Lessons to Glean from your Inner Teacher

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As an educator for nearly forty years, and always a student as well, I have had many opportunities to learn from my inner TEACHER Archetype Ally, also from my ‘outer’ teachers, and from both inner and outer Spiritual Guides I have discovered and welcome within my ever developing consciousness. Teaching is a way of life dedicated to serving All Life and to stimulating progressive unfoldment toward manifesting personal ideals and values, or indeed, ‘better endings.’

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Some of my own lessons gleaned from the PRACTICE of Teaching include:

Flexibility: This is the greatest tool I feel that a Teacher will demonstrate often.  Whatever the lesson plan might be, you must meet the student aspirants where they are at. Every student and every class has their own character and begins at their own level based on their prior experience and goals. What worked once before with teaching a lesson or a topic might not fit the needs of the current student or class, so you must respond with a new approach, tailored to the interests and needs of the individual as well as the group. Generationally these needs change and develop over time, so as you continue to teach, you must become ever more flexible too.

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Listening: Empathy is a strong Teacher trait that develops from the skill of listening closely to the questions—and attending to responses or actions—of your individual student. Why does a student choose their specific research topic; what is it they are hoping therefrom to learn or to discover? Why does a student resist a given lesson? Is their personal background experience leading them to assert a certain approach? How can you ALLOW that which the student is there to learn of their own character? You are in this sense but a willing servant the student has chosen tohelp them take their next steps in understanding, inspiration, or self-discipline. Reveal to them the tools they can use to take their own next step forward.

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Goal-setting: Education is a progressive process of setting out to experience ever-new vistas and horizons. Whatever we learn fertilizes the grounds for further learning in a never-ending adventure. The Teacher helps the aspirant to establish their own aspirations and to attain realizations of their goals, of any form. Whether the Goal is one of DOing, KNOWing, or BEing, the Teacher serves as a positive example of one who shows there is always a Way to manifest worthy goals.

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 Creativity: Whatever the topic of study or art, the Teacher fosters creativity, not simply sterile methods or rote repetition of facts or ideas. Ultimately the Teacher must stand back to facilitate the student’s own inner Teacher potentials. For when the class is over and the student has graduated, the student must have gained their own capacity to proceed forth to successfully encounter new challenges and opportunities on their own.  In fostering creative abilities in the student, the Teacher also shows their own willingness to learn; to encourage the student to become the Teacher, and so Life itself continues to unfold and adapt.

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What have YOU learned from developing your own archetypal Teacher traits? How do you share this with others in your life? The outer Teacher—while genuinely someone who has developed the knowledge and skills you aim to comprehend and use—is also in a sense but a projection of your own inner Teacher potentials, so that learning is as standing before a Mirror to perceive and unfold your own inherent, latent qualities, especially when you seek to learn from a well advanced instructor or Guide.  

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images from pixabay.com

Authentic teaching/learning is self-tailored; the Teacher becomes a transparency through which you find your own Way. While this may seem to characterize especially those spiritual forms of Teacher you might aim to emulate, every Teacher is THE Teacher, the Teacher in YOU, too.  And so the true TEACHER demonstrates detachment and humility, knowing in the end it is YOUR process you seek to advance, YOUR lessons that the Teacher is charged to help you to teach yourself in such manner as you can unfold the knowledge and  the capacity to proceed forward on your own and share with others.

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I welcome YOUR reflections and stories!

 

Life Path Stories

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“What, to you, are the typical stages or phases — if any — of a normal human lifetime, whether or not they are typical of yours?”

When you review your response to this week’s prompt (above), what is your “go to” Life Course Schema—Is it mainly Linear, Cyclic, or Seamless? More importantly, in what ways might this model influence your perception of life events or your decisions and behavior, either with regard to your own life, or others? Allow me to share a few stories from some life mappers today.

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When I began studying Life Paths by conducting interview research, I placed an ad in a local paper that simply stated: “Mid-life Crisis?” followed by my contact information. I interviewed eleven people who responded to that ad. Each of them expressed a LINEAR Life Course Schema.  John, for example, had lost a series of jobs to downsizing in the airline industry. He felt debilitated because he had trained for that career and felt, in his early 40’s, that his career was a failure. This is so common that people who believe in a LINEAR stage model of life may have difficulty dealing with change, which may feel like a disruption of the one-education, one-career, one-relationship life progression they hope or might have grown up expecting to maintain. That is why a LINEAR model is less appropriate or a bit dicey, at least, in today’s world of flux. We need a flexible model that allows for change and adaptation.

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I found in my interviews  that people who had experienced an early family disruption like their parents’ divorce or a natural disaster often adapted by developing a CYCLIC Life Course Schema instead of a LINEAR one. Sandi, for example, who has been a globe trotter most of her adventuresome life, said she feels she has been living several lifetimes in this one; and she means that literally, as she holds a strong belief in reincarnation. Hers is a CYCLIC adaptation that allows for a great deal of creativity and flexibility.

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Then there was Esther, also a person who has lived in several countries in her life. Her big move from a Nordic country as a child to the US for an athletic opportunity and then to marry and raise her family in the US was possible because her philosophy of life—her SEAMLESS Life Course Schema—allowed her to take major leaps when the opportunities arose. Esther described life as like a chain with links that form unpredictably; they fit together in retrospect but until a new experience ‘happens,’ you won’t really know what is around the bend, and this is good.  Esther eschews setting goals; she much prefers to welcome change and the rich opportunities they manifest in her life.

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   One note: You might find that you hold one Life Course Schema with respect to one ‘angle’ of your life experience and another for a different dimension of your life. You might then be able to “borrow” from one side (read, archetypal orientation or role perspective) to aid another side of you to help make a decision or deal with a change. Please put this idea on the back burner for now; it will resurface when we talk in two weeks about your recurring Life Themes, and then later, when I invite you to Meet & Greet your own ‘ensemble cast of mythic archetypal characters”!

I welcome all of your insights and stories!

(Dear fellow bloggers, Tweeters and readers: I am traveling for the next 18 days. I will continue to put up posts but it might take longer than usual to respond to your cherished and welcome comments. – Linda)

Is (Your) Life a Spiral, a Line, or an Ellipsis?

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A majority of adults in Western countries have been conditioned to think of “a life course” in terms of a LINEAR model. This stems from several psychological theories of ‘developmental stages’ which our parents grew up with and passed on to their children. Erik Erikson, in Childhood and Society (1950) proposed the most widely accepted Linear Stage model of eight ‘psychosocial stages’ that he believed was universal, for all people everywhere; a biologically and socially normal series of stages we must all pass through.  Infancy, Early Childhood, Play Age, School Age, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Adulthood, Old Age: Does this sound familiar and seem “right”? (Earlier Western models were also mainly LINEAR; like Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage…with seven stages”; even so far back as in the Medieval Ages there were 5, 7, or 11 stage-models that were considered normative).

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Erikson said that during each of the eight ‘maturational’ stages he identified in 1950 we have a challenge to meet; for example, Productivity in Adulthood, or a search for Identity in Adolescence.  But this LINEAR Life Course Schema also sets up a one-directional, gradual, “progressive” Life Path. If a person gets married but later divorces, or gets a job but then loses it, then this LINEAR model registers these life changes as disruptions of the one education–one marriage/family–one career trajectory it sets up as the goal for a “successful” life. All of the people who told me in my life mapping interview studies that they were experiencing or had experienced a “MID-LIFE CRISIS” expressed a LINEAR model similar to Erikson’s.

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Did you express a CYCLIC model with this week’s Life Mapping Tool (see right panel) instead of a LINEAR one? Do you tend to think of life in terms of 7 or 10 or 12 (or other) -year cycles? How does this help you or influence you? Several contemporary life course theorists—e.g. Fredric Hudson and Mary Catherine Bateson/ including me, based on my life mapping research—find that a CYCLIC model often helps people to adjust to life’s changes with greater flexibility and creativity. When one loses a job or a relationship, which is so common in our “post-modern” lives, a CYCLIC Life Course Schema can help a person to think of this life change as an opportunity to “start over” rather than as a disaster.

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Or perhaps instead of either a LINEAR or a CYCLIC model, you might think of life as not necessarily structured at all, without any fixed or predictable stages or cyclic phases? If so, you are not alone! A SEAMLESS model is a fairly frequent contemporary Life Course Schema that co-exists in our postmodern cultural reality alongside LINEAR and CYCLIC models. I found that people expressing a SEAMLESS model tend not to like to set too many ‘fixed’ goals in their lives; they like being surprised and want to see where things go instead of limiting themselves. At the same time I also found that people with Life Metaphors (see last week) like “Life is a Flash in the Pan” or “A Mere Sliver of Time”—guess what?—tend to also express a SEAMLESS Life Course Schema. Maybe that’s because they feel more like they are living “in the Moment”? I wonder.

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Anyway, the Life Course Schema you hold may impose profound influences on how you set your goals, make your choices, and respond to life changes.  Can you change a Life Course Schema if you don’t like how it is affecting you? Yes, you can!  You can create a new Cycle, add a new link in a chain of events, or, at least, lengthen the span of time you associate with a ‘stage’.  How? I invite you to journal, contemplate, or talk with your loved ones and friends about this. Of course, you are always welcome to share your insights, questions, and your stories here! Check in Friday for some stories I will share from some other life mappers’ experiences.

Flexibility for Mastery of Better Endings

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Life Metaphors  are a variety of “core metaphors” that reflect “idealized cognitive models” (ICM’s), according to anthropological linguists George Lakoff and Paul Johnson in their groundbreaking book, Metaphors We Live By. Such core metaphors govern our conceptions about whole domains of experience by having multiple metaphoric entailments. My example yesterday of Life as a Carousel or Merry-Go-Round shows this well. Life has Its Ups and Downs; It goes Round and Round; we may find ourselves reaching for “the Brass Ring”. Yet, of course, all of this is imaginary, or…well, embedded in our cognitive mindset. Because of the all-encompassing nature of the conceptual model that a key metaphor creates, reality itself is mapped onto our ICM of It, and we become somewhat bound to our model, or, schematic cognitive mindset.

This week’s general topic is about transforming self-limiting beliefs and personal myths into Bettter Endings scenarios. Merry-Go-Round horses leaping from their platforms overnight changes the Life Metaphor of Life as a Carousel by adding a new dimension of FLEXIBILITY into the model. As another first principle for creating Better Endings,then, flexibility is on the top shelf of our toolbox!

Flexibility incorporates lots of Better Endings principles in itself, doesn’t it? Creativity, Acceptance, Adaptability, Mindfulness; all of these are activated in a genuinely flexible thought or action. Flexibility involves a willingness to bend and to adjust, so it is helpful and often necessary for transforming self-limiting attitudes, beliefs or behavior.

I am reminded of two poetic images, both penned by Robert Frost.

The first, on “Acceptance“:

Ah, when to the heart of man,

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things,

To bend with a grace to reason

and bow and accept the end of a love or a season?

 

             The second, from Frost’s “Birches”:

When I see birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

Mandi’s Guest (Re-)Blog on Thursday shares her “life secret” of Letting Go. This is part and parcel of flexibility, to RELEASE. Robert Frost’s image of birch boughs laden with ice and snow in winter and then winging back to the sky and freedom–though forever arched by the experience–evokes the suppleness and fresh vitality needed for, or perhaps resulting from, a shift of attitude: from holding on, to letting go and ALLOWING a new way come into Being.

Sometimes I think this is much of what the effects of physical aging are about: what we hold onto and then, eventually, what we are able to release. My mother who is 86 with Parkinson’s has had to release so much already (her mobility, most household possessions, solid food) and, over time, she will release the rest of her burdens from this life–and her loves–so she can move on to the next cycle of death and rebirth; however your belief system frames that. (By the way, I highly recommend reading Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven if you are struggling with a loved one’s or your own physical mortality.)

A spiritual author I regard highly, Harold Klemp, in How to Survive Spiritually in Our Timessays that one’s “degree of acceptance” determines one’s level or state of consciousness. What are you willing to Accept means, how flexible are you; how far are you willing to bend and what can you let go of to allow a Better Ending? I agree with Mandi that  this is what it takes to transform our lives or habits, from rigid to supple, from stubborn to wiser; bringing well-being and a fresh, vital, childlike perspective into our daily actions and choices. Flexibility allows us to transform self-limiting beliefs or fixed models so we can follow through on our most conscious, mindful decisions.

Flexibility is the essence of our willingness to grow, to learn, to unfold in greater freedom rather than being pinned down by the accretion of rigid thoughts or withered attitudes. And so, flexibility empowers us to transform self-limiting mindsets into life affirming gestures of allowing ourselves and others to grow, to explore, and to achieve the life of our and their dreams.

What is it that you would love to be doing, if you could release self-limiting concepts? Allow yourself to be all that you care to be, to do all that you mindfully dare to do, to become all that you ARE!

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