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A Self Study Guide for Wellness

The unexamined life is not worth living.”— Socrates

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness is designed to inspire and motivate you to live an “examined” life and give you simple, pragmatic tools for everyday use. It’s about the why and how to “know thyself,” so you can express your uniqueness for a lifetime of wellness and wellbeing. This five part process of self study will enable you to specifically articulate yourself to yourself and empower you to more deliberately author your own life story.

The purpose of the Self Study Guide is to encourage you to look inward at least as often as you look outward which is why it begins with attention. Look up from your screens, away from teachers, friends, experts, and yes, even your parents, to look inward at your own human nature because that’s where your integrity and passion reside as well as all the answers about who you are and how to live well.

The Self Study Guide is a five part program will teach you why and how to:

(1) manage your attention and understand its relationship to your values, 

(2) increase your self-awareness

(3) realize the value of embracing challenge to build character, discipline, and resilience, 

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

(5) approach life with the attitude of a lifelong learner to cultivate growth mindset and an openness to experience.

Self study is about reflection, introspection, and radical honesty to improve your human experience. We aren’t here for very long, so get started living your best life today!

Get your copy of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness Available for only $9.99 at Amazon.com.

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Writing for Self Realization

“I write to understand as much as to be understood.”
–Elie Wiesel

Write to know yourself.

Writing is a proven method for identifying, clarifying, organizing, and processing thoughts and emotions (Faber, 2016; Pennebaker & Smyth, 2016), and it’s an extremely useful modality for improving health and wellness (Pennebaker & Smyth, 2016). Your writing is essential to the process of discovering who you are and a critical tool for self study. Writing will help you analyze and evaluate the results of some of the activities contained in the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.

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Writing as a Ritual for Self-Care

Disconnecting from distractions to reconnect to your inner self is powerful act for learning. It’s unrealistic to never use electronic devices as part of self study, but creating a ritual for writing with paper and pen is a good idea to make it a special, intentional and intimate event, rather than just another task on your “to-do” list. In other words, make writing for self understanding distinct and different from other routines and communication habits.

The more you know yourself, the more clarity there is. Self-knowledge has no end–you don’t come to an achievement, you don’t come to a conclusion. It is an endless river.”
——Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sitting still, focusing your attention on writing, and slowing down to move your hand across the page can be meditative, and thus highly beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing. As well, understanding language and consciously attending to how you use it will help you see when the words you use make you suffer and when they make you well. Language is a key part of how we relate to ourselves and the world. We ought to spend time observing how our language defines us– how what we think and say (or write) defines our experiences (or contributes to avoidance of experiences). The more you play with language and practice using it, the more insight you will gain about yourself, especially your mind. 

artistsway

I recommend reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (2016) to learn more about why daily journal writing can be so powerful for your self study and personal development because writing isn’t just for “creative types” but a way for all modern humans to articulate their uniqueness and truth.

References

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

Cameron, J. (2016). The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, 25th Anniversary Edition. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

Faber, S.K. (2016, March). Expressive Writing for Physical and Mental Health. PsychologyToday. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-mind-body-connection/201603/expressiv-writing-physical-and-mental-health 

Pennebaker, J. & Smyth, J. (2016). Opening Up by Writing it Down, Third Edition: How Expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain. New York:The Guilford Press.

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Know Thyself, Part II: Self Awareness

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

—-Daniel Goleman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Everybody Wants More Wisdom & Wellness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Building Curriculum

“It’s not about the “A” I may or may not get on this “paper” I am writing, this new life I am building. It’s about allowing the creativity to come and work its way through me, participating in the building without total control or clinging, and observing myself on the journey, noticing that I am a merely a conduit of something way bigger than I could ever conjure on my own with all my limitations. Indeed, I am only part of the story.”

Reflection on Building: Going the Distance

As I await critical feedback and help from friends who are reading my book draft It’s Not About the Grades: Landscapes for Learning Beyond Schooling, I am continuing to create professional development curricula for teachers and motivational speaking content for high school students that I hope to launch in the future. This Landscapes for Learning mission is all very slow-going which is great because the process is teaching me to practice slowing down, patience, and self-compassion. The old Field of Dreams mantra, “If you build it, they will come” is something I’ve been repeating to myself often.

I am checking myself (before I wreck myself) to see whether or not I am trying to “fill uncomfortable space” by “staying busy” with more work (just another form of distraction or avoidance) or engaging in creating from a place of love rather than fear. Awareness of my motivations and intentions is a regular practice each day to observe whether I am running away or running towards or a little of both. I am definitely uncomfortable with having let go of the draft to be read by friends and awaiting their honest response.

I am aware of my self-doubt and its accompanying anxiety, and I am taking time to be with it. I am watching myself repeat old scripts: “you aren’t totally stupid but maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are” and “why can’t you just live like a normal person and get a normal job” and “you know how much money you are losing?” and “you are being so irresponsible” and more; however, I watch these thought patterns spoken by “The Judge” come and go. They come and they go and I don’t attach. I notice. I try to notice how my body feels while these thoughts are happening. I acknowledge them, pay some attention to them but only to let them go. I don’t fight or resist their presence. They’ll be back again and again.

Awareness, discernment, and intentional response is something I’ve learned through yoga practice and personal writing. These are two healing modalities that involve self-study that have shown me that awareness is the opposite of insecurity. Shedding light on my inner landscape, although a challenging and difficult process that requires time, energy, and grit, beats floundering around helplessly ignorant on the road of darkness which usually ends up being more painful.

My manuscript took five months to complete and it isn’t even close to reader-friendly, so I anticipate it will take even longer to learn how to revise and reshape it before finally polishing it and, ultimately publishing. I’ve been through this process before, so I understand some of what lies ahead.  I’ve got to take the best possible care of myself so that my mission continues to manifest. It would be irresponsible to do otherwise if I want to “go the distance.”

Watching the process unfold for me rather than trying to control it enables me to see more clearly what part I need to play along each step of the way. Writing is total control that gives me a sense of security. But, if I resist, if I fail to let go of the control, or insist readers see my story my way rather than listening carefully to how they see it, their way, and accepting their insight, I am screwed.

Also, if I fail to see any or all of this process as my own landscape for learning, that too would be a travesty. If I treat this creation process as just a bunch of tasks to complete before I can enjoy the results or “cash in” on all the hard work sometime in the future, then I am going to miss the joy of the present moment.

It’s not about the “A” I may or may not get on this “paper” I am writing, this new life I am building. It’s about allowing the creativity to come and work its way through me, participating in the building without total control or clinging, and observing myself on the journey, noticing that I am a merely a conduit of something way bigger than I could ever conjure on my own with all my limitations. Indeed, I am only part of the story.

 

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Podcast Redux with Grace Tempany

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

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

—-Jiddu Krishnamurti

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

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

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

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

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

Visit: http://www.gracetempany.com

To Listen to Previous Podcast with Grace 

Grace Tempany Podcast #1 Below:

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Podcast: The Value of Silent Meditation with Allen Gaskell

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

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

— Blaise Pascal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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