On the importance of inner work and attending to one’s shadow.

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Most of us are generally aware that there are both conscious and unconscious aspects to our minds, but most of us know very little about what constitutes either one.

Consciousness as a phenomenon itself is difficult to explain as it is, but most of us understand what we mean when we talk about conscious awareness. It is the unconscious mind where the mysterious depths lie.

We have a vague notion that our unconscious mind plays a role in the unfolding of our lives, but it often remains too abstract to really do anything with. …


On patting your dragon, feeding the dark wolf, and finding harmony within.

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Photo by Lewis Burrows from Pexels

Shadows can be ominous. They play tricks on our eyes. We think we are seeing something that we are not. They may trigger our fight or flight mechanism and increase our heart rate, so it’s no wonder that the notion of a shadow self can sound intimidating at first.

Yet what we find with these ominous shadows is that as soon as we turn a light on them, their true form is revealed. The tall elongated figure that stared down upon us with a persistent gaze was only the bedpost. The craggy arm that reached into our room threatening to touch us was only the old tree in the backyard. With this newfound awareness, we can then turn off the light and look upon the same shadows without the fear and anxiety they produced only moments prior. …


A four-step process for doing your own dream work.

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Photo by Andrew Coelho on Unsplash

Dreams are wild and mysterious. They can feel profound especially in the first few minutes of coming out of them. However, attempts to derive meaning from them are often met with puzzlement. The dreams that felt so vivid and profound end up too slippery and abstract to really gain anything from them. Many of those dreams just end up forever forgotten.

There are dream dictionaries and such resources that attempt to explain what certain themes and symbols mean but these are not reliable. While there may be some archetypal patterns that can be objectively interpreted, dreams are unequivocally subjective. The appearance of a raven, for instance, could mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people. …


A story about presence.

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Photo by Adrien Ledoux on Unsplash

There was once a man who did not want to be where he was. Not knowing exactly where he wanted to be, he headed to the local train station intent on going somewhere.

“Ticket please,” said the man with a deliberate tone.

“Where to sir?” replied the clerk.

“Anywhere but here,” said the man with a nod.

“Well those tickets are very expensive!” replied the clerk. He quickly clarified, “Due to the fact that the trips can be so long.”

The man looked at the clerk perplexed, but he was dead set on being anywhere except where he was, so he conceded. …


On healing our collective self.

Man in orange jacket hugging a tall tree.
Man in orange jacket hugging a tall tree.
Photo by KAL VISUALS on Unsplash

There’s something that bothers me about the climate change conversation. Actually, there’s something that bothers me about the way we talk about the environment in general.

We treat the environment as if it were a separate entity. We discuss the climate as if it were something outside of ourselves — a thing we have to fix. If climate change didn’t threaten our cities and economic development, we might just go on polluting our rivers, soils, and air just as we’ve always done.

There is so much outward energy focused on legislation, reducing carbon footprints, and converting energy sources. If we could get everyone to eat a certain way, drive a certain way, consume in a certain way, then the problem would finally be solved. …


How to help them adopt a growth mindset that loves to face obstacles instead.

Boy looking at a map.
Boy looking at a map.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When I was in elementary school I was lumped into a group of “above average” students. All it really meant was that we got to do some different modules and a few extracurricular activities. I didn’t think much about it at the time, I just thought it was great that I was apparently more intelligent than some of my other classmates. Before you think that sounds boastful, I can assure you it only set me up for future hardship.

That label followed me through high school and as the topics started to increase in difficulty, I just expected my “innate” smarts to get me by. It only got harder. In pre-calculus, I got my first C on my report card. I was too ashamed to ask for help. I was embarrassed that I didn’t automatically know how to solve certain equations. It was challenging for me and I was afraid to admit it. I even think some of my teachers rushed their explanations because we were an AP class. …


A poem.

Man standing on top of mountain with colorful sunset behind.
Man standing on top of mountain with colorful sunset behind.
Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

I am not my thoughts,
but who am I without them?
I am not my experiences,
but what have I in their absence?

Everything I do will be forgotten,
yet I feel an insatiable drive to create
I’ve taken so many steps,
yet the horizon never nears

Growth is obtaining,
and growth is letting go
Success is expansion,
and success is scaling down

It is said that everything is meaningless,
yet some of those meaningless things make me happy
Life is the pursuit of questions,
only to realize the journey itself is the answer


Why stoicism fails as a modern ideology.

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Photo by Anna Vi on Unsplash

Stoicism has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years and it is easy to see the appeal. We are inundated with images of a chaotic and fractured world while simultaneously being paralyzed by the freedom of choice and opportunity. It feels like everything is broken yet anything is possible.

So a philosophy that suggests our emotions can be harnessed and that we should primarily focus on differentiating between what we can and cannot change sounds enticing. It seems like an appealing strategy for navigating our times.

However, there is a fundamental problem underlying Stoicism that makes it a problematic philosophy for our post-modern age. By no means am I suggesting that everything about Stoicism should be tossed out. There is a lot of fantastic advice that falls under the Stoicism umbrella. But there is a central area of concern that lies at the center. It has to do with the big Other and how our concept of the big Other has shifted over the centuries. …


A poem on loving that which cannot be contained.

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Photo by Nashwan Guherzi from Pexels

My love for a river
is not for the water itself
For the water is never the same
To wet my hands at the river’s edge
is to touch the water for the first and last time

Nor is my love for the shape of the banks
or the stony bed beneath
For those alone do not enrapture me
They merely give form and structure to the river
mere vessels for its presence

So what is the river that I love?
What is it that beckons me?
It is flow with a particular shape
It is movement with a lovely song
It is impermanence well-lived


A look at a famous literary character and the importance of being clear about where you are going.

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Scrooge, by all accounts, followed the advice of all the productivity gurus we hear from today.

He ran a lean business (he had just one employee):

The door of Scrooge’s counting-house was open that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying letters.

He outsourced menial tasks to this one employee whose labor was cheap:

Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. …

About

Lance Baker

A fellow traveler and observer on the journey through life. Trying to cultivate a deeper way of being in the world.

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