happen for me exactly as it should because it always has, and that I don’t need to try to force things to happen or control the future. I can see how my attempts at control merely postponed acceptance of truth. I can also stay more open to the mysteries that will inevitably unfold (like a flower petal blooming) and cultivate an attitude of curiosity about the unknown– the potential that will actualize– instead of being afraid of it or resisting it. Surrender is powerful.
I have also learned that my current pain and suffering, whatever it may be whether self-induced anxiety or from external “accidents” beyond my control, shall pass, as these always have and always will. I have the stories of my past, in writing, as proof of the truths of what it means to be human and what it means to be specifically and uniquely me.
If I continue to approach all of my experiences as opportunities to learn, to observe my life as it unfolds organically, then I can enjoy it, be grateful and appreciative, and use what I have already learned to continue to be healthy, secure, and well and help others do the same.
I am not a Pollyanna nor am I wearing rose-colored glasses.
It’s not that everything works out the way I want it to or that everything always turns out well; it’s not that I don’t make the same mistakes twice (or more). It’s simply that, for me, using writing for reflection has been an incredibly useful tool for becoming more wise over time and more well. And as I keep becoming more of who I am, well, it just so happens that that’s the meaning and joy of my one, short, precious life. If I am reflective and continually witness the unfolding of my true self, and accept that truth, especially when it’s difficult, I can love my life even more and resist its discomforts less!
As I age and become even more experienced, more keenly reflective, and more honest in my writing, the more alive and robust I feel, yet at the same time, I feel less rigid, less anxious, and more humble about all there is still yet to be discovered. I continue to see how much I really don’t know. Now, at almost 50, I am surely not the same person as I was at 40 or 20. Who will I be at 60 or 80?
My life, as I record it through writing, has taught me that a sense of security is not the same thing as permanence, and trying to control and cling to safety is not the way to live well. Just because my life has been constant change, that the world is constantly changing (faster and faster most recently), it doesn’t mean I am not secure and safe. The one thing that has remained consistent is the entity called “me”– the experiencer, this reflective, evolving being who writes. Writing has been a critical tool for my self-knowledge. And knowing myself better is foundational for my good health and wellbeing.
I write to articulate my life to myself, not as self indulgence, not as self-obsessive or selfish, but as self-care, as therapy. I also can share who I am with others, if I choose, certainly not to give prescriptive advice about how to be or do life (I don’t recommend anyone be like me! and I don’t have the answers for you!) but to let others know they aren’t alone on this journey of figuring out how to become a person (Rogers). I can share my struggles and successes with others, but like any diet or recipe, what “works” for me may not apply to others’ unique constitutions. We are all so specific which is why we have to understand ourselves as well as possible to apply the exact prescriptions for our individual selves.
The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is my newest way of publicly sharing my learning from a life of writing, teaching, and yoga practice. I outline a few insights, practices, and techniques I have learned along my travels, both professionally and personally, on the outer and inner landscapes of life, to help me be wiser and more well.
These insights, practices, and techniques are not a secret, nor are they original. They’ve been in the toolbox of humanity for a very long time. They are recorded in the literature and history of the ages, rooted in the wisdom traditions from both East and West. I’ve discovered them, applied and tested them over time, and found they work very well for a meaningful trek to knowing oneself in our modern world. I hope you discover that they can work for you as well, in your own way, to meet your own individual and unique needs to know who you are and express that truth.
I hope next year when I reflect in writing about 2019 that I will be able to report that the personal learning I chose to share publicly in the form of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide has helped propel my life and others’ lives in the direction it’s meant to go. I trust that it will.
I have heard Joe Rogan interview Jordan Peterson many times, so often that I was reluctant to listen to them talk again. As I plugged in my headphones and headed out the door on my usual morning walk with my fantastic dog, Finn, I asked myself, what else can I possibly learn from these guys? Should I get out of this rabbit hole? Are they going to talk about the same things they always do? It’s all so familiar to me. Then I started thinking about the nature of the word “familiar” and all its associations: family, sense of security, home, contentment, but also complacency and boredom.
I noticed that once I think I “know” a thing really well, I like to switch the focus of my attention elsewhere, to what’s novel. I like constant stimulation. I like newness and challenge. But, on further reflection, I also know I like and need stability, order, and sameness for a sense of security, a base from which I can take new risks, handle new stimulation, and build more insight and experience. I am describing the yin and yang of authentic learning (which is an entirely different thing from schooling and academic achievement.) Broadly speaking, learning is a psychological balance between a sense of permanence and novelty.
Personally, I am conscious of the value of the learning process in my own life, and am working hard here at Landscapes for Learning to make this process available to others in the form of a more complete and ongoing education for personal development and wellness. My way of keeping my wheel of self-study turning and rolling forward is to share my love for learning with others.
Sometimes I cling too tightly to security and resist change; sometimes I roll to the other extreme and risk too much and fail a bunch. The process is a balancing act on the landscapes for learning, but as long as I am active and consciously aware of my own learning, that wheel rolls. I believe that if more people can become consciously aware of this process of learning and understand themselves better, they’ll manage the balance most effectively for a happier and more fulfilling human experience.
Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide contains motivation, tools, and practices to help people become new kinds of learners for a modern world that requires balance and change management more than ever before. It’s my way of sharing my personal tools and practices for wellness developed through my life as a humanities teacher, writer, Bikram yogi, and student of many amazing teachers (including the two men in the podcast embedded in this post). Knowing thyself is the key to self-realization and unlocking one’s potential and therefore wellness and wellbeing, especially now, in modern times. An attitude of openness to learning, flexible mindset, and humility– the realization that there’s always more to learn to grow— is essential for thriving with vitality in this new age. We cannot afford to stay stuck clinging to security and permanence which aren’t real but rather we must learn to find the balance between the familiar and foreign.
The landscapes of life are for learning– always —because we (and everything else) are always changing. Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson are always changing and learning; the interaction between them will always give birth to something new and include what’s stable between them. I can learn from them. I can learn more about myself because I am different from the last time I heard their previous conversations. Because we are alternately familiar to ourselves and foreign to ourselves, as the yin and yang of who we are, we can always know and learn more.
There’s no such thing as mastery when it comes to learning. You can never know it all, ever. Jordan Peterson would say the process of learning is to walk the edge between chaos and order, and he is only restating in his own terms what the greatest minds over the course of human history of the East and West have discovered and said already; it’s the wisdom of humanity.
Jordan Peterson is only one of many who articulates the wisdom of humanity in interesting ways that make it particularly accessible to people struggling to find meaning in their lives. He’s made ancient wisdom modern self help. I am trying to do the same through my Landscapes for Learning mission and the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. which is curriculum that empowers people to figure out who they are.
Lots of people inform others about the keys to wellness or the wisdom of the past; my work in the Self Study Guide is about “the how” to inspire people and give them the motivation, support, tools, and practices to implement today, in their everyday lives, for wellness.
The video above is purposely cued for you to begin at the end of their almost three hour conversation because it is when they talk about how finding meaning in life is more about ATTENTION than it is about INTELLIGENCE. A meaningful life is more about DISCOVERY than it is about CONTROL. (Listen to them talk about the antidote to moral relativism and the danger of intelligence from 2:09-2:19…)
Around the 2:20 point in the podcast, JRE and JBP talk about how much we don’t know about who we are and how you have to watch yourself and learn as YOU and life are constantly coming into being, as a series of continual births and deaths, as JBP says. Reflection is key. That, and honesty, are the foundational principles of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide. Honest self reflection and writing go hand in hand to know what you think and feel in order to grow and learn, and to grow and learn is to be more alive and vital in the world. You provide yourself with your own therapy when you use the tools in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.
“Logos” is an interesting concept Jordan Peterson often talks about which is about how we articulate our selves through speech. Reading or observing ourselves and our experiences and articulating them by writing them down or talking about them is the crux of self-reflection and introspection that is necessary to know who we are. The Self-Study Guide I have created is designed for people to do just that– articulate who they are to themselves. Like my Bikram Yoga practice has been for me, introspective writing is another tool for self-realization, for unlocking one’s potential. As Peterson says in the interview with Rogan, personal reflection is essential for understanding how to get back into the place of FLOW, where you want to be– where meaning lives and where you are connected to the core of your being. Yes and Yes!
I have made it my job at Landscapes for Learning to help people discover themselves, who they really are to unlock their potential, find their “flow,” and be the best and most unique individual they were born to be. Through providing inspiring examples, motivation, various forms of education and curriculum, and coaching, I hope to empower people to self-actualize which is a lifetime process requiring tremendous honesty and effort. This is more than another self-help endeavor. Knowing who you are is your life’s work and totally worth the time and effort for the meaning and purpose it provides.
I didn’t think I could learn more from JRE and JBP because I am so familiar with them, but I always learn more both from what’s familiar or secure and from what’s novel or foreign. There’s always more potential waiting to be actualized if you intentionally engage with the path that lays itself out for you keeping that attitude of discovery Peterson talks about. Life is an adventure story and you are its hero.
Follow what you are drawn to as the way forward on your path, consciously choosing to approach all of your life as landscapes for learning. And if you pay careful attention to yourself to learn more about your own nature and who you are, that is– if you travel the inner landscapes with the attitude of a curious learner, you’ll never be stunted, bored, or complacent. The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide will show you how and give you concrete activities and exercises to do to learn to navigate the interior of you for a life of meaning and vitality.
“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.
“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.
“An unexamined life is not worth living”– Socrates
Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self-Study Guide is designed to inspire and motivate individuals of all ages to live an “examined” life and give people simple, pragmatic tools for everyday use to begin their journey to know themselves better than anyone else ever could. The process of self study enables each person to specifically articulate him or herself and author their own personal destiny.
By engaging in self-study, you will learn why and how exploring your inner landscape to know who you really are will improve your relationship with yourself and as a result, with others. And relationships are everything!
You will realize more about your potential and how to actualize when you know what you are like through observing, analyzing, and reflecting on yourself. The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide gives you directions that you can use constantly or intermittently over the course of your days, years, and life time! You will learn by teaching yourself, using your own direct experience and by tailoring the resources, tools, and practices contained in the Self-Study Guide to fit your needs. You have 100% control over the process once the Guide is yours and you learn how it works.
“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!”
“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.
“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!
“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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
“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)
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!
Listen to your nudges, bitches. They’re never wrong. When you ignore them or you are too afraid to do what they ask, they usually show up as aches and pains in your body, or in your mind, or both. Denial, distraction, and ignorance will make you sick and suffer-– maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long term.
HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR NUDGES
Practicing Bikram Yoga gives you the opportunity to listen to your nudges and to face them to find the truth. This is hard. Lots of people would rather live in denial, distracted, and avoid the challenge of the hot room which serves as a crucible of honesty.
If you practice Bikram Yoga consistently and study yourself, by turning your attention inward instead of focusing on the distractions around you, you will start to notice patterns: you’ll notice, with curiosity rather than judgment, those subtle aches and pains in your body and in your mind. Noticing and learning about your mind-body connection will enable you to take a step toward putting the pieces of the puzzle of your true self together.
The underlying truth of your life is the source of those nudges. The truth will surface with time and consistent practice as you courageously face the nudges and deal with them– explore them. If you ignore them, as Jo Simpson says in her TedTalk, (or you expect someone else to “fix” them for you and act as a victim) they’ll slap you across the face or steam roll you later in the form of greater suffering or poor health or tragedy. Best to listen now rather than later.
PRACTICE PAYING ATTENTION
Bikram Yoga is an incredibly helpful tool for strengthening your attention, practicing listening, and gaining the strength of character and grit to take responsibility for the hard truths of your life when they come. You will be prepared to face whatever life throws at you because you will have learned how to manage your suffering. You’ll have prepared through disciplined PRACTICE. (And here you are thinking yoga is about posing in spandex and posting self-indulgent photos on Instagram!)
If you build your strength and flexibility by doing what’s difficult in your practice, of staying in the room and trying, you’ll be right there, open enough, paying attention enough to receive your TRUTH!
STAY OPEN & VULNERABLE
That’s why I always include the line in the dialogue, “Mama, give me money!” when I am teaching. That’s why I reinforce keeping your eyes OPEN and your palms open in savasana– just in case that truth arrives, you’ll be ready to receive it. Show up, focus inward, and listen– to the nudges that will guide you to truth.
You may not like the nudges or understand them because usually they aren’t rational, and vulnerability is uncomfortable and scary, but you’ll be building the courage to accept the nudges as important signs to do as you should to be healthy.
And those pains in your mind and body will magically dissolve, not really by magic at all, but rather through your attention and hard work, that is– discipline. This is why it’s YOUR practice and we ask you to look at yourself in the mirror, not at your teacher. There’s nothing special about us on the podium. We give you the conditions of the room and the words; you do the rest. It’s not about the teacher and how much “energy” or “entertainment” they bring to the class– if the teacher and their antics are your focus, then you won’t hear what your inner world needs to tell you. You might not notice the nudges. Your yoga isn’t about anybody else but YOU.
BE YOUR OWN BEST WINGMAN
Knowing yourself by listening, paying yourself some loving, compassionate, and honest attention for 90 minutes– as if you came to spend some time with someone you really want to be with, someone you really care about— is your homemade, unique prescription for wellness.
As Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink always says, freedom comes from DISCIPLINE. Bikram yoga is a form of very effective discipline– of showing up on your mat and PAYING ATTENTION— of heading inward bound to know the real you, to your truth and its source.
You want more answers about what the hell is happening for you in your life? Want more wisdom? More wellness? Listen to the nudges, bitches.
SEE YOU IN THE HOT ROOM!❤️🔥
STAY TUNED FOR SELF STUDY for WISDOM AND WELLNESSWORKSHOPS COMING SOON TO A BIKRAM YOGA STUDIO
“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.
Johnathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s The Coddling of the American Mind
Help the Landscapes for Learning Mission catch fire! Please share!
Please “Like” on Itunes.
Follow Landscapes for Learning: @ LandscapesforLearning.com
Podcast Music: Creative Commons License for “Political Lunatics” by Earthling (intro and outro music)
“Political Lunatics” by Earthling
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.
Please “like” on iTunes and share with friends who might be interested in the future of American education.
It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling
Since everyone seems to be publishing books with rules for life and lists for “best” something or other, I thought I would make a list of possible take-aways from It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling, my newest memoir of a life in school currently in progress. Truth be told, I am revising the manuscript and wondering what the heck it is I am trying to convey to readers, so I wrote a list for myself and so why not share it with you?
- The landscapes of our lives are for learning. Experiences are opportunities for change and growth.
- Schooling: content knowledge, prestige, and degrees aren’t the key to happy life. Keep the value of schooling in proper perspective, especially if you consider the potential demands of the future.
- A “successful” or meaning-filled, healthy life of wellbeing isn’t pain-free and it isn’t about the grades.
- Know thyself. This will be the way to self-realize, self-actualize, leverage schooling AND meaning for wholeness and continual growth throughout your entire life.
- Connecting with your inner landscape requires more time alone and more attention for introspection and less time traveling the external landscape of social media, screens, distraction, noise of society and culture.
- The values of culture in the extreme (competition, comparison, consumerism) will fuck you up if you stay asleep/ignorant to the influences upon you and don’t know who you really are.
- Passion happens for you; you need to practice listening and pay regular attention to your inner guide.
- Disconnect and reconnect to one’s truth: more mirrors (through writing or yoga) and fewer screens (see #5 and #6)
- FOMI instead of FOMO will better serve us for the unknown future.
- PAUSE: Pursue An Understanding of Self by detaching from Externals.(see # 5)
- Yoga is union and self-realization. Connection to one’s inner truth and divinity can get lost or watered down substantially, but can be recovered with attention, compassion, and hard work over time. If I can do it, anyone can.
- The answer to “who am I?” is right under your nose (your breath).
- Life is suffering. Don’t run away. Pick the better poison, instead.
- Pain and fear are your best teachers. Face them with an attitude of interest and as lessons for learning. (A crack or a canyon is also an opening– peer into it and see what you can find.)
- Put your oxygen mask on first. The world needs more heroes and fewer martyrs.
- Good teachers aren’t models to copy but witnesses who walk alongside you on your journey. They have no real authority over you. You can learn from them but you aren’t them and never will be.
- Humanity, shared humanity, and one’s own humanity should be the center of every curriculum.
- Education for the future should be more about soft skills than hard skills and take place in person with moral and ethical teachers who know their own truth. (see #17)
- A lack of integrity causes illness of all forms within individuals and institutions.
- Be authentic from inside out. Be loyal to truth, not merely social roles and identities. Avoid labels.
- Travel all the landscapes beyond schooling.
- Wake up. Express your truth with your unique voice, without shame. Be vulnerable to learn. Tell yourself the truth. DO YOU.
- Love yourself unconditionally so you can do the same for others. That’s foundational to social justice.
- Learn about the nature of limits. Test all limits (internally and externally). See forks in the road and obstacles as endless possibilities for change and growth.
- Teaching discipline is the most important part of parenting.
- Live with the desire for balance. Keep trying to achieve it. Avoid extremes.
- It’s amazing how much we don’t know. Reason to keep learning…forever and to be humble.
27 is my favorite number, so I will stop there.
If It’s Not About the Grades, then what kind of Learning Beyond Schooling?
Modern schooling still subscribes to the notion that “If it [skills/learning] isn’t measurable, it doesn’t matter,” but this is totally outdated! According to Seth Godin, real work that matters, that is purposeful and fulfilling, relies more on “soft skills” than “hard skills.”
I believe that knowing oneself deeply by practicing tools for self awareness (introspection, writing, yoga, meditation, et al) and developing more soft skills is what parents and educators should be focusing on instead of the achievement and quest for grades for (overpriced/over-valued) college that merely shows the ability to play the game of traditional schooling well (temporary ingestion and synthesis of information and limited hard skills).
Educators need to let go of the content-coverage-curriculum mindset and make education about authentic learning: problem-solving, cooperation (rather than competition), an open exchange of ideas (crazy ones especially), character-building practices (honesty, integrity, patience, resilience, determination, self-control), mistakes, more mistakes, and play, as well as healthy dialogue.
Valuing balance, adapting to rapid change, and building our sense of security in a foundational sense of authentic humanity (our own and others’) is the education necessary for the future. AI and robots will take care of the “hard skills,” so perhaps we humans should spend more time “being human.” Each of us will be healthier, better prepared, and empowered for an unpredictable future in both measurable and immeasurable ways.