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Practicing Gratitude

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.

Acknowledgements

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. 

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Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Who to Be or What to Do!

If you don’t take responsibility for designing your own life by figuring out who you really are, then people will forever be telling you what to do and who to be, and you’ll be miserable.

I used Dr. Jordan B. Peterson’s Self Authoring Program and the Big 5 Personality Test he recommended a while back, which enabled me to understand why I was craving change– in my career, in some of my relationships, and my personal mental and physical habits. I recommend both tools to find out more about who you are. They are incredibly helpful, as long as you are honest about what you’ll learn about yourself.

Practicing yoga, writing, meditation and other activities that foster introspection and self-awareness and understanding are the key to deeper, more true and honest connection to your “self.” These are ways to know yourself better than anyone else, and will qualify you to be the authority of your own life! No more unhealthy co-dependence on anything outside of you– people, money, self-help articles!

When you understand MORE about who you really are on the inner landscape, it guides your successful travel on the outer landscape where you can design your life as you see fit.

For more information and insight, listen to Joe Rogan and Dr. Peterson’s excerpted conversation from the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. And once you are done, disconnect from the internet and connect to yourself in one of the ways suggested above!

The episode clip above is excerpted from the JREpodcast #877 with Jordan Peterson

The Joe Rogan Experience Podcasts

Self-Authoring.com

UnderstandYourself.com Big 5 Personality Test and More

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Dear Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Dear Dr. Jordan B. Peterson,

Thank you for being: Courageous, Informed, Logical, Intense, Persistent, and Passionate.

I suppose you could say I have deeply immersed myself in a self-made course called, ‘The life and times of Dr. Jordan B.Peterson.’ I have been reading your book, Maps of Meaning (Routledge, 1999), reading about you online, watching videos about you, listening to your podcasts and listening to podcasts where you are the guest (Joe Rogan, Sam Harris 1 & 2), and intently watching many of your videos about psychology, myth and narrative, maps of meaning, personality, and your position with regard to Canadian Bill C-16. I think you are brave to tackle the controversial issue of free speech and political correctness, especially as it applies to life at university and educational institutions, but I am even more grateful for access to your instruction about Jung, narrative, psychoanalysis, and the humanities in general.

My readers can inform themselves by listening to your videos and podcasts because I can’t quite do your argument about political correctness justice here, nor can I adequately describe the depth and breadth of your knowledge about psychology, philosophy, history, and human nature. All I really want to say is thank you— for making me think even more deeply and critically about myself and others, about the notion of identity and social groups, as well as the nature of good and evil, and the power and value of language. I especially enjoyed your talk called “The Necessity of Virtue” and both my son and I found your self-authoring program helpful.

One of the goals at Landscapes for Learning is to celebrate our shared humanity through storytelling and to spotlight all sorts of fabulous teaching and learning that occurs across the various landscapes of life (internal and external, near and far). The stories collected will not be limited  to academia or famous, “successful” people. I believe you are an ordinary person doing extraordinary things with your particular talents.

I have included a comment I found about one of your YouTube videos below because it articulates the importance of your voice in modern civic discourse today which is in desperate need of rehabilitation:

“The people who criticize Dr. Peterson in the comments below just based on what he’s expressing here would be well served to go to his channel and start listening to some of his lectures on philosophy, psychology, ideology, and how these ideas work in history and social contexts. His insights transcend the extremes of any ideology. The various polarizing extremes of ideology that are dominating modern civic discourse have deep roots in human and social group psychology, which has been a dominant theme in his various lectures, as I have interpreted them.

People, as a general rule, have almost no understanding of basic psychology, and by extension, have no real control over themselves and what they think. And I would suggest that people are already at a point in social conditioning that they have been wired to act in an dictated manner, without even realizing it. And since they act in a way that they have been programmed to feel is “doing the right thing”, it’s an ego reward and feeds that behavior to react. And that’s a big piece of what is going on in modern discourse, the majority are acting as reactionaries. They are actively seeking things out to react to, typically in a negative manner. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s not only extremely unhealthy for social systems, it’s likely just as unhealthy for the individual.

I’ve said it over and over, if people want to improve the world, or political systems, or whatever, the best thing they could do is get a basic handle of human psychology and their own psychology. Until people understand how their own mind works, they can never solve anything outside of it, and will continue to be manipulated by insidious external forces they aren’t even aware of.

Dr. Peterson analyzes philosophy, psychology, history, social systems, etc, and the ways they intersect with critically deep insight. Before you dismiss him based on one lecture, do yourself a favor and listen to more of his work. The best lectures on philosophy I’ve listened to are by Dr. Peterson…”
—-Strangersound, Youtube, March 28, 2017

Your work has reaffirmed and positively contributed to the way I teach my high school students to be heroes in their own lives. By trying to understand their human nature through the examination of archetypal stories as these pertain to their own personal psychology, I think they may be on a path to awakening and finding real meaning in their young lives, rather than blindly adhering to the cultural values of overconsumption, narcissism, and extreme egocentrism. Also, your comments about writing have been added to my repertoire in helping young people understand the value of lifelong learning, precise language, the power of logical argumentation, and writing skill.

You have an amazing ability to articulate your interpretation of the human psyche and the world and its contemporary array of problems and suffering in the context of your knowledge and understanding of history and psychology. Even if people disagree with some or almost all of what you teach, they cannot possibly deny that you are informed, articulate, and dedicated to the service to something much bigger than yourself.

I happen to think your voice is exactly what is needed right now, particularly in this time in history. I am glad people are listening. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Educator @ Landscapes for Learning