Reflections Parallel: Nonconformity, Contradiction & Getting Real


In this four-part series, Mark Matousek guides you through Emerson’s essential wisdom teachings as they apply to everyday life.


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Reflections Parallel - Nonconformity, Contradiction & Getting Real: Timeless Lessons for a Better Life - with Mark Matousek

In this four-part series, Mark Matousek guides you through Emerson’s essential wisdom teachings to help you understand your contradictions and tap into your inherent genius.

Four 90-minute recorded webinars

Overview of Nonconformity, Contradiction & Getting Real

Ralph Waldo Emerson taught that inconsistency, originality, and nonconformity are essential human virtues. We’re two-sided creatures, Homo duplex, endowed with dualistic natures that require careful integration. Each of us is both brave and frightened, generous and stingy, loving and hateful on any given day. How we harmonize these opposing parts determines the quality of our lives.

In this four-part series, Mark Matousek guides you through Emerson’s essential wisdom teachings as they apply to everyday life. Emerson was America’s Transcendentalist prophet and spiritual godfather, a voice of mystic wisdom during the most violent period in our country’s history – from pre-Civil War through the Abolition – and his profound insights can help us tremendously in these turbulent times. 

Understanding your contradictions helps you tap into your inherent genius. Emerson believed that we’re all born with genius, a kind of ‘tutelary spirit’ or muse whose sole purpose is to lead us toward our own flourishing. When we practice the art of “lowly listening” – hearing the “whisper that only we can hear” – we align ourselves to this original genius and what Emerson called “self-reliance.” 

Mark brings 35 years of experience as a writer, teacher, and lover of Emerson to this mind-opening course. He explains the spiritual purpose of being two-sided, complex, many-leveled creatures, and why Emerson’s philosophy is so relevant today. As you will learn, we are infinitely larger, more complex, and filled with potential than we give ourselves credit for. Emerson’s protégé Walt Whitman described this well. “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes,” the rebel poet declared. The value of our contradictions is what this course is about.

  • The value of originality and trusting your nature
  • Why nonconformity is essential to awakening
  • How adversity leads to fortitude and fruition
  • Why resilience depends on expressing the shadow
  • The connection between gratitude and acceptance of life (amor fati
  • How love is especially deepened when the heart resists

“Your goodness must have an edge to it, else it is none,” Emerson taught. When we’re enslaved by the desire to ‘be good’, we risk turning into hypocrites. Learning to view contradiction as a plus not a minus changes our minds and our “angle of vision,” which helps to quiet the conflict within.

Nonconformity, Contradiction & Getting Real: Timeless Lessons for a Better Life 

Lesson Plan

Session One

Originality and Nonconformity

Session Two

Adversity and Resilience

Emerson’s sublime teachings on resilience and adversity are the subject of this second class. Pain is our teacher, guide, and informant; hardship creates our character and forms the foundation of all that we do. As Emerson teaches, “Whilst he sits on the cushion of advantages, he goes to sleep. When he is pushed, tormented, defeated, he has a chance to learn something.” Being game for your own challenges, realizing you’re equal to the tasks life sets before you, is enormously empowering. Knowledge is the antidote to fear, Emerson tells us. But why is this so? And how does this affect how we confront our obstacles? This critical question is the focus of our second session. 

Session Three

Paradox and Contradiction

The doubleness of experience is what makes life so extraordinary. We have the hard-wiring for enlightenment while our feet are planted firmly in the mud. In this third session, we focus on paradox as a spiritual practice, and contradiction, inconsistency, imperfection, un-fixability, as the warp and woof of our divine nature. “There is a crack in everything God has made,” Emerson tells us. Integrating contradiction is what we’re made for; the tension of opposites gives us backbone, makes us adaptable, and prevents us from becoming complacent. There are two sides to everything, beginning with our nature, and practicing the integration of both brings vitality. 

Session Four

Vitality, Nature & Love

In this final meeting, we focus on viriditas, the greening power of creation, and what yoking to this natural force teaches us about personal growth. Nature is our greatest teacher, Emerson taught Emerson; her lessons in perseverance, letting go, adaption, balance, resilience, connection, self-nourishing, and imagination can enrich your life immeasurably. In this session, Mark talks about Emerson’s relationship with his protégé, Henry David Thoreau who built a cabin on Emerson’s Walden Pond, and what Thoreau taught him about the power of wilderness. Allowing for her own wild parts keeps us a person interested and interesting. Emerson’s timeless lessons for a better will both uplift and inspire you. 

Mark Matousek

About Mark Matousek

Mark Matousek is a bestselling author, teacher, and speaker whose work focuses on personal awakening and creative excellence through transformational writing and self-inquiry. He brings over three decades of experience as a memoirist, editor, interviewer, survivor, activist, and spiritual seeker to his penetrating and thought provoking work with students. His workshops, classes, and mentoring have inspired thousands of people around the world to reach their artistic and spiritual goals.

In his books and teaching, Mark guides you through an original process of self-examination called Writing To Awaken. This transformative method uses writing a tool for insight, innovation, and clarity of purpose. Mark teaches that, “When you tell the truth, your story changes. When your story changes, your life is transformed.” His work is accessible to non-writers as well as those with writing experience. Scientific studies reveal that expressive writing has remarkable physical and psychological benefits. Writing To Awaken is a powerful, uniquely direct path to revealing the wisdom already inside you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Reflections Parallel is a series of live webinars presented by special guest teachers of Caroline Myss. Every series offers transformational concepts, inspiring ideas, spiritual truths, and sacred mysteries that draw you into wondrous states of deep reflection about your life and power you have to redirect your life at any given moment.

Yes – all sessions are recorded! The replays are available on the webinar page immediately after the session ends. Recordings are then posted to within 48 hours.

Generally, only On-Demand workshops and Reflections webinars where Caroline Myss is the featured teacher are automatically included with Inner-Net. However, this Reflections Parallel course will be added to Inner-Net on July 15, 2024.

If you have additional questions, you can find our contact page here.