This coursework has proved to be a lifeline for me. When I began it, I lived a life of public success and private pain. I was succeeding in realizing my career ambitions and loved the admiration of peers and the applause of the crowd. But in my personal life, I found myself ill-equipped to be at peace with myself or to be intimate with others. Through the study and practice of autonomy I have, through great effort and resilience, made significant progress in cultivating the internal fortitude to address this imbalance. Increasingly, my behavior is mine to drive, my perspective is mine to author, and my life is mine to lead.
Executive Director, Public Policy Expert, VA
The Retreat and the Advanced Class sustained the completion of a PhD Program in International Relations and Government. The perspectives, principles and practices of Autonomy nurtured incandescent thinking to create beyond tradition and to articulate bold alternatives beyond convention.
Autonomy’s discipline initiated the substantive nerve to challenge academic authority with a steadfast defense of doctoral dissertation research. I now stand on earned experience of personal and professional self-authorship. I voice a sovereign calm in the maelstrom of pandemic upheaval. A future with stability is present.
Autonomy is rich in context and originative vocabulary. It dispels metaphysical identity. It spells out the connection of all humans to personhood’s advance toward an ideal human existence. In our lifetime, to recognize that we matter in a grand self-design of unbeknownst subjectivity is reason enough to participate with Arnold Siegel.
I have acquired an understanding of who we humans are that has extraordinary practical relevance to living a personally rewarding, full and contributory life. This understanding is based not in the conventions of acquiring wealth and status, but in an ability to evaluate our situations, and to think and act freely to create a productive and artful life.
Corporate Investment Banker, NY
I have a greatly improved ability to think critically and creatively and have come to rely on this activity for managing my life. Immediate feelings, thoughts, moods and attitudes that wash over me in a given moment have much less influence over my life. And I have developed a very strong affinity towards others and become a source of stability for many relationships I am involved in.
Master Engineer, MA
The value of my participation in the class has been enormous and tangible because the subject matter, what it means to be human and what changes have to be made to be fully human, has been a preoccupation of mine my entire adult life. My experience daily in my personhood is calmer and happier than most people I encounter.
I have gone from school teacher to Wall Streeter and business owner. The perspective and the practical skills I learned have enabled me to take such leaps, overcoming inner fear and the well-intentioned “naysayers” to forge ahead and be successful.
Chartered Financial Analyst, Wealth Management Advisor, CT
I have acquired a substance that did not exist before and it has changed for the better my perspective and experience. Confidence, belonging, meaning and purpose are no longer fickle feelings dependent upon others or circumstances, but accessible resources as a result of my own initiative.
Executive Vice-President Sales and Marketing, CA
I am interested in being and promoting a unified, stable and responsible citizenry, able to bend in the wind and stand straight and strong in the sun. Here is the real grass-roots opportunity of our time. How many of us will come to see the great existential opportunity facing all of humanity at the present time? The chance to change ourselves through self-initiated intervention cultivates both impulses and reactions consistent with our enlightened aims for love, connection, stability and prosperity.
When I first met Arnold I was highly suspicious that anything could alter my life. My prior work in the self-development world had left me disillusioned. I had resigned myself to living out my life as best I could with the cards I had been dealt. Today, those dog days are long gone. I am fulfilled and satisfied with a completely different experience of my own personhood. My practical life far exceeds those ideals I used to have for what it would mean to lead a successful life. And I am looking forward to the exciting adventure that life has become.
In gaining sovereignty, stability and soul, I have gained the foundation that was missing for dealing with life. My security and equanimity are now practically unshakeable, even in the face of the current onslaught of bad news.
I now know, trust, and have extraordinary confidence in that I have the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional strength and authority to manage anything life throws at me.
Speech-language Pathologist, KY
The class made me much more able to determine what I really want (and don’t) and gave me new skills to acquire those things to the point that I’m living a life of great satisfaction and fulfillment (nearly) every single moment. I see vast opportunity, feel a great sense of belonging and love for humanity and my place in it. I’ve acquired so much more courage, heart, nerve, and resourcefulness and am much more able to lead, nurture and give comfort to others.
Freelance Writer, CA
To put it simply and succinctly I do not suffer anymore. Gone is the perennial disturbance, anxiety and discontent. Can you put a price on that! If I recognize myself getting all riled up I have the means, the technology, now to manage even master, myself. What is present is the level of tension that accompanies living creatively, this pushing oneself to go beyond oneself, to achieve a bigger life, a bigger heart, to contribute to others. The demand for courage never goes away but it gets easier to do. I experience the complexity of life now that I am more informed and knowledgeable, and I experience the rigors and responsibilities of an awakened mind and heart. Our family life is marked by stability now, and I don’t think one can put a price on the value of stability to family life and children.
Homemaker and Mother, IL
This is the education on life and living that we all require and never got. It’s foundational, substantive, profound, invaluably practical and meaningful.
Owner, Design Company, NY
I now have the tools to carve out my life. I am not at the mercy of my feelings, laziness, thoughts, fears, or others’ demands and wishes, or the culture’s demands and wishes.
Choreographer, Performer, NJ
In the very busy, demanding, long working day of a Family Practitioner, it is a challenge not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number and complexity of my patients’ lives. The discipline of autonomy is an oasis that impacts the degree of compassion and empathy brought forth, increased tolerance for the ever-changing bureaucracy, and the recapturing of my original motive to be a competent and contributing healer.
As a result of the daily thinking integral to this discipline, I have a life that experiences greater equanimity and satisfaction.
I went to my first retreat full of skepticism thinking that my twenty-five years of studying philosophy and psychology was going to be hard to augment. Yet, even in my earliest retreat I came away with virtually every part of my life placed into a perspective where my values became sharp and distinct to a degree I never imagined. As a result, life itself became simpler and more profound. I lost a sense of fear and antagonism that I never knew I even had. I enjoyed work more and was promoted several times.
Continuing to participate in these classes also helped me to become more straightforward and heartful in communication, less self-protective, more open, and to gain a new sense of adventure in life. My marriage is more joyful and I finally feel like I am the architect of my life and not merely controlled by life’s many demands. Too often classes make promises that are “too good to be true.” If anything, these classes realize far more than anyone could expect!
Ph.D., Director of University Planning and Emeritus Professor, CA