You are your own teacher (or gurus can't save you)
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” –Wendell Berry
“You have to stop expecting the outside world to take care of you and begin to accept responsibility for your own healing.” -Harville Hendrix in Getting the Love You Want
“Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.” (Traveler, there is no path. You make the path by walking.) -Poet Antonio Machado
"I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains/ I looked to the children, I drank from the fountain/ There's more than one answer to these questions/ Pointing me in crooked line/ The less I seek my source for some definitive/ The closer I am to fine." –Indigo Girls in “Closer to Fine”
“Meaning is unique to each one of us.” –Brene Brown in The Gifts of Our Imperfections
"Well, dog my cats!" says Baba Fats. "here’s one more burnt–out soul, Who’s looking for some alchemist to turn his trip to gold. But you won’t find it in no dealer’s stash, or on no druggist’s shelf. Son, if you would seek the perfect high –– find it in yourself." -Shel Silversteen, excerpted from “The Perfect High”
"An ethical and evolved life entails telling the truth about oneself and living out that truth…when it comes down to it, you must trust your truest truth, even though there are other truths running alongside it." -Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things
"The bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk a while with me and share the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there. The last few steps you have to take alone." -Shel Silversteen
Your Personality Type: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, developed by Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, is a test based off the ideas of psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung that is used to determine your "personality type," particularly in reference to how you view the world and make decisions. Are you extroverted or introverted (E or I)? Do you focus on the basic information (sensing-S) or do you add layers of meaning to what you learn (intuition-N)? When faced with a decision do you look first towards logic (thinking-T) or towards the people involved (feeling-F)? Do you like to make decisions (judging-J) or are you more comfortable staying open to new options (perceiving-P)? Knowing your personality type (expressed by a four letter code) can help you to better understand your way of interacting with the world and can also help you to widen your circle of compassion for the people in your life who act and think differently from you. Free adaptations of the test exist online, or to take the official test, register and determine your personality type here.
Your Character Strengths: Scientific studies point to the idea that there are universal character strengths and that "each human being has a constellation of character traits (character strengths) that make him or her distinct or unique." Determine your "character constellation" through a free online test from Via Institute on Character, and use this knowledge to enhance and strengthen your innate character strengths.
Your Dosha: Ayurveda is a holistic science of health from the Vedic tradition. Ayurveda is based on the three Doshas (Vatta, Pitta and Kapha) which are the energies that make up each person and perform different functions in your body. The following link is a starting point help you to determine your Dosha, which is Sanskrit for "constitution." Understanding your unique Dosha proportions can help you to pursue balance in ways that will meet your specific constitution's needs.
Your Basic Needs: Born out of psychiatrist William Glasser's Reality Therapy (a cognitive-behavioral, problem-solving approach to treatment), Choice Theory is Glasser's idea that almost all of our behavior is chosen, and that our choices are driven by our desire to satisfy our genetically encoded five basic needs which include: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom and fun. Similar to the Ayurvedic concept of a Dosha, we all have a distinct "basic needs profile." Glasser posits that all humans have the same five basic needs (above and beyond their physiological needs), but that the strength of each need will vary among individuals in each of the five categories. While you generally can't bend the world around you to meet your needs, understanding your personal needs profile can help you to discover ways to meet your needs that are productive for you and your community. To determine your basic needs profile, read Chapter Two of Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom by William Glasser, M.D.
Your Leadership Style: The "No-Doze Leadership Styles" class designed by NOLS instructor Molly Doran, helps individuals to evaluate their natural leadership style quadrant: Driver, Architect/Analyst, Relationship Master or Spontaneous Motivator. This exercise will help you to articulate your natural leadership strengths and weaknesses, and also will allow you to see which qualities you need to develop in order to become a well rounded leader, as each of the styles lends itself more favorably to certain situations. Follow along this class outline to determine your "No-Doze Leadership Style."
Your Love Language: Dr. Gary Chapman suggests that each of us has a dominant "love language," or way we communicate love. He categorizes the love languages into five specific categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. Knowing your dominant love language, and that of the people you care about, can help to improve your most important relationships. Determine your dominant love language here.
Your Implicit Bias: Project Implicit seeks to highlight implicit biases that we each carry. The results of this important self-awareness tool are likely harder to metabolize than results of other tests on this resource list, but very important nonetheless. This tool was designed in part by Mahzarin Banaji and Anthony Greenwald, authors of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People. Many of us have the conscious ambition to be unbiased and accepting, but our unconscious minds have not yet caught up to the ideal. Growing awareness of this reality is a step in the right direction.
Your Thoughts: "The Work" is a method of thought inquiry developed by Byron Katie that helps practitioners to understand the pain that comes from attaching to the stories we tell ourselves instead of accepting the reality the world gives us. Byron Katie has created worksheets and other resources that can help guide you through the inquiry process.
A Yoga Practice: No links here as this is a practice that must be known through experience. Yogi BKS Iyengar writes: "Yoga means union. The union of the individual soul with the Universal Spirt is yoga. But this is too abstract a notion to be easily understood, so for our level of understanding I say that yoga is the union of body with the mind and of mind with the soul." If you are new to yoga, seek out a practice that focuses on more than just the physical postures (which are important, but not the full picture).
A Meditation Practice: Meditation is always part of a complete yoga practice, but does not necessarily need to be paired with yoga. There are many different styles of meditation, inspired by various traditions. Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun, writes in her article 5 Reasons to Meditate: "Sitting meditation opens us to each and every moment of our life. Each moment is totally unique and unknown. Our mental world is seemingly predictable and graspable. We believe thinking through all the events and to-dos of our life will provide us with ground and security. But it's all a fantasy, and this very moment, free of conceptual overlay, is completely unique." The advice that has struck me the most about starting a meditation practice, is to pick a tradition and stick with it. Don't take a "spiritual shopping mall" approach and try out lots of different traditions--stick to your chosen path and dive deep, as opposed to skimming along the surface of many paths.