We have clarity on the vision for the new school, which we are naming the Dynamic Self Project: Time for Soul-Shaking.

A new school? What need could there possibly be for a new school? The impetus for the new school originated from Dan’s 45 years as a teacher at Loyola University Chicago and the anecdotes of frustration articulated by numerous physician-friends. Let’s take the motives one at a time, starting with what Dan observed in his students. About one-third of his undergraduate students required prescription drugs to be able to manage their daily responsibilities. These privileged late teenagers who should be fired up with ambition and hope for bright futures suffered from depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (often created by rape), social phobia, chronic diseases such as lupus, and more. Now let’s look at the second motive. Physician-friends who practiced family medicine would admit openly that they could do little to treat the ailments of more than half of the patients who visited their offices. These physicians expressed impotence and frustration at not being able to do more than prescribe palliatives to treat the symptoms and not the underlying causes of their patients’ ailments. And what afflicted their patients? The list dovetailed with Dan’s list above plus some significant additions: migraines, digestive issues, unrelenting back pain, chronic fatigue, and immobilizing grief. These patients coupled with a third of Dan’s students—possibly a third of all students—add up to a large number of people who are carrying their pain and suffering into the future alone…with little hope of relief. The new school is for them.

We are forming the new school on the foundation of three fundamental principles:

  • All ailments strike deep, all the way to the soul.
  • Each person is an individual, one-of-a-kind.
  • The head needs the heart, and both of them need the muscles.


All Ailments Strike Deep, All The Way To The Soul. Every ailment affects the body with physical symptoms, the psyche with emotional repercussions, and the soul with meaning-of-life challenges. For example, melanoma spreads tumors and ulcers from the skin via the circulatory systems to organs throughout the body, and once diagnosed it can lead to a host of emotions ranging from anger, despair, and depression to resilience, doggedness, and love. And meaning-of-life questions surface: Why am I here? Why me? How do I want to live my remaining days? Healing modalities must also go deep, and they can but only if they work together to complement one another. Beginning melanoma (stage 1 or 2) may call for surgical excision (to remove the skin tumor), sun smarts (sunscreen and broad-rimmed hat), a diet rich in antioxidants to neutralize free radicals in the body and in antiangiogenic properties to starve cancer cells (foods common in the Mediterranean cuisine), natural remedies to accelerate healing (burdock leaves wrapped around the wound), healing touch therapy to restore balance in the person’s energy system, tai-chi and deep breathing to quiet the psyche, yoga and meditation to recenter the spirit or, better yet, walking an annotated labyrinth to re-establish one’s meaning in life. This list of healing modalities does not exhaust the possibilities. There are many more: physical exercise, dreamwork, reflexology, acupuncture, archetypal analysis, art-related therapies, and beauty modalities, to name a few more. Human beings have experienced at least a million years of pain and suffering, and their creativity and genius have extended not only to the arts and technology but also to healing modalities. When ailments strike, let’s deal with them all the way to the soul.

Thus, the new school must welcome and embrace the world’s healing modalities.

Each Person Is An Individual, One-Of-A-Kind. The birth of each baby gifts the world with a novel personal universe. With the birth of each human being a multitude of factors comes together to create an individual person, a one-of-a-kind being, who can and will bring to the world a collection of unique talents, perspectives, and observations. Each person begins life with a more or less similar genetic structure consisting of 20,000-25,000 genes, but there the similarity ends. Versions of these genes and the number of copies of some genes vary from person to person. More importantly, the environment in which each person finds him/herself, as well as the thoughts and emotions of the person, lead many of the genes to express themselves differently, even uniquely (the gene associated with breast cancer, for example, need not express itself into the cancer; it can remain dormant for life). In addition to varying genetic composition and gene expression, each person’s external and internal environment possesses differentiating variables such as the ones below:

  • Date and place of birth;
  • Family structure;
  • Community input like friends, neighbors, school, church, clubs, work, politics;
  • Individual thoughts and emotions regarding all of the above;
  • Personal aspirations, ambitions, actions, and the thoughts and emotions regarding them, too.


Is it any wonder that each person begins life as an individual and grows more different with each experience, thought, and emotion? And wouldn’t this difference be palpable enough and vast enough (neuroscientists claim that the synaptic connections in the brain number in the trillions) to qualify each person as a breathing personal universe, unique in history and never to be duplicated in the future?

Thus, the new school must create a unique healing strategy for each person.

The Head Needs The Heart, And Both Of Them Need The Muscles. The adage “Saying so does not make it so” applies almost universally to issues related to suffering, healing, health, and well-being. Statements like, “You shouldn’t be suffering so much because your cat died,” or “Smoking is not good for you,” or “You should be eating more dark, green leafy vegetables to bolster your defense against cancer” almost always fall on fallow ground. The words fall on the ears but fail to sink in. In today’s world, tens of thousands of good words about healing and health flow from the head without making any difference in people’s lives. That’s because the heads needs the heart—words need to be taken to heart. They require ownership. To have an effect, a statement like “Smoking is not good for you” requires a response from the listener, something like “I know, I’ve heard it before, and I’m beginning to come around. I just don’t know if I have the strength to stay away from them (cigarettes).” This response shows that the person is engaged with the initial statement in many ways; he/she is actively listening, taking the statement seriously, considering internalizing the statement as his/her own, and pondering how the statement can be translated into action. What heart adds to head is selection, ownership, and the possibility of action. Now we can turn to the muscles, and rise beyond mere anatomy. Of course, muscles carry out the commitments of the heart, but they do much more. As embodied beings, we live our lives in our bodies, and as such we “muscle-ize” our experiences. An anxious person takes in shallow breaths, folds in the shoulders and arms, speaks fitfully in short sentences, and so on. A centered person strides purposefully, keeping legs, arms, and head in harmony, and breathes slowly and deeply, almost imperceptibly. Our muscles carry our pain and suffering, and they also embody our healing and well-being. This process of muscle-izing requires patience, time, repeated action. We don’t really embark on healing until we generate fruitful ideas, make one of them our own, and, most importantly, live it in the muscles of our body.

Thus, the new school must dedicate a space for each person to learn to muscle-ize healing, and then to practice it repeatedly until healing shapes the muscles of the body.

Ailments go deep…Persons are individuals…The head and heart need the muscles…these are the three principles that anchor the vision for the new school. If you’re interested in learning more, you should keep reading. I plan to place online each chapter of The Dynamic Self Project as I complete it.  More