Search This Blog

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Oh Vancouver!

How do I love thee....let me count the ways.

Each and every time I come to this beautiful city I ask myself the same question - Why am I not living here?!
Although I find Vancouver, as a whole, a bit conservative - I love that life is so active and healthy here. Obesity is extremly rare to see and the vibrancy in the faces of Vancouverites is absolutely contagious. There's beautiful, fit, healthy people everywhere, amazing restaurants, fantastic night life, the mountains, the ocean, and sooo much to see and do.

On my quest this year for an extraordinary experience of my life and as I search for ways to recreate my vision for my life, I decided to take part in something called The Landmark Forum. This is a 3 day workshop that's taught all over the world and has been highly recommended to me by several people I know. Although I could never really get a straight answer about what Landmark was all about, I've seen amazing transformations and heard remarkable stories about how this program can and will change your life. As someone who's done A LOT of searching, a lot of transformational courses and workshops and endless hours of study in the healing arts of self discovery and awareness, I have to admit I was skeptical. Very skeptical. But anything that promises to "free you up" from the constraints of your past and encourages a positive new view of yourself and your life sounds intriguing to me. It really can't hurt, right?

So I spent this weekend in downtown Vancouver with 125 other participants learning all about what the Landmark Forum has to offer. At first I was excited to meet so many remarkable people. I mean, some of the stories that were shared this weekend really opened my eyes, touched my heart and helped me see my own life through different eyes. And the presenter - Jan McHenry, an ex Marine, was very dynamic and engaging. He definitely got my attention and knew how to keep it. The first couple days was all about learning that, no matter what, human beings always seek to be "right". We each have our views on life and on the world and we go through life proving our "rightness" about our views. Interestingly, Mr McHenry explained how each of us will continually attract and create situations that repeatedly prove that we are "right". And that whatever view we hold about people, or life's circumstances, will always be proved right. Because we will continually seek out validation to keep ourselves right. That means that whatever your view is - is exactly what you will continue to experience over and over again. Whether that view is positive or negative. In fact we will build up whole stories to support our views. Many of which are in fact exactly that - just stories. Illusions that we build up in our minds. The fact is - if these stories were Reality - everyone would be experiencing the same things. But we're not. We're all experiencing our own Views. And because we will always seek to be "right", we will surround ourselves with people who make us "right". The problem with that is that nothing ever changes. Negative cycles repeat over and over.

Then we learned about "rackets". A racket is basically a fixed opinion or idea that usually involves a negative judgement towards something or someone. So we go through life holding onto these rackets and continually attracting experiences that prove those opinions right. Huh. Ok. So - this was interesting to me because I could see, in my own life, how many rackets I've held on to and that no matter what I've tried to do to fix, heal, or change certain situations, they haven't worked. Simply because my view wasn't changing.

So - I feel like I've learned a lot. Sort of. I mean I definitely examined a lot. To the point where I kinda got a headache actually from all the thinking.

I mean, I certainly had a few moments of clarity regarding some of my past relationships and some of my beliefs that have prevented things from changing. The Forum is set up to give you a really good look and a detached perspective of your life. The 13 hr days, the endless sitting, the uncomfortable "sharing" with complete strangers was hard for me at first. I always take the seat at the very back of the room, really in an effort to avoid such things. I'm definitly a back-of-the-bus kinda gal. I have absolutely no need to stand up in front of everyone and talk about my "stories".

But I really didn't learn anything that I didn't already know. I guess the real question is - now what? I get the ideas/views that I've been holding on to, I get the whole thing about "running rackets" on the people in my llife, I get it. But what do I do with it now?? I mean, you can pick apart your past until the cows come home. But how do you actually create change? I was quite frustrated by the end of the program when they said the whole Landmark philosophy was this: Life is Empty and Meaningless. I was like - wtf does that mean!? I see that they are trying to say that there is no "purpose" or "meaning" to find in life, it's all about your own viewpoint and what you choose to create. Ok. But, again, how?

The Landmark Forum seems to think that their philosophy and all their courses are the way to create that change. I have to admit the constant hard sell tactics of it's presenters was a bit annoying. If the Forum was as powerful as they claim it to be, why the constant pushing and forcing and "convincing" about how great it is. And the constant annoying tactics trying to get you to sign up for more and more courses. If I had $1 for every time they tried to get us to commit to signing up our friends and recruiting our family, I'd have paid for the course 4 times over. It's an unfortunate turnoff that really deters one from relaxing and getting results from the experience.When I approached some of the Forum leaders with my confusion and concerns about how to apply all this in my life - instead of answering me or helping me out, they simply gave me a refund. Um, ok. While that was fantastic costumer service, what I really want is just to "get it". So - I will keep plugging on and one day I'd like to actually figure it out.

One thing is certain - an extraordinary life is only as extraordinary as the person living it. And their Views.
We're all searching for the same things ultimately.

So -from what I learned this weekend, I guess it's all a matter of letting go of your negative fixed beliefs about the people/circumstances in your life and holding the view of those people and things that you wish to experience. That way, you actually create each relationship, each situation as you'd like it to be. One thing that struck me powerfully is when Mr McHenry talked about his wife and the view of her that he holds of her as an extraordinary human being. That way, he actually creates her as such each and every day that they are together. I thought that was beautiful and powerful. And, truthfully, a great practice. Imagine that - you holding the view of the people in your life being amazing, lovely, wonderful, remarkable people who support only the best in you. Imagine if that was your View - how different thigs would be.


  1. What kind of 'extraordinary' comment can I add here... hmmm...lets see, well... OH i know!


    the end.

  2. LOL! I love the comment above!!

    But truly - I think that the DARES that you talked about with me, and Jon Kabat-Zinn are on to something.

    and Jennifer is right: you are extraordinary!

  3. Thank you Chantal. I agree. And thank you both for also being extraordinary remarkable amazing women. Love to you both...