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“In life, too, the peaks decide the meaningfulness of life and a single moment can retroactively flood an entire life with meaning.”

—Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul

The crags and crevices of our storied lives are illuminated by Wisdom.

 

“Logos is deeper than logic.”

Logos has many definitional iterations, but in the spirit of Viktor Frankl’s observation of its depth, Logos is the manifestation of meaning in each of our personal lives and existence.

From Heraclitus to the Stoics, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, from Rosenzweig to Levinas and on to contemporary musings, it is our own uniqueness and the uniqueness of others that reveals the every-changing, mutable, and illuminating Logos of our being. Each life has its own Logos.

What can we learn of our meanings as we reach into the heights of subjectivity? Peak experiences, alternatively framed as kinds of liminal space in which perspective of one’s being and place in the world suddenly brings feelings of uncanniness or disorienting questions, are all pregnant with Logos. Persevering through such ruptures in the familiar can emerge into awe and beauty.

But the liminal events that might flood one’s life with meaning can just as surely be full of horror and darkness as that of wonder, and on the true peaks of existence, survival — whether metaphorical or actual — is not assured. An encounter with mortality is such a peak, as can be a moment of loss, or violence, or discrimination.

In Dr. Tansey’s work as a psychiatrist, she has over 20 years of holding and healing the body, mind, and spirit from the experiences of trauma, in which a violent or grievous rupture of safety writes itself on a personal story, which ongoing hauntings. The constellation, and even co-occurrence, of horror, despair, wonder, and awe, are the feelings that accompany our individual liminality and the unique embodied stories we form around them.

Utterly personal, often refusing reduction or reasoning or logic, the noetic emergence from these peaks and depths is still being told in the evolution of human wisdom, both individual and communal.

Dr. Tansey’s teaching is intended to support wisdom-discovery, both discovered within and spoken by each person’s body, mind, spirit, and heart.

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Dr. Tansey is committed to ongoing collaboration and work in the streams of existential therapy, ethics, phenomenology, and meaning-centered work.

The following include her novel and integrative curricula in Mindfulness and Meaning, open to students and as teacher-training. Also, supervision of psychotherapists and coaches and her work as a member of the Teaching Faculty in the Viktor Frankl Institute for Logotherapy.

Meaning and Existence: The Big Questions

A meaning-seeking approach is the heart of Dr. Tansey’s humanistic teaching and lecturing. A scholar of modern religious thought, she draws from the wisdom traditions of the world and her students’ own Logos-wrestling to challenge the suffering of the existential abyss, lonely fatalism, a tranquilized mindlessness, and various fanaticisms marked by hate, vacuity and emptiness.

Dr. Tansey invites a whole-person experience of knowledge-seeking, including the somatic dimensions of embodiment as truly as the cognitive, conative, dialogical, and noetic capacities. She engages myth and story and metaphor and art and love in the search for meaning.

For if Logos is deeper than logic, our studies cannot be limited to rational grasping alone. And if the revelation of meaning in the present moment flows into our stories in time, we are never static and always Becoming. This is teaching for our own evolution.

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Existential Teaching | Metaphors for the Journey

Frankl’s metaphor of the doctor-logotherapist holding a guide rope is an apt metaphor for teaching and mentoring with an existential framing. Teachers who hold a safety line for the learner on the rock face do not spare the learners from the knowledge-discovery that can only emerge from their own reaching. But the teacher carries a moral responsibility to be diligent to the safety and encouragement of the student in this perilous and life-altering work.

Perhaps unlike the sequential skills-development of a mountain climber in training, however, existential ruptures in life are even less certainly within the curricular preferences of the teacher, and so life itself become a muse to what is born out of struggle. Unquestionably, the nimbleness of mētis is demanded of both learner and teacher in dialogue with each other and with life itself.

Metis Wisdom Dr Janeta Tansey Teaching mountain climbing

“The doctor must model his conduct on the leading mountain-climber, who keeps the rope slack for the man below because otherwise his companion would be spared the effort of climbing independently. But if there is any danger of a fall, he will not hesitate both to secure the rope and to tug on it in order to pull the endangered man up.”

—Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul

The maieutic approach — or midwifery — offers another metaphor to exploring wisdom, honoring that what needs be known is not given but is facilitated as a natal event. In the original text, Socrates identified that his student Theaetus is “suffering the pangs of labor” in what he does not know or understand; wisdom is in gestation, waiting to be born through the mētis of the student under the maieutic guidance of the midwife.

Similarly, Aristotle notes that the quick-wittedness of the midwife is the practice of her own mētis with sharp aim.

Knowledge towards KNOWING | The Perilous Journey

Climbing the face of the mountain is rich with mētis. The surface of the stone and the body that mirrors it are both unique to that moment, the decisions of where to place hand and foot and anchor are guided by a combination of experience and intuition. As the weather changes, light and shadows flicker, fatigue sets in, surprises beset, mētis is the cunning intelligence that perseveres and finds a way that works when there is no definitive map but ample room for skill.

Reading a book or listening to a lecture about mountain-climbing is insufficient. And rescue along the way by a companion is not the goal, except in extremis. Here, the climber’s excellence is shaped by a (sometimes terrifying!) freedom to meet the unique challenges, joys, and frustrations that this being-in-the-moment offers, with no naivete of the peril that would accompany failure. In engaging Being, there is a Becoming. What can be known is transformed in cunning practice to noetic Knowing. In Knowing, wisdom gains weightiness.

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Logos in Self-Transcendence | The Courageous Journey

Passing through liminal states points to what lies beyond the ordinary. These are moments to reflect on both Being-in-the-World and the possibility of self-transcendence. There are dispositions that promote looking beyond the everyday givens. These include hope, gratitude, appreciation of beauty, love, and a search for ultimate meanings.

To practice these is to own one’s own lovely and heroic story. This is not heroism in the form of fame, but in the courageous integrity of being true to oneself and to others. This is not an easy task, but to ignore it is not just mindless and perilous, but will result in existential emptiness and frustration.

As a teacher, lecturer and mentor, Dr. Tansey’s students will find that she expresses gratitude for their courage, hope for our growth, appreciation of the loveliness of every human story, and faith in the defiant power of the human spirit towards self-transcendence and ultimate meaning.

Teacher

An experienced instructor, clinical supervisor and recipient of multiple teaching awards, inviting joy and insight in training and teaching settings.

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Coach

A board-certified coach, specializing in executive and professional care for strength-building and creativity at growth edges and in leadership.

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Speaker

An authentic and warm public speaker, weaving interdisciplinary insights and humanistic perspectives to support a deepening sense of community.

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Demand meaning in the moments of your life.

Chart a navigation course that is clear-eyed and nimble.

Cultivate the habits of perspective, creativity, and curiosity.

Call forth your fiercest capacities for courageous authenticity.

Seek Wisdom.

Janēta Fong Tansey, MD PhD

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