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Honesty & Wellness

RADICAL HONESTY

This little video captures my journey from lover of stories and storytelling as an English teacher and writer to becoming a yoga teacher and psychotherapist. It encapsulates wisdom curriculum and some things I convey in both of my books, especially the

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

SELF-STUDY FOR SELF-REALIZATION IS CLASSIC WISDOM 

STOPPING TO BE WITH OURSELVES, TO KNOW OURSELVES DEEPLY AND HONESTLY, IS SIMPLE, BUT NOT EASY…

AND BECAUSE IT IS NOT EASY, WE STRUGGLE TO DO IT…

MY BOOK OFFERS SIMPLE WAYS TO BEGIN TO TRAVEL THE LANDSCAPES FOR LEARNING TO DISCOVER YOUR TRUTH TO MAXIMIZE YOUR WELLNESS AND LIVE A MEANING-FILLED LIFE

I USE SIMPLE LANGUAGE AND TOOLS YOU CAN PICK AND CHOOSE FROM AND USE ANYTIME.

I EXPLAIN WHY AND HOW TO KNOW YOURSELF FOR WELLNESS

I WROTE THE BOOK FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND PURPOSEFULLY AVOIDED USING THE TECHNICAL JARGON OF YOGA & MINDFULNESS, WOO-WOO SPIRITUALITY, ACADEMIC OR SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATIONS.

I AM HONEST ABOUT MY LIFE LEARNING IN THE BOOK AND SHARE IT WITH READERS. THAT WAS SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY FOR ME. IN FACT, IT CONJURED LOADS OF FEAR, SELF-DOUBT, AND RESISTANCE, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY I DID IT.

EXPLORE THE BLOG  PODCAST, AND LFL’S FB PAGE FOR ADDED RESOURCES AND INTERESTING INFORMATION ABOUT SELF-STUDY, SELF-REALIZATION, WISDOM, LEARNING MINDSET, EDUCATION, BIKRAM YOGA, AND WELLNESS!

 

 

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The Meaning Crisis

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!

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Simple (not easy) Practice: Walk Uphill without Complaining

This Simple (not easy) Practice is about understanding how meeting our responsibilities is an opportunity for wellness rather than something to complain about.

As much as we might complain, we all need the grind of responsibility to remain healthy, humble, happy, and purposeful. Shouldering responsibility helps us develop personal discipline, courage, and resilience, so it’s actually good for us and essential for wellness. 

Once most people get to the top or finish line, reach their goal of whatever endeavor or whatever problem they’re struggling to solve, they usually need another aim––more responsibility–– to keep them thriving. Often, people can feel lost after a graduation, winning a big race, or when they finish a career and enter retirement. Anxiety and depression can happen once the symbolic or actual mountain is summited.

So, why is it so common that people don’t know what to do with themselves or have an identity crisis at the summit? Because taking on responsibility, and facing and overcoming obstacles defines our lives as human beings. A comfort zone is only comfortable for so long before it begins to weaken us, and a life of only pleasure is not necessarily a healthy life. Do you want to be happy and fully alive only when life is pleasing and easy or all the time?

The obstacles and challenges that come along with responsibility are an expected part and parcel of the fulfillment and meaning of the journey! Engaging in this process of shouldering a load or trudging uphill is how we can get and stay strong to thrive both on the inner landscapes of our lives as well as the outer.

So, instead of dreading responsibility, avoiding the challenges that come with it, or expecting your days to be easy, practice looking at your responsibilities as opportunities, and be grateful, humble, and happy for the next mountain to climb— for the journey will keep you continually growing and feeling alive and well.

And today, try the simple (not easy) practice of changing your language from “I have to” to “I get to take on X challenge or chore,” and enjoy seeing how what you might have habitually considered dreaded tasks, to-dos, or burdens magically transform into opportunities for improved wellness, happiness, and vitality!

I get to walk my dog (uphill) in the freezing cold of New England, a daily responsibility that keeps us both fit and vital!

 

 

 

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Simple Practice: Neutral Observation

Simple Practice on the Landscapes for Learning!

Neutral Observation

For one day, or one part of one day, or one hour of one day— look at your life as your classroom, a landscape for observation and nothing more. Consciously and intentionally decide that you will commit to trying to see your experiences (within a given period of time of your choosing, brief or throughout your day) as individual opportunities to simply observe, to notice, to watch from within your interior world–– without critical or value judgment. It’s simply an exercise in mindfulness meditation; it’s to observe reality/what’s happening non-judgmentally.

Imagine the above applied to one experience with a person, perhaps someone with whom you have conflict. Perhaps today is the day where instead of reacting per usual, you simply remain neutral and observe this person. Simple (not easy) practice. This is about learning about YOURSELF not the other person.

Practice process living to “be with” or “fully in” each moment as each one unfolds.

You will have to slow waaaaay down, relax (exhale slowwwwlllyyyy), and focus on what’s happening in the moment (rather than being lost in the past or “getting ahead of yourself,” or if it’s with another person, then not thinking about what your going to say next).

TRY to be present with a neutral attitude, an attitude toward whatever happens today in your day as merely fodder for dispassionate observation, for curiosity– what happens when I just observe?

JUST NOTICE and “be with” whatever is happening.

If you feel resistance,frustration, or disappointment, joy, relaxation, or whatever– just notice these, too, as moments to “be” with, non-judgmentally! It’s all OKAY!

Simple Practice isn’t perfect. It’s PLAY.

Later, you might like to write about your experiences of trying to be the curious, nonjudgmental observer, recording and reflecting on what you learned.

 

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Simple (not easy) Practice: Rewriting Challenge

Simple (not easy) Practice: Rewriting Challenge

Today’s Simple (not easy) Practice is taken from the “Challenge Audit” in Part III: Challenge of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness. Challenge is at the heart of knowing who you are which is one reason why it is smack dab in the middle of the book. Challenge is at the heart, the crux, of self-study for self-realization!

In the “Challenge Audit,” I encourage you to slow down, to stop and reflect in writing about your challenges.  (Writing is a powerful therapeutic tool!) Most people are too busy or too afraid to stop and take stock. But, if people are in enough pain or their lives are unsatisfactory enough or completely falling apart in various ways, they may finally be more willing to slow down enough or stop long enough to take stock of the landscape (i.e. look at what the hell is going on) of their life and the things that are causing such pain and dissatisfaction. Those things may be external, internal, or both, and it takes honesty and study to discern the truth.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you hit rock bottom to start paying attention to your challenges–– you can practice surveying the landscape of your life regularly, as a habit built into your moments of your days, through practices like this one, journaling, meditation , yoga or however else you can be quiet, introspective, and breathe easy. Introspection and reflection are always available as tools for wellness, but for many they, too, are challenges. Sometimes when we are searching frantically for answers or to calm down, we miss the solution, literally, right under our nose.

There are several writing prompts listed in the “Challenge Audit,” but here’s a few for today’s Simple (not easy) Practice:

“Specify and categorize your challenges using the List of Common Human Challenges categories. Merely listing or writing about them (however poorly) may be a step forward in facing them, understanding them more clearly by using specific language to define them, and creating a plan to cope with them.”

“Can you define your challenges as problems to suffer with or as opportunities to define yourself and grow–– to become more alive? In other words, what’s your mindset when it comes to your challenges?”

“Can you rewrite one or some of your challenges as opportunities for learning?”

(This is playing with the very notion of challenge, how you perceive and define it, how you relate to it, feel about it, and behave toward it.)

Try writing about how a/some/all of your challenges contribute to your personal wholeness (i.e. the ‘whole of you’ as a human person).

Notice the way you look at things….

Notice the language you use when writing about challenge…

There’s no wrong way to answer these prompts or to write about them or to think about them. They are meant to get you to pay attention to yourself, reflect on the notion of challenge and your personal challenges, and to notice and learn, a little bit at a time. The more you learn about your challenges and the role they play in how you construct your world (inner– how you see and relate to yourself, and outer–they way you see and relate to “what happens” out there), the more wisdom you’ll acquire for your wellness.

Rather than relating to this as a task to accomplish or as finding the answer to your challenges or to making pain disappear, try to relate to it as a process. Focus less on outcomes and more on experiencing the process of learning.

PODCAST #18 ON CHALLENGE

PODCAST #17 ON OPPORTUNITY MINDSET

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A Video Message from LFL!

LFL’s Simple Practices: Listening

So Simple. So Powerful. So Healthy.

Make time to PRACTICE listening!

NEW FEATURE: Simple Practices on the Landscape for Learning for Wisdom & Wellness

SUBSCRIBE BELOW FOR SIMPLE PRACTICES FROM LFL

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018: Podcast on CHALLENGE

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

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

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

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Podcast 17: LEARNING as OPPORTUNITY MINDSET

In this podcast, I read Part V: LEARNING from

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

The podcast includes subtopics like:

*Vulnerability as intrinsic to learning process and creating meaning

*Parenting without safe-space or victim mentality

*Schooling discourages failure and uniqueness

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

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

 

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

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Opportunity Mindset = Meaning & Wellness

Q. What is Landscapes for Learning?

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

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

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

Just like Will in Goodwill Hunting,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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How and Why Self-Study, Podcast #16

Landscapes for Learning is podcasting again!

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

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

MY UPDATED LIVING WELL CHECK LIST 2018-2019

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

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

Have a listen for an informative hour to

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

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

 

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

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Connection Begins with Self-Study

“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self” —-the Bhagavad Gita

 

 

When you observe your self— your own life— to see where and how your attention and energy is being directed (or not), you may notice it’s either stolen, spent properly, conserved, or regularly replenished etc… You can assess the situation on your inner landscape, and make some choices: continue with what’s healthy and utilizing your assets; take responsibility for what’s not healthy and figure out how make change (rather than blaming, projecting, and staying stuck in your “comfort zone” or “safe space” ) and start to learn about the possibilities of becoming, instead of staying stuck in a fixed “static” identity. Pay attention to yourself; Listen within (to your gut, as Gabor Mate discusses) learn, and eventually, find that you are love—this is reconnection to self and it is how you recover trust within you. The more you can connect with your own sense of self and begin to trust yourself, your relationship with your self transforms, and relationships with others transform (some may wither and end because they need to, some may blossom more fully as they should).

My book, Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness (Amazon,2019) provides you with ideas to consider and practices/tools to begin your travels on your inner landscape for wellness.

Attending to yourself is a choice and your responsibility. No excuses.

Namaste.

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October Workshop!

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

Come Learn About

Self-Study for Self-Realization

at

Bikram Yoga Danvers

October 19th, 2019

Noon-1:00 p.m.

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

Hosted by

Landscapes for Learning, LLC

 

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Balance!

WHAT DO WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF? 

SPEED, CLUTTER, NOISE, INFORMATION & “EXPERTS”

WHAT DO WE LACK?

SLOWING DOWN & STILLNESS, INTROSPECTION & REFLECTION

WHAT DO WE HAVE TOO MUCH OF ?

KNOWLEDGE OF THE EXTERNAL LANDSCAPE; EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION

WHAT DO WE LACK ?

KNOWLEDGE OF THE INTERNAL; INTERNAL MOTIVATION & INSPIRATION 

 

WHAT TO DO for BALANCE ? 

Empower Individuals with Wisdom for Wellness

Visit Amazon.com for a copy of the

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

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

 

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Limits & Possibilities

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!)

Warning:

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.

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

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

— Jiddu Krishnamurti

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

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

Self-Directed Learning 

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

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

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

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

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Yoga is Union

“You don’t know who you are!”

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

Self Image or Truth?

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

Values & Wellness

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

Time on Learning

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

Wholeness

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

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

It’s Not About the Grades

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

Yoga is Union: Antidote to Disconnection

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

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

Classic Wisdom for Modern Humans: “Know Thyself”

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

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

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

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

Be Your Own Guru

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

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

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

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

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

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A Bikram Yoga Teacher’s Tools for Wellness

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Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness contains a few tools and practices for knowing your mind and body better, so you can connect with your interior world to love yourself and love others. That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell.

Bottom Line? The world will be well if each of us are well.

A 5-Part Guide for Wellness

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Wellness that comes from authenticity— of being the real you– takes attention, self awareness, grit, mindful choice, and a willingness to learn. These are the five parts of the Self Study Guide.

Self Realization

Answering, Who am I? is a lifetime process; it is a journey with no final destination. The Self Study Guide gives you several tools and practices for this journey to self realization, one of which is Bikram Yoga.

Breaking External Dependency

Bikram Yoga helped me realize that caring for my body is essential for a healthy mind and vice versa. I learned about how my very busy thinking mind has everything to do with how I feel, my stress levels, and my mood. I learned with consistent practice how an open-eyed 90 minute moving meditation is superior to my formal education, self help reading, and the various forms of dependence on things outside of myself I had unconsciously relied on for my wellness through my life. Bikram Yoga taught me that the key to wellness is self realization– an entirely interior process.

“To Thine Own Self Be True”
–William Shakespeare

I share my learning experiences in this Self StudyGuide to invite others to learn not about me or Bikram Yoga per se, but more about what it means to be a human person— and most important, to inspire and motivate you to find out what it means to be the real, authentic you. Self study for self realization is about honesty. It is that simple, but definitely not very easy.

Healing Modalities

My personal tools for wisdom and wellness are Bikram Yoga practice and daily journal writing, both of which work as therapeutic modalities. Both practices have led me to deeper, more conscious awareness; more humility; more openness to experience (flexibility); more love and compassion for myself and others; and more balance in my daily life. Neither has led me to perfection nor financial windfall, but I will admit that I am far more honest with myself and others, and I believe this is why I am healthy and happy.

Once you learn to confront “what is” without trying to push it away (aversion) or grip it too tightly (clinging), you understand more and more about the nature of your own suffering. If you can learn to stay in the space of experience, without judgment or reactivity, then you may be able to create more mindful responses to whatever life brings. You’ll likely appreciate the freedom such meditation brings. Can you say, game changer?

Wellness for Modern Humans

I’ve created this Self Study Guide for readers to learn more about one’s own unique, specific human nature through deliberate self study, as I have found this to be the foundation for a high quality life of meaning and purpose, especially in our modern world of rapid change. To “know thyself” is classic wisdom, so self study for self realization is critical for living well within a modern world full of information, distraction, noise, and unwellness stemming mostly from cultural values that don’t foster vitality. That is why throughout each part of the Self Study Guide I write about why and how each of the five parts of the self study wheel matters for both personal and social wellness. My work in the Self Study Guide also adds to what many others already understand about the state of unwellness in our modern world and are trying to address with their wonderful work. You will notice their influence throughout the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self Study Guide for Wellness.

I also wrote the Self Study Guide as an answer to the people who continually ask me to explain the connection between my Bikram yoga series practice and my “life outside the studio” which includes my level of vitality, physical and psychological transformation, and the resulting wellness and happiness from such ongoing growth.

Practical Tools for Wellness

In the past, I have written about my passion for yoga and about my passion for writing as ways of expressing who I am on my blog, but I wanted to give readers something tangible, some practical tools they could have and use for themselves, in their own personal way, for their own personal development, beyond just reading an inspiring or motivating testimonial. As well, I am always inviting people I meet to the studio to try a hot yoga class, but many are intimidated by the perceptions of what Bikram Hot Yoga is, the negativity surrounding its founder, and the presumed vanity associated with looking at oneself in a mirror with little clothing on for ninety minutes each day.

It is difficult to explain how looking at yourself in a mirror and stretching in a hot room leads to self realization in a few minutes of casual conversation. Hence— this Self Study Guide.

Appearance vs Reality

I hope this Self StudyGuide offers a bit of insight about how it is that so many Bikram yogis have been so utterly transformed (inside and out) despite Bikram Choudhury’s reputation, the criticism of our strict Dialogue method of instruction, and all of his and the yoga’s perceived flaws and controversy. I hope it helps people understand what profusely sweating in 105/40 heated room half naked with strangers (who become friends bound by compassion) is more than what it seems.

There is more to Bikram Yoga than meets the eye, so many more positives than people know or talk about beyond our Bikram Community. Perhaps more information to educate more people is due. And, of course, I’d like to invite more people to come try the practice by informing them about the personal development that may be possible for them by beginning, like I did, an ignorant but semi-willing, slightly open-minded person looking to try a physical, body-based yoga practice as a form of exercise.

Surface vs. Deep Learning

I started looking in the mirror during my early practice out of vanity, a desire to achieve, and as a performance because that was my previous, socially- conditioned, conventional mindset. The challenge of the workout drew me in, (I wanted to conquer it, not let it beat me), the practice itself magically got me to stay for reasons I could not explain, then to become a teacher to share my love for the practice, and then to write this Guide to spread that love further beyond just my local studio. Loads of other Bikram yogis have their stories of self realization too.

But if you want a spiritual treatise, this Self Study Guide is not that book. I am mute when it comes to enlightenment or theology or the soul. There are books about the limbs of yoga. There are books about yoga as medicine. I can only report in my Self Study Guide about the tools and practices I use to find out more about who I really am, my truth, with the hope that they benefit you to know yourself and express your uniqueness for a meaningful life of purpose and wellness.

Pay it Forward

Bikram Yoga was a gift of fate I was lucky enough to receive. I didn’t seek it; it found me, so I’m hoping this little book pays my gift forward by finding its way to you– to more people who don’t know Bikram Yoga exists or to people who thought they understood it (and themselves), but do not. In that sense, I hope it promotes more learning and thus, awakening. Perhaps when combining Bikram Yoga practice with other self study techniques I have included in the Self Study Guide like introspection, meditation, self-audits, and daily journal writing, readers can transform their lives for more wisdom and wellness as I and so many others have and continue to do.

Head to your local studio and try a few original, hot, 90-minute Bikram Yoga classes. And if it helps, read the Classic Wisdom for Modern Humans: A Self Study Guide to Wellness for additional tools useful for engaging in the process of self realization!

*Subscribe below if you are interested in receiving updates about workshops and other events, plus resources, practices, and tools in the Classic Wisdom for Modern Humans: A Self Study Guide to Wellness.

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Why Know Thyself? Why Now?

A prescription for personal wellness in our ultra busy, information-laden modern world is what great sages have recommended since ancient times: “know thyself.” To learn about human nature and one’s own specific, individual nature through deliberate self study is the foundation for a high quality life of meaning and purpose. But we rarely take time to do it, or we don’t know where to start, or we don’t exactly know how to go about knowing ourselves. Landscapes for Learning can help!

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is a pragmatic tool for discovering one’s true identity through deliberate self examination. The Guide is a simple, five-part, process-oriented program specifically designed to promote deep, authentic learning about oneself for wellness throughout one’s life.

It combines resources, tools, and practices for reflection and introspection– a self-discovery program and kind of humanities curriculum created to promote wellness and wholeness for modern people. It has been designed to inspire and continually motivate people to deliberately develop their ‘human literacies’ to self-realize and self-actualize for optimal health and vitality.

It is a mistake to assume that we already know how to be our best and most complete human selves; perhaps we knew who we were once, in our innocence, but have forgotten. But if we are willing to travel inward and engage in honest, compassionate practice we can rediscover our authenticity, our truest nature.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide will be available to you for free over the next many days, weeks, and months ahead right here in this blog, so SUBSCRIBE below to get started on the journey of self study to become your best, most authentic and unique self!



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95 Thousand Words

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

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

Perfectly Imperfect

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

No Answers

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

Another Kind of Currency

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

Weirdness and Woo-Woo

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

Lost & Found

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

Process & Product?

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

Let it Be & Be Led

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

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Self Realization

Over the past couple of years, I have written about everything I have directly experienced in my own life as well as the wisdom I have received from great mentors both ancient and modern, from East and West, about the interesting process of self realization, self actualization, and wellness.

Much of my personal evolution has come from direct experience practicing Bikram Yoga. When I discovered Bikram Yoga, or shall I say when it found me, I found the existentialism, spiritualism, mysticism, and theories about consciousness and the unconscious I had studied in one form or another in my formal education, what I had only ever experienced intellectually, embodied in a wholly physical experience.

I became far more aware of who I am and what it means to be human in a 90 minute heated yoga class. I fell into self realization by accident. I discovered my true self (in distinct contrast to the social roles I’d been conditioned to adopt and adhere to for a sense of belonging, approval, and currency– that is– who I thought I was). I became aware of awareness, the conscious witness, the observer of my “small” self, by chance, and without expectation, and without complicated academic preparation and study. I know exactly where my mat was in the room when I experienced more awareness and insight. It was not intellectual. Lucky me.

I continue to look in the mirror each day and face my suffering only to be with it, and for no other reason. That is a process. There’s no product, no goal, no achievement, no desire for a better waistline. The mirror is not about vanity, and I am not looking for answers. It’s a simple process, though not easy. It’s become my meditation, my inward bound journey to freedom.

So, I figure, why not share my experience of transformation through Bikram yoga in order to invite others to stumble into more conscious awareness of their truth too? Pay it forward. It is likely that Bikram Yoga, since it is less esoteric, makes self realization more accessible, as it is far more realistic for everyday Westerners to drop by a local studio to practice each day than it is for them to sojourn to India or do a 500 day silent meditation retreat or something stereotypically more “spiritually rigorous.” You don’t have to perform the rituals of a priest or monk to know who you really are. No, you can “be free where you are,” as Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hahn says, no matter who or where you are. The path to freedom is within the inner landscape, not on the outer one with specific conditions meant for your transformation.

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Know Thyself, Part V: Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more wisdom means more wellness.

References:

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

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Know Thyself, Part IV: Choice

Your Choices Define You.

The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide will help you learn to manage your attention, become more self-aware, and develop resilience in the face of challenge, so you’ll inevitably make better, more mindful choices from a central locus of control.

More self knowledge from self study will help you learn to respond to reality in the present moment, mindfully, rather than reacting irrationally or unconsciously.

“It is not external events themselves that cause us distress, but the way in which we think about them. It is our attitudes and reactions that give us trouble. We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.”

–Epictetus

When you are more aware of the way you behave under pressure, understand your habits, and know your strengths, weaknesses and triggers from working your way through the Self Study Guide, you’ll be able to make better decisions and choices from a central locus of control.

Rather than trying to manipulate the world and your experiences to be as you’d prefer, you’ll learn to accept what happens that is beyond your control and respond mindfully in the best way possible for your personal growth and wellness.

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”

—Friedrich Nietzsche

As you work your way through the Self Study Guide, you will become more centered and more grounded in the truth of who you are because you will discover your values, that is— what you’re aiming your attention and effort at. When you know what you focus on that is good for you and that matters most, you can choose more of what’s good for you and what is in line with your healthiest values.  Your choices will be informed.

Are you Responding Rationally or Mindlessly Reacting?

Reactivity that creates additional suffering is not worth compromising your wellness. Instead, you can make better and more deliberate choices, cultivated through direct experience, introspection, and reflection– practices you can find throughout the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide.

With honest practice and self-compassion, you can learn to accept  insecurity and vulnerability as part of being human. You can figure out how to “let go” more quickly of your internal resistance as well as your reactive, negative habits rooted in fear and cause “bad” stress in your body.

For example, when that person cuts you off in traffic, you’ll choose not to react irrationally toward the offender in order to keep your stress-levels in check to keep yourself well.

Instinctively reacting to the danger of potential physical harm is built in to human beings, of course, but the extra mental suffering that comes from the anger you decide to hang on to or project onto others will wreak havoc on your body unnecessarily. That sort of stress and suffering is a choice. Unnecessary struggle and suffering is preventable. By tapping into the higher levels of attention to your values and the self-awareness you’ve gained in Parts I and II of the Self Study Guide, you’ll be empowered with self knowledge for more self control which means better, more mindful choices for your wellness.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

Because you will learn throughout your own self study process that your flawed thinking patterns, projection, and irrationality is common human behavior, you’ll be far less likely to take things personally or reactively blame others for behaving in the ways that you can recognize in yourself and in all other human beings. Your honest self study of your own nature will teach you empathy and compassion for others who also act as human, thus flawed, struggling along and suffering just like you.

It is true that when you know better, you can choose better, but when you know who you are, nobody and nothing can steal your peace— at least not without your conscious consent.


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2018 In Hindsight

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.

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Know Thyself, Part III: Challenge

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

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

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

—Jiddu Krishnamurti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

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

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

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Know Thyself, Part II: Self Awareness

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

—-Daniel Goleman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Know Thyself, Part I: Study Your Attention

Attention

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”

–Jose Ortega y Gasset

 The Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide is about disconnecting from the competing stimuli in your outer world to reconnect to your inner world. It’s about the fear of missing “in” rather than the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Paying attention to yourself and learning about what makes you, you will not be quick nor easy because it includes spending time alone, quietly, and reflectively which many people find intimidating or downright scary to consider.

For many others, attention to oneself is simply not a priority,  what with so many other interesting things that capture our attention outside of ourselves and how busy we like to be (usually to stave off anxiety and boredom).

“To be that self which one truly is”

–Soren Kierkegaard

Learning about oneself through focused attention inward is also challenging because it requires honesty and courage to accept unpleasant or uncomfortable discoveries, though one may also find  answers that free one from suffering and pain.

Many of our unhealthy habits are deeply ingrained, and important truths are buried without our conscious awareness, which is why Part I of Landscapes for Learning’s Classic Wisdom for the Modern Self Study Guide is about paying attention to attention.  Learning about the nature of attention and one’s own attention to better understand and manage it will bring optimal personal growth and wellness.

Paying Attention is Self-Defense

It’s downright frightening that artificial intelligence can control your attention: where you look, what you look at, and manipulate your perceptions and feelings about what you’re paying attention to, to nudge you in particular directions while fooling you that you made your own choice– if you allow it.

How can you make sure that you can choose who influences you?

What’s your best defense?

Begin with Part I of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide and learn how to examine your own attention to understand its value and thereby what you value which is what matters most in your life. Get offline, get with yourself, and study your human nature.

Values

When you understand the nature of attention and learn about your own you attention, you become more consciously aware of exactly what it is you are aiming at, focused on, believe in, and live by.

Attention is linked to your values, thereby directly linked to your priorities, goals, actions, and habits. When you own your attention consciously, you can take responsibility for it and better manage and control it for more wellness.

When you get to know yourself better from self study, inside and out, you will gain deeper understanding of your nature, becoming more likely to trust your own judgment, rather than helplessly relying on others, developing unhealthy and excessive external dependencies, or allowing yourself to become a victim of manipulation.

Learning more about your attention by paying attention to attention in Part I of the Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human Self Study Guide will empower you to know who you are to be wise and well.

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Adventures in Learning Familiar & Foreign

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.

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Everybody Wants More Wisdom & Wellness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Learning on the Inner Landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Self Study: The Beginning of All Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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