Landmark or landmine?

Tomorrow morning I start the Landmark Forum, an internationally recognized organization that brings together those who would like insight into how they live and how the decisions they take dictate where they end up. Landmark is as well-known for having participants in their weekend-long program experience massive breakthroughs as they are for being labelled a cult, a sect and a shameless money-making machine. I was asked by Lululemon if doing the program would interest me, as their employees who know me believed that Landmark’s philosophies correlated well with my own, and I jumped at the chance to experience first-hand what Landmark is all about…but leading up to this weekend, I’ve experienced a multitude of emotions about my participation in the program, and at the suggestion of my friend Frances Vicente, I decided to write everything down here to have as a “before” reference once the weekend is over and I’m looking back at the whole experience.

As you all well know by now, I’m a huge believer in examining how we live our lives, and why we find ourselves where we do in any given moment. Yoga has been key in my own quest, and as one of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras states, Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. “The fluctuations of the mind” refers to how attached to and involved with we allow our minds to be with the fleeting experiences and moments throughout any given day…the process of observing the world around us to the process of discrimination that allows us to interpret, identify and categorize the goings-on that we move through minute-by-minute. Suffice it to say, I am actively seeking out a state of Yoga these days as I get closer to Landmark, and here’s why: it’s true that people have spoken to me about how incredibly illuminating this program is, how it opens one’s eyes to the role we play on an individual level within the relationships in our lives, how we prevent ourselves from living fully and completely. People speak about finally being able to move past the circumstances and events that have previously plagued them, in some case absolutely rendering them emotionally raw and stunted. I’m all for anything that speaks to people in language they can understand and practically apply to bring their lives closer to their ideal realities. However, I’ve also heard that from the get-go, the speakers at Landmark start selling you on the program, encouraging you to bring everyone you know to their doors under the guise, “If you love the people in your lives, why wouldn’t you want them to experience what would bring them to a higher understanding and degree of happiness?” I’m very fortunate that Lululemon is sending me and footing the bill, but I also know that the weekend is expensive and would probably not be financially viable for most of the people in my life.  The forum lasts Friday, Saturday & Sunday (plus Tuesday evening), and participants are in the program from 9am to 10pm all weekend. They are discouraged from bathroom breaks, have only one 60-minute meal break in the evening for dinner (we are told that we have 30-minute breaks every 2.5-3 hours, but I’ve also heard that we’re given homework to do in these breaks), and are generally kept cooped up in a room with roughly 150 other people for the entire duration. So you’ll understand if the fluctuations of my mind are off the charts right now ;-).

With all that said, I believe that the people at Lululemon who thought of me for this program know me well enough to know that a) I will walk away from this weekend with tools that I can believe in and apply to my own teachings, and b) if my bullshit meter starts getting higher-than-ever readings, I will simply remove myself from the situation. I’m looking forward to having my doubts eradicated, to being shown why this program is as successful as it is, and to being empowered to move closer to my own goals with a clearer-than-ever vision of where I’m going and what I’m trying to do in the world.

I’ll be back here next week to share with you all how this weekend went down…I’m taking a bit of a leap with the Landmark Forum, but I know that the greatest rewards are most often found by those who take the greatest leaps of faith. I’ll let you know where I land…

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