Awaken 101

Discovering Meaning and Purpose in Uncertain Times


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About the Book

Discovering our meaning and purpose—our reason for being—can seem like an impossible task, especially given the tumultuous times in which we find ourselves. Through challenging povocations, uplifting narratives, and profound insights, this book emboldens readers to experience their lives, not as spectators, but as reflective, courageous and purposeful participants. We can turn toward the problems, look them in the eye, and begin the work of setting things right—we can begin the process of awakening.

Organized as a five-part journey, it explores, both cognitively and experientially, what it might mean to assume the rightful authorship of your life. By breaking out of the dominant narrative of how life should be lived, and by becoming more aware of the world around us, we can gain the tools essential for becoming open-minded, embodied, introspective and soulful human beings.

About the Author(s)

Christopher Uhl is an author and professor emeritus of biology at Penn State University. His research centers on environmental conservation and sustainability. He lives in State College, Pennsylvania.




Melissa DiJulio is an ecopsychologist, writer, and storyteller, living outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.




Bibliographic Details

Christopher Uhl and Melissa DiJulio

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 270
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8231-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4051-8
Imprint: Toplight

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tressa J. Gibbard 1
Prologue 5
Part I: Waking Up
Introduction 12
Asleep or Awake? 14
What We Believe, We Become: Are you living
or are you being lived? 18
Questions Rather Than Answers 25
Education for What? 32
Truthspeaking as a Catalyst for Awakening 39
The Story That Lives Us 44
Coda: Waking Up 50
Part II: Breakdown:
Stepping into the Unknown
Introduction 54
Breakdown as a Catalyst for ­­Self-Discovery 56
Rites of Passage as Gateways for Awakening 62
Success from the Inside Out 68
The Seed in Each of Us 75
Hearing the Call 82
From Breakdown to Breakthrough 89
Coda: Breakdown 97
Part III: A Curriculum for Waking Up
Introduction 100
Transcending Dualism 102
Recovering Imagination and Play 109
Reclaiming Wildness 115
Discovering ­­Full-Body Intelligence 122
Opening to Love 129
Living Life Now 133
Befriending Our Shadow 140
Coda: A Curriculum for Waking Up 146
Part IV: Awakening in Action
Introduction 150
Each Day as a Call to Presence 153
Stuff: Living Within the Story of Enoughness 158
Food: From Passive Consumer to Awakened Participant 164
Transportation: An Exercise in Awakening 170
Community: What Can We Do for Each Other? 177
Happiness from the Inside Out 183
Coda: Awakening in Action 190
Part V: Personal and Cultural Transformation
Introduction 194
A New Story of Self 196
A New Story of the Human Other 202
A New Story of Earth 209
A New Story of the Universe 215
Healing: Breakdown Revisited 220
It All Comes Down to Choice 228
Coda: Personal and Cultural Transformation 234
Epilogue 237
Acknowledgments 241
Chapter Notes 243
Bibliography 255
About the Authors 258

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Awaken 101 offers readers a chance to explore what it means to pursue transformational education experiences. The authors’ deep sense of commitment to student well-being and their quest for universities to be places that embrace an ethic of care are evident with every turn of the page… A must-read for college students.”—Jacqueline Edmondson, Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Penn State Greater Allegheny
• “My deep gratitude to Christopher Uhl and Melissa DiJulio for Awaken 101. In the academic context, it is truly a work of vision and courageous vulnerability. As readers, my invitation to you is to hold all of your current beliefs about your life goals, societal norms, and the nature-of-things loosely as you journey through the pages of this book. Openly, wholeheartedly, live into the exercises, into the questions. Lean into what is uncomfortable. Step beyond previously perceived boundaries. In other words, my invitation to you is to fully show up and give this everything you’ve got. May it embark you on dreams beyond your wildest plans.”—Jamie K. Reaser, author of Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out
• “For members of the anxious generation who were born after 9/11, who grew up during the Great Recession, and who came of age in a time of climate emergency, here is a book unlike others. Not a study guide for the college entrance exams or a standard text for a major chosen with an eye on paying off educational debt, this book draws wisdom from a wide range of sources to invite young adults to awake, reflect, connect, and choose to live in more mindful, engaged, and satisfying ways. Themselves from different generations and genders, DiJulio and Uhl offer with clarity and concision a compelling call to Awaken!”—Julia Spicher Kasdorf, author of Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields
Awaken 101 takes readers on a journey that strikes me as revolutionary to both our perceptions and our life choices. I predict that it has the potential for a wide and even redemptive cultural impact; and that it will be eagerly taken up by young people in search of meaning and purpose in these tumultuous times, as well as by educators, parents and helping professionals.”—Joanna Macy, author of Active Hope
• “Who am I? Why am I here? How can I be of service to life? These are the kinds of big questions that readers are invited to explore in Awaken 101. As such, this book would be a great choice for college first-year seminar courses aimed at guiding emerging adults in the quest for self-discovery, as well as for teachers seeking ways to support young people in their development as engaged learners and citizens.”—Jeff Adams, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at Penn State University