Ep.54 - Patreon Preview | Deconstructing Dogma Series Sampler w/ Special Guests ― The ‘cult’ure series continues with a carefully-curated sneak peek at what’s been happening in the deconstructing dogma series - streaming exclusively over on Patreon. Every week, Candice sits down with friends and former colleagues to critically examine culty indoctrination in the wellness world, and you can now access 14+ hours of bonus content over on Patreon. This episode features some of the best moments from those convos to date, including excerpts from a dozen episodes with regular contributor, Tracy Stamper. She and Candice have been unlearning out loud as part of their cult recovery. Excerpts include: a critical look at day-one Org teachings and what happens when helpful tools meant to liberate self-expression do just the opposite; coercive marketing and recruitment practices and how they’re used to justify exploitative labor practices down the road (and up the hierarchy); culty language and how damn difficult it can be to lose the lingo and learn to think critically again; and ‘triple isolation’ what it is and how to recover from it. You'll hear more from Monica Welty in a Patreon-exclusive bonus where she and Candice continue their main feed conversation and discuss how to make meaning without making shit up. Former Org trainer, Maria Skinner, joins the pod and poses some hard questions about Org leadership and the differences between transparency and TMI. Also, a sample from a recent two-part Patreon release with yoga mentor and former yoga teacher trainer, Sybil Nance. Sybil and Candice discuss retreat red flags and how to make repairs in the aftermath of our inherited trauma. And then the episode wraps with an intro to Susan McCulley, who’s up next in the deconstructing dogma series.

Patreon donations keep the podcast ad-free. If you're interested in learning more, visit patreon.com/thedeeperpulse.

Ep.54 - Patreon Preview | Deconstructing Dogma Series Sampler w/ Special Guests

Candice Schutter: 0:13
Welcome back to The Deeper Pulse and the continuation of the 'cult'ure series. I've been working behind the scenes for the past few weeks and next week I'll be dropping some new conversations that I'm super excited to share with you.

But today I wanted to give you a sample of what's been going on behind the scenes over on Patreon. Today, I'll be sharing excerpts from about a dozen different episodes in the deconstructing dogmas series. These episodes are a supplement to 'cult'ure series content, and they're only available over on Patreon.

The deconstructing dogmas series started when I realized there was just a ton of content that I wanted to explore related to the 'cult'ure series, but it was way more than I could feasibly produce through the main feed of the podcast. I decided to host these conversations on Patreon, so that I could not only share this extra content, but to also have a place where podcasts listeners and I can engage in ongoing dialogue.

So I invited my good friend, Tracy Stamper, to join me once again, and this time for uncut conversations with an intimate focus on our own cult recovery. In recent weeks, deconstructing dogma episodes have been featuring many more special guests, former colleagues, and patrons of the podcast.

And what I'm envisioning longterm is the creation of a collaborative space where we can do this work together, and go even deeper with main feed topics in a space that is safe and welcoming to all. Now, If you're not familiar with Patreon, it's just a place where content creators can share their digital creations. The way that it's usually set up is that it's a tiered membership portal, and if you've been listening to this series, you know that I am not all that interested in hierarchies. Not only because they can be kind of culty, but mainly because in this case, they impact accessibility.

So in an effort to keep the vibe as un-culty as possible, I got creative and did away with the usual membership tiers and created more of a sliding scale donor model, where everyone gets access to the same bonus content regardless of what they can afford to pay. So patrons of the pod can join the community and pay as little as $1 and anything up to $20 a month to access all the extras. And then, of course, are free to leave at any time.

Every single dollar received through Patreon supports podcast production. And most importantly, it helps me to keep doing this work while keeping the content editorially uncompromised and ad-free. So in this episode, I want to share with you just a sample of what's available over on Patreon. I'm going to be pulling clips from roughly a dozen bonus episodes. They drop weekly. And once you become a member as with the main feed episodes, you can stream them through your favorite listening app. Or you can watch the uncut video content of each episode on your phone or computer. Transcripts are also made available.

Now, keep in mind as you're listening that there's roughly 14 hours of bonus content with new episodes being added weekly. So what you're hearing today is just a brief sample. But I'm hoping that it's enough to add value and inspire you to ask deeper questions as you continue to engage with content here on the main feed. And if it inspires you to join us over on Patreon, that would be great too.

A quick side note, before we dig in. The episode numbers that I mentioned and each of the transitions between clips, they correspond not with main feed episodes, but with the deconstructing dogma bonus episodes that are hosted over on Patreon.

Okay, so let's get started.

As always the stories and opinions shared in this episode are based on personal experience and are not intended to malign any group, individual or organization.

We're going to begin with a few clips from bonus episodes #3, 4, and 5, where Tracy and I deconstruct the very first thing we were taught in the Org training environment. Teachings that were loosely based on the ancient indigenous traditions of the Toltec people who were native to Southern Mexico. We discuss the ways in which these tools were helpful, and also how they were distorted and reframed to serve the aims of Org leadership as well as the impact that this had on each of us personally.

Hello Patreon subscribers. Tracy and I are back again to deconstruct some more dogma. for you. So today we are focusing on a doozy of a topic. This is probably, when I thought about the dogma I wanted to deconstruct this was the thing that rose up for me the most. They were presented in the very, very, very beginning of the first level of training at the Org. And they set the foundation and the tone for the training environments. We're gonna talk about that. And then when we say the four agreements, we're talking about the way that Don Miguel Ruiz defined them. Okay.

Because what I discovered when I really started looking into this was that the way that these four principles were presented in the Org and the way that they're presented in Don Miguel Ruiz's work is really different. Tracy and I in no way can tell you what they meant in the indigenous tradition. We don't know. We only have these two sort of lenses to look through, and I wanna talk about those differences. And also specifically where we wanna go is to talk about how those tools were weaponized in the environment and created a controlling and coercive environment. So that's where we're gonna go today.

We will be speaking from our own personal experiences. And uh, also talking about what we witnessed in terms of the way that these were used. So do you have anything you wanna say before we dive into the first of the four?

Particularly I would ask from your perspective as somebody who utilized them. Like I was in the training environment, I learned to walk the talk. And also within the workplace, we were expected to follow these guidelines. You were also in the training environment, experiencing these reminders consistently. And then you became a trainer who taught these four things to other people. Is there anything you wanna say about that before we dive into them?

Tracy Stamper: 6:50
Yes. That the wisdom within them has changed my life dramatically. I have learned so much about myself through these tools. I've learned so much about emotional health within relationships with others, through using these tools. I find them so powerful. And I have experienced them being used as a weapon against me. And I fear I've used them as a weapon against others.

Candice Schutter: 7:30

Tracy Stamper: 7:33
Yeah. Ooh. How does that feel?

Candice Schutter: 7:36
Human. I mean, you know, it's part of really what I, where I've been landing in my own recovery process is like, Candice, give yourself a goddamn break. So much of the indoctrination that I've experienced in wellness circles has been live to this ideal, achieve to this ideal, communicate to this ideal, relate to this ideal, feel to this ideal. And it's like, I'm just a freaking human. I'm messy. And when I prescribe to ideals and cling to them, that's when I do the most damage. Yes. And so I have a lot of forgiveness at this point toward myself around all of that. Cause I'm like, oh hunny. Oh hunny, you were trying so hard. You were trying so hard to be good. And you hurt people, trying to be good. So maybe stop trying to be good and just be yourself. I don't know, just a thought. That's kind of where I am with all this. I mean, the thing that really jumped out at me before we dive into each agreement was that when I went online and started poking around and I went to Don Miguel Ruiz's website and I was reading about the four agreements on there, and then he had these videos posted. And he talks about like kind of where they came from and what they're about. And what's so fascinating is that what I saw on his website was that he has these videos about domestication. I think it's like domestication part one and domestication part two. And it's interesting because it sort of is aligned with cult dynamic thinking in terms of educating people on it. Like we're raised inside the dream that is the human experience. And each of us, by function of our relationship to people around us are continually making agreements through our socialization. And we're becoming domesticated by the culture we occupy. Part of his invitation is to wake up to those social agreements that we're making. Right? He's really kind of like helping us to un indoctrinate ourselves from this domestication. And that these new agreements are meant to break us free from that domestication. And he actually says that the intention of the four agreements is to help you recover your authentic self. And he says in another place in the book that the biggest sin you can commit is self-rejection. The biggest sin you can commit is self-rejection. So as they're laid out by Don Miguel Ruiz, the four agreements are all about returning to the authentic self. Waking up from the trance that is domestication and who we're supposed to be and getting in touch with who we really are. That's really what he says that it's all about. Okay. So now I'm gonna read you the description of what they're for in the Org environment, how they're pitched at the training. The foundation is really different. It was about controlling the environment.

Tracy Stamper: 10:34
And expression.

Candice Schutter: 10:35
And expression, yes. And saying the intention in using these principles is "for each individual to become responsible for their own interdynamics and reality, including thoughts, fears, projections, assumptions, insecurities, misrepresentations." So that right there, that list, when I read that, I'm like, holy shit. I'm a mess. I have so much that I need to be tracking so that I don't screw this up for everybody else. And that, some of you who weren't in the trainings might be thinking, well, well you're kind of reading into that a little bit. It's like, that's how it felt, for me.

Tracy Stamper: 11:10

Candice Schutter: 11:11
was sort of like,

Tracy Stamper: 11:12

Candice Schutter: 11:12
Okay. I need to be micromanaging myself. It felt oppressive. It felt domesticating. I didn't feel like there was an invitation for my wild truth to come out in the best way possible. It felt more like, I need to stay within the bounds. And as we get into each one, we'll talk about how that played out. Um, does that resonate with you, Tracy?

Tracy Stamper: 11:33
Absolutely. And also looking at that same thing, through the experience of having been the trainer presenting it. It felt very much like this. We've got right a schedule, we've got a lot to do and we need to tamp down on anything that veers from that. Because we've gotta focus on Yeah, the material at hand.

Candice Schutter: 11:57
So it's about efficiency. Right. Well, yeah, cuz I mean every training day had so much packed in. And it's, for somebody who who was also a teacher trainer for another company after I left the Org. I know what that feeling. I know where you're like, holy shit. We gotta get through all these things. Ours was a three day training. It was like, we have a lot to cover. And I need to, yeah, keep people's communication within these certain bounds in order to get through it. Like I wanna have this sort of engaging experience, but if I don't control and put guardrails on it, then we're never gonna get through it all. I get it, practically speaking. And though looking at the psychological ramifications of how it was applied, I think is a whole other thing. Um.

Tracy Stamper: 12:37

Candice Schutter: 12:38
And really even just presenting it from the very beginning, the very, very, very first thing you need to think about is how the hell you're showing up. You're already nervous. You're already anxious. You're in the space with all these strangers, you know, like you're gonna do this deep work. You're physically vulnerable cause it's a body somatic practice. And so for, for many folks, for somebody like me who's compliant people pleaser to me it's how do I follow the rules? How do I please and appease? Which isn't what I'm hearing don Miguel Ruiz say.

Tracy Stamper: 13:10
Not and appease.

Candice Schutter: 13:11
No, no. That's not what it's about at all. Right.

And here's a quick sample of our more in-depth exploration of two of the teachings as they were presented at the Org.

I will become hypervigilant over the way that I think and feel, and it's like I'm at war with my own emotional body at all times, and there's this gaslighting of self, and this don't take anything personally thing is like I will negate myself in this interaction. It's just so different than what its intention was.

So even as I'm having this conversation, I'm realizing, okay, now I am really seeing the divide. How it is taught constructively is really helpful and how it becomes abusive. This whole don't be a victim thing. That's the thing that gets me the most fired up is like, don't be a victim. Don't be a victim. And it's like there is such thing as victims. There are perpetrators and there are victims in life. And also that feels like a smoke screen cuz it's I don't care if I'm a victim or not. Like that's not what I'm fighting for is my right to call myself a victim. I don't give a shit whether you or me call me a victim. That's not what this is about. That's just a distraction. That's just a, a way for you to shut me up instead of just saying, this doesn't feel good to me, and I'm gonna stand up and say something. This doesn't feel good to me the way you're treating this person or the way you're treating me, and I'm gonna say it. And it's like, well, you're, you're just being reactive. You're misreading, which is gonna take us to the next, mm-hmm. you're misreading the situation. You're making assumptions.

Tracy Stamper: 14:46
What has recently started to really crystallize for me with this one is, yes, I always want to be aware of assumptions that I'm making always. This is present for me, not just every day, but. Every hour, every conversation. It's, it's very much a gate for me. And situations, and this happens a lot in high demand groups, in culty environments. The information from the top isn't necessarily free flowing.

Candice Schutter: 15:19

Tracy Stamper: 15:20
There are things that are left unsaid. There are things that are not clarified. It is a very normal, this is what I'm discovering, a very normal human response and reaction to try to fill in those blanks, to try to make meaning, to understand what is going on around us. So when we've got both of those things happening. On the one hand we have a lack of information or things that are said, not matching actions that can all create confusion.

Candice Schutter: 15:54

Tracy Stamper: 15:55
And without being able to explore in my head and just run through some different options like what might be causing this weird sensation I'm feeling. Right. What might be causing this tension that you could cut with a knife? And so what do I do with that? If, if I am hyper-vigilant, which I am about being really careful to not make assumptions or to just be aware that I am making an assumption. I can never really explain all of this.

Candice Schutter: 16:29

Tracy Stamper: 16:30
Because I won't allow myself to entertain this.

Candice Schutter: 16:32

Tracy Stamper: 16:32
So where does that leave me? Just lost.

Candice Schutter: 16:44
Bonus episode #7. This was a timely conversation, especially for Tracy who was grappling with her former role as an Org teacher trainer. It focuses primarily on some troubling language that she was trained to use when it came to recruiting new teachers. Dogma that helped lay the foundation for exploitive labor practices.

Tracy Stamper: 17:11
I think it was about two days ago, I found myself organically hitting next level healing, I believe. I was able to see this experience from what feels like a more honest lens. And I experienced, I was just overwhelmed by shame that as a trainer, I was the one who pitching this notion about, oh, how we should be so grateful for all these other benefits, non-financial benefits that one receives. If that is pitched by a corporation with the history of not paying workers for what they're doing for the company. It is hugely problematic. It is hugely problematic, because it's part of laying the foundation that folks should be so honored to share this amazing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Yeah. That they are willing to forego the foundation of being paid for their work. I'm not saying folks weren't paid at all, but there is a question of being paid for one's worth and when that is not happening, It feels really icky and manipulative.

Candice Schutter: 18:41
Yeah. It's the analogy that keeps coming to mind for me is like icing without cake. And pointing to the icing and being like, well, look at the icing. Look at the icing. But there's no cake or like the tiniest few bit of crumbs underneath the icing, right?

Tracy Stamper: 18:58
Yeah. How far is that gonna get you?

Candice Schutter: 19:02

Tracy Stamper: 19:02
That's gonna get you to a headache. Because we need cake with our icing.

Candice Schutter: 19:07
You don't want a bowl full if icing?

Tracy Stamper: 19:09
Well, no, I do not. I like my icing. I would like extra icing, but it needs to come with the cake.

Candice Schutter: 19:17
Right. Yeah. Which is what points to the other piece of Robert Jay Lifton's criteria, which is doctrine over person. So that sense of self-sacrifice. That sense of, well, yeah, I'm already in the red. I paid $1,500 to do the training. I paid, I don't know how much for the clothes that I wear when I do it. If you do the math, it doesn't work out. And the powers that be within the company know that. And you're, they're using this language to say like, but look at the icing, y'all. And I don't think I don't think that it's coming from like a place of wanting people to have meaningful work. It's coming from the bottom line. People are not gonna sign up unless we sell them, that they're gonna get paid in other ways. Cuz we know that they're not gonna get paid in all the ways that are gonna translate into paying their bills. It's really important to note that by the time people get to this point where they're first introduced to this idea, they've already invested in a $1,500 training. They've already been able to leave their life behind for an entire week, if not more, including travel time. They're already a filtered group of people with a certain amount of privilege. Many of them have disposable income to pay for something like this and to devote their lives to continually paying more than they're getting. The people who don't, who, in my case, I had a lot of privilege that got me there, and also I maxed out a credit card to do my training cause I didn't have disposable income. Even those folks can be sold on the idea that like, oh, just continue to invest because you're gonna get rewarded in time, or you're gonna get rewarded on a soul level. And that's manipulative because people should be able to make that choice without that manipulation. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with, if you have disposable income devoting your life to something and not making a salary.

Tracy Stamper: 21:16

Candice Schutter: 21:16
But let's not pretend it's something that it's. Let's just be plain, let's speak plainly about what's going on there.

Tracy Stamper: 21:25
It's almost like a mental training where the Org is associating the benefits of the practice with the idea of salary.

Candice Schutter: 21:36

Tracy Stamper: 21:38
And again, my take on it is that I found it a just a gorgeous inspirational lens to look through in terms of a holistic human. What are the benefits that I would get from making this choice, right? What above and beyond? The obvious of payment would I receive if I took this path?

Candice Schutter: 22:03

Tracy Stamper: 22:04
The problem is when it's not above and beyond when it's being used to maybe divert attention from the fact that this cash is lacking.

Candice Schutter: 22:18
Well, particularly if you look at the long game. So it's one thing to say to someone, Hey, like you might teach four classes a month, eight classes a. You might maybe pay for your licensing fee and the materials, the extra stuff, the clothes that you buy. I feel like people are smart enough to math that out in their heads and like, think about that. And then you throw the icing on and they're like, okay, icing. Like I, and, and also I get access to these training materials, which are gonna help me embody the work and I'm gonna experience those benefits, like on that base level, level one training I can kind of see why it works so well. Because it sort of does make sense, in a way.

Tracy Stamper: 22:58

Candice Schutter: 22:58
Even though the term, I still have issues with. But when you look at the long game of like, okay, so then in order to continue to be a better teacher, because the hierarchy's really clear in the minds of the trainees. Like if a, if I'm in a first level training and there's a level three teacher in the room auditing, which happened a lot, I already sort of have pedestalized that person. They're further along than me, they know more than me. They have access to sacred pseudoscience that I have yet to, to hear about. So I think the pressure to progress for many of us, not, certainly not true for all, but for many people. Sort of in the ethers. Okay, I'm gonna do the next, level two, I'm gonna do the level three, I'm gonna do the level four. And each one of these is like $1,500 a pop. So I'm gonna keep progressing through those and I'm gonna be licensing as a teacher the whole time. They're gonna get my annual fee.

Tracy Stamper: 23:51

Candice Schutter: 23:52
And as I progress, I'm getting more benefit though, in terms of the practice. At least that's certainly how it feels in the moment. And I think that's a mixed bag for each person. It's different. and then like, again, looking at the long game here, so they're progressing, they're doing all these trainings. They get to the final, the fourth level, and there's other peripheral stuff they can do. But once they get to that fourth level, if they're invited to become a trainer, then they go through the trainer training. So once again, you are, you're sold another scroll. Like if you're a trainer, those benefits exponentially.

Tracy Stamper: 24:27
When one, one gets to the level of trainer, you've invested so much and you've been sold so much on the idea that it, for whatever reason, it seems to take on a new meaning, greater weight. So.

Candice Schutter: 24:41
A hundred percent. Well, and that's the sunk cost fallacy, right? It's like you've invested so much, like you turning your back on, it feels like crazy town.

Tracy Stamper: 24:49

Candice Schutter: 24:50
Thousands of hours and thousands of dollars and all the things. And you've received benefit. And then you're told, okay, you can become this other level trainer person and you can train teachers. And this is where I feel like it gets the most problematic, because this is where the free labor kicks in to high gear, I mean.

In episodes #8, 9, and 11, Tracy and I deconstruct language and the way it is most commonly used in culty environments. We examine how group think emerges through a shared way of thinking and speaking. And we talk about the impact it has on personal agency, when dogma becomes centered. This conversation spans three episodes where we discuss many things, including word salad, trance states, and thought terminating cliches.

Here's a quick peek.

So, Amanda Montell puts it very succinctly. She says: "Speech is the first thing we are willing to change about ourselves, and also the last thing we let go of." So this really speaks to the power that language has in terms of indoctrinating us. It's the first thing we're willing to change, the way that we talk, the way that we communicate. But it's also the last thing we let go of, which has certainly been the truth for me in like new age wellness world. It's hard for me to remember if it was like the first thing I changed about myself, but it definitely has been the hardest thing to let go of. Have you found that be true?

Tracy Stamper: 26:28
Absolutely, a hundred percent. Because it is such an immediate, immediate thing, the way we use our language, it's something we use daily. There are so many opportunities for all of this indoctrination or learning or education or whatever you wanna call it, to just make itself present without necessarily that being intentional so I'll.

Candice Schutter: 26:51
Right. It just kind of spills through.

Tracy Stamper: 26:53
It spills through and it can be unexpected. And all of a sudden I found myself saying something that I wasn't allowed to say 15 years ago. And all the inner workings around that. That's really interesting. It's the last thing to let go of. Wow.

Candice Schutter: 27:14
Hmm. She also says, which I thought this was potent, and this is based on research in the world of linguistics, which something called the theory of performativity, which she describes as: "Language does not simply describe or reflect who we are. It creates who we are." so the power of when somebody has the authority or we pay them to give us new language you know whatever it is. I also wanna reference Margaret Singer, who, it's crazy that we haven't really talked about her at all, cuz she's like one of the mamas in the world of cultic education. But in her book, which I'm not remembering the title of right now, I will link to it. She talks about something called naturalistic trance induction. It's academic, but basically it's, psychotherapist determined many years ago how you can actually bring people into like a hypnotic trance state without actually saying, "okay, I'm gonna hypnotize you now. I'm gonna count down from 10." That you can employ certain ways of engaging that create sort of a hypnotic trance state in people and shut down critical thinking just naturally. And one of the things she says, there's a lot about this, and maybe I'll put a link to some of the text about this, but I just, one thing I wanted to comment on is just, I'll just read you this quote. "It is the naturalistic trance induction that is likely to occur in cults, thought reform groups, and some new age groups." Here is the important sentence. "Most leaders of these groups probably do not consider what they are doing as trance induction." So we mimic our teachers and we're creating greater susceptibility without realizing it. And if we don't understand that the people that we're influencing are being altered to a point where they don't really, they can't really sort through the word salad when we're just like riffing and we're like, oh, this is sort of meaningless. That they're perhaps literalizing it, that they're adding meaning to it that doesn't exist. That, that there's a responsibility when we speak in these certain ways and when we employ these certain techniques that we need to be aware of and we need to understand this, how these sort of dynamics work. And it's not just a simple like, oh, everyone should just keep track of their own personal agency. Like it's personal responsibility. It's personal power. Like it's not on me. That's a really dangerous perspective to have around this kind of thing and the way that it can show up. Yeah.

Tracy Stamper: 29:48
And the potential for harm when not either knowing or acknowledging or caring that that is the effect that our learned behaviors can have. That's a tremendous responsibility.

Candice Schutter: 30:05
It is. Yeah.

Tracy Stamper: 30:08
So much potential for harm there.

Candice Schutter: 30:14
And during this conversation, we also talk about how none of this is exclusive to the Org. In episode 11, each of us share about different times in other new age wellness spaces, where we were discouraged from questioning and critical thinking.

Tracy Stamper: 30:32
But it was just such a wild experience. How my words coming from a very innocent, naive place. I just wanted to figure it out through critical thinking. There was not room for critical thinking in that circle. I became a threat by asking a genuine question and all hell broke loose. Apparently they spent the rest of the day processing my leaving and half of the people who were there couldn't believe how awful this man was to me, that he kicked me out. And then the other half were like, what the hell was she doing? Why was she being such a rebel rouser? Why couldn't she just? So it was just a really interesting example of what we're talking about.

Candice Schutter: 31:20
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you think about those, that second group of people, what came to mind when you were saying that, the phrase that came to mind was, why couldn't she just trust the process? Right? And like this is.

Tracy Stamper: 31:33

Candice Schutter: 31:33
Like one of the issues that I have with dogma so much is when we rely on dogma, it inherently creates less critical thinking because we become sort of, like the dogma has the answers. And then if the dogma doesn't, which is what I felt like, you know, to go back to my example. I know for sure that the person who I had the relationship with, who was a teacher and a guide who's very gifted by the way, was doing the best she could. And also that she genuinely believed that she was helping me. And that's based on what she'd been taught by her teachers. And the lineage goes really far back in this case. And just because the lineage goes far back, that doesn't mean that it's correct. It also doesn't mean that it's not culty. It doesn't mean that it's got some greater authority. Because it really, actually, when you're dealing with systemic oppression, that's actually kind of alarming that it goes back that far. You know, like, I mean, if you really think about it, the world was a different place when you know. But like that, that when she was trying to help me, she was using the tools that she had at her disposal and I kept stepping outside of that. "What about this?" Just like you did with this person. "Well, what if I don't believe that I caused my depression?" Well, you kind of have to fall in within the bounds of the dogma. Or I don't know what to do with you. Because if you, this is where the cognitive dissonance plays such a huge part, if you force me to step outside of my dogma, then I might have to change what I believe. And talk about alarms going off. The alarms are going off big time for the folks who are really attached to the dogma. They're like, no, critical thinking must be bad. That must be it. That must be what it is. Oh, wait, I would never say it that way. And this person would never say it that way either. Yet the teachings say that. They totally say that. Just in really flowery, different kinds of language. Critical thinking, problem. Transcend the ego, the mind, the get outta your head. Like you know, all of it. So I feel like in this instance, the example that you gave, it's just the same thing operating in a different way. I have this process, it's well defined. I feel like I've supported it with my own sort of 'science' and you just challenged one of the core premises. And I would have to dismantle the whole thing if I actually had this conversation with you. So you're out.

Tracy Stamper: 34:03

Candice Schutter: 34:13
Deconstructing dogma episodes #12 and 13 feature a two-part exploration of insular group culture when combined with culty dogma, how it isolates us. And can subtly yet profoundly erode our connection to the everyday world. And we take a look at how isolating it can be when we are unable to voice our frustrations and speak openly and critically within the group itself. It's a culty phenomenon known as triple isolation.

Are you eating ice?

Tracy Stamper: 34:48
Oh yeah.

Candice Schutter: 34:51
This is a behind the scenes peek. I don't ever tell her that I'm gonna include these. I just push record and then you guys get to see it.

Tracy Stamper: 35:00
And then you get to listen to Tracy chewing ice, which is very attractive.

Candice Schutter: 35:04
Of course, I didn't push record when I was singing triple isolation. So,

Tracy Stamper: 35:09

Candice Schutter: 35:09
I'll include that just so we're, you know, even, even here. So needless to say, we're back and we are deconstructing triple isolation. I don't know why it's a song, it just feels like it should be. We've gotta lighten these topics, you know, we gotta keep it light.

Tracy Stamper: 35:28
Absolutely. These are not always the most like carefree, you know, topics. So.

Candice Schutter: 35:38
It's true.

Tracy Stamper: 35:38
We have to bring our own levity at times.

Candice Schutter: 35:41
Exactly. Exactly. And so let's define what triple isolation is and we'll see where this goes. So this terminology is from the work of Alexandra Stein, and I'll include a link to an article where she talks about this really, she just touches upon it briefly. So the foundation of Alexandra Stein's work is that she was in a cult herself, and she came out and decided through a series of events, she began studying these dynamics. And one of the things that sets her work apart is she became really fascinated in attachment theory and the work of John Bowlby. And also I might add Mary Ainsworth, who doesn't get mentioned a lot. Who is also a huge pioneer in terms of attachment theory. Their work on how attachment functions. And I talk about it in, oh, in the episode with Yamuna. The second one where I speak about disorganized detachment. I refer to Alexandra Stein's work and how she kind of had this aha when she studied attachment theory. You know, aside from these three types of attachment, which have been identified for years, secure, anxious, and avoidant; there's this disorganized attachment style that can develop for children and also in relationships, intimate relationships, and in culty environments. So, intro to episode 45 for that.

But that foundation of attachment theory is related to this. So we seek closeness to our, our safe haven, basically. We seek closeness to our safe haven, whoever that is. So whether it's a parent, a loved one, a leader, it's just something that happens, a whole other conversation about how that plays out. One of the things though, if that source point of our safe haven, whether it's a person or a community, has a certain framework that's culty, we'll just say it that way, it can create this experience of triple isolation. So I'm gonna read a quote from this article, and she's gonna use the word totalist. She sort of means like that high control environment. She writes: "people in totalist organizations are pressed so tightly together that their individuality is erased, as are any trusting interactions among them. Everyone is a friend, but true friendship is suppressed as a diversion from and a threat to attachment to the cause, the leader and the group. In fact, far from finding true comradeship or companionship followers face a triple isolation from the outside world, from each other within the closed system, and from their own internal dialogue where clear thinking about the group might arise." This is what we wanna look at today is these three pieces. This concept of triple isolation from the outside world, from one another in the closed system, and from their own internal dialogue... and the experience that I have had in multiple environments where I felt close to people.

Like I felt like I belonged more than I ever had in my life. I felt like I had purpose more than I ever had in my life. I felt like I had community more than I ever had in my life. And I also felt more alone than I ever had in my life. How does that work?

Tracy Stamper: 39:13
What is also coming to me is, that as a former representative of the Org, we actually specifically spoke to this, and I didn't even realize that until we just started talking. In my role as a trainer, I remember delivering a session and it was something about re-entry into the outside world.

Candice Schutter: 39:39
Right? That's in the, yeah, in the very first level. I remember that. Yeah.

Tracy Stamper: 39:42
Uhhuh. And I, to this day, I think about this a lot. I remember Marissa, back when I was in my first level training for the first time, I remember Marissa, I think Raul was there too, talking about how what we've just learned, the time we've just spent together is not gonna be understood by folks who haven't been through this intensive experience and offered us tools to help kind of bridge that gap. They talked about how we were gonna be reunited with our loved ones who we left for a week. Right?

Candice Schutter: 40:23
Which is such a weird thing if you really think about it.

Tracy Stamper: 40:26
It's such a weird thing. Like, it's such a weird thing. It's saying that, what I have just done for you is gonna change you so much that.

Candice Schutter: 40:39
So much that you're not even gonna be recognizable when you get home.

Tracy Stamper: 40:42
Yes. You're not gonna be able to relate to the people that you've created a life with and.

Candice Schutter: 40:48
Right. And at the Org we used to say, it's like chocolate you have to taste it. It was like a whole marketing campaign. And there's this sense of like, you can't understand it from the outside. Again, that's kind of another red flag, like why not?

Tracy Stamper: 41:03

Candice Schutter: 41:05
As Steve Hassan says, "anything legitimate stands up to scrutiny."

Tracy Stamper: 41:10
Say that again please.

Candice Schutter: 41:13
It's from Steve Hassen. I believe it was in the context of getting all this feedback where people would be like, why are you so critical of this organization? Trying to prove that this is a cult. And you're trying to prove that that's a cult. And he's like, I'm not trying to prove anything. Anything legitimate will stand up to scrutiny. And if when the scrutiny is applied, the light is shined on it, it starts to wilt and wither and it doesn't stand up, then something's off. So I really got this sense, I can't share this with other people cuz they won't get it. And I think in some ways leadership in these circles understands that it won't make sense to them because maybe it's not all that you've made it out to be.

Tracy Stamper: 41:50

Candice Schutter: 41:50
And if people have these critical conversations maybe they'll see that.

And perhaps the most critical piece in this two-part deconstruction is when we examine how cultic indoctrination separates us from our own internal guidance and a connection to autonomy and deeper truths.

Candice Schutter: 42:12
In the book, Cultish, Amanda Montell talks about isolation. And there's a quote where she just says, "bonding over shared misery simply not allowed." Like that's a characteristic of a culty environment. And that was definitely my experience in new age wellness in general. Um And obviously, you know, somebody could argue that I'm operating within systems, too. Like the cult recovery system. Systems are systems.

Tracy Stamper: 42:36
Mm-hmm. And what indoctrination comes from just that.

Candice Schutter: 42:40
From just that. And who it separates us from. And how it keeps us from connection and empathy and the ability to rewrite the end of the story. And I say that because when you're operating within a closed system, the story always goes the same way over and over again. Like it's never different. I mean, we see that looking at the Org and how it's happened. Like Yamuna listening and writing to me and being like, um, excuse me, you just told my story. Right?

Tracy Stamper: 43:08
Right. And how many times have you and I together and individually been contacted since this series started by someone who said some combination of the following things? I can't believe someone else saw things the same way I did. I had no idea that I wasn't the only one. I can't believe you're saying things that I haven't been able to articulate because I didn't have the words.

Candice Schutter: 43:39

Tracy Stamper: 43:39
I mean, it's just.

Candice Schutter: 43:40
And I never felt the permission to speak about them. And maybe they're not using that language, but there's this sense of like, oh, we can talk about that?

Tracy Stamper: 43:48
You can say?

Candice Schutter: 43:49
Rah rah, like.

Tracy Stamper: 43:51
Right? Like, oh. And just the, the sense of commonality is that we have all felt so alone.

Candice Schutter: 44:04

Tracy Stamper: 44:04
We have all been isolated.

Candice Schutter: 44:07
Yeah. Yeah.

Tracy Stamper: 44:09
Or isolated ourselves. I don't, I, you know, I don't wanna make it sound like so-and-so is doing, just the way that these things organically.

Candice Schutter: 44:17
It's just the way the structure has, what it, what it yields. It's like you put a seed in the ground, a certain thing grows. This is what happens.

So how does the environment itself separate us from our own internal dialogue? Let's look at that for a minute, just to.

Candice Schutter: 44:41
Now if you're a regular listener, you may remember that in the very last episode, #53, Monica and I promised to go even deeper. So in bonus episode 14, she and I discuss how to continue making meaning in our lives once we've done our best to divorce ourselves from all the dogma. And in this particular clip, we speak about what it's been like reclaiming possession of our full-spectrum humanity on the other side of culty experiences in new age wellness. And about the courage it takes to live wholeheartedly in a world that pretty much guarantees, chaos and uncertainty.

Monica Welty: 45:20
And I think part of what you're saying and what we're seeing in them is there is a certainty inside, right? Life is uncertain. It's mysterious. We don't know what's gonna happen. Tragedy, joy, whatever. But there's a certainty with, inside, and like maybe that's where.

Candice Schutter: 45:42

Monica Welty: 45:42
What, and what we're kind of talking about how we each personally have, are coming, you know, into our own more authentic process outside of these organizations, that it's like trusting ourselves is I know that there, there's gonna be some chaos out there. But the meaning that I'm making, the way that I'm constructing my building, not my scaffolding this time, right? Is that I am certain. That I can have debilitating anxiety, that I can have incredible grief, that I can have unbelievable joy, right? And that I remain certain inside myself. I, I don't know if that.

Candice Schutter: 46:26
Yeah, no, I think, I think it is. I think you're touching upon an important piece around why we reach for cult environments, relationships, and the need to control others is because of the insecurity we feel around ourselves internally in a way. And again, never always. But there's something around that sense of certainty in self. We might not be certain about like who we are exactly. Or la la la. But there is a sense of certainty, and I'm certain that there is, that I'm connected to some part of me that is untouchable.

Monica Welty: 47:00

Candice Schutter: 47:00
Like that's how it functions for me. It's like.

Monica Welty: 47:02

Candice Schutter: 47:03
When there's a crisis, it's like, Now there's lots of reasons why I'm good in crisis. It's because I grew up in chaos and there's a mixed bag there. And in these later years though, part of me is, and we talked about this in episode 29 cuz we were sort of still in the pandemic, how when the world, everyone was like, oh my God! Oh, I can't. What?! And we were like, oh, welcome to my world. Like, okay. Like seriously? Seriously? Like, I felt more at home in the world.

Monica Welty: 47:40

Candice Schutter: 47:41
Now that everyone was like, I'm feeling anxious. I'm like, okay. Well I've been feeling anxious every day of my life since I've existed. But that's happening. And only in recent years have I've been able to sense and feel into that, what I call the deeper self, like the part of that I'm certain that I can stay connected to this no matter what.

Monica Welty: 48:01

Candice Schutter: 48:01
Happens out there. And that I can trust this no matter that what happens out there. And you know, I haven't been tested to the degree that some people have. So I might look back on this recording in a few years and something might have gone wrong with my body and I'll be like, I thought I did, but I, but like I fe, I can at least taste it.

Monica Welty: 48:21
Yeah. And we're not trying, and this is, we're not trying to get anywhere.

Candice Schutter: 48:25

Monica Welty: 48:26
There's no, there there. Again, we're not gonna get to a place where we're always fucking certain inside ourselves. Right?

Candice Schutter: 48:33
Right. Fuck enlightenment. Fuck enlightenment. I'm so over that word. And, and this is gonna probably piss somebody off, but like, fuck that. It's not.

Monica Welty: 48:41
No, we're not. No, we are human animals. If we were here for enlightenment, we wouldn't be humans. Like this is what we're here for, right? Is this grappling, is to not know. To be in that, in that sense of mystery because we just don't. There are things that we cannot have answers to. And I think that that's so important when we're talking about this, because I can feel this like, now what's the answer now? Now that we're on the outside, what's the answer? Now we have to present everyone with a thing that they can hold onto. Right?

Candice Schutter: 49:18

Monica Welty: 49:19
And it's like, no. It's the grappling and there's no doubt, Candice, that you're gonna get hit sideways coming up at some point, right?

Candice Schutter: 49:29

Monica Welty: 49:30
And that you're, and that you're gonna feel that like desperation and that vulnerability and that those feelings that you don't even think you can handle or imagine, right? And then there's still gonna be something like

Candice Schutter: 49:56
Okay, next up. Tracy and I had loads of fun with our longtime friend in episodes 15 and 16. It's an insightful and lively discussion with Maria Skinner, beautiful human, former trainer at the Org, and an active contributor on Patreon and in the After The Org Facebook group. Together, the three of us share some truly mind blowing stories, and discuss all the many mixed messages we received around transparency while in the inner circle at the Org.

In this first clip, Maria speaks about the cognitive dissonance that she experienced working as a high level recruiter for the practice. And her retrospective realizations around it all.

Maria Skinner: 50:40
Well, bringing people in, one of the reasons that I left was that I didn't wanna keep sending people into that environment. Because I felt like ultimately it was gonna reflect on me, and it did. People would go and meet the crew and say, why didn't you tell me about this? Um, and I felt bad. I felt like, oh. And then I watch all these people in these cult films about cults saying, I was like, bringing the lambs to the slaughter.

Candice Schutter: 51:13
Right. Yeah.

Maria Skinner: 51:14
It's not really a slaughter, but it is. Energetically it felt really bad.

Candice Schutter: 51:20
Mm-hmm. Yeah. There's harm. Harm is harm.

Tracy Stamper: 51:25
Harm is harm.

Candice Schutter: 51:26
Yeah there's levels to it but harm is harm and And then we take a closer look at something I like to refer to as performative vulnerability. And I, I think that on this issue of transparency and boundaries and all these different ways that it's functioning, which does feel chaotic, purposefully. Or maybe not purposefully, but that's just the way it's showing up. I think this kind of touches on a little bit of what we've talked about, and I think we can take it further though, this idea of performative vulnerability.

Maria Skinner: 52:00

Candice Schutter: 52:01
I've seen, and I've been guilty of myself. I think it's, a few things are happening. Like when we go into these personal development spaces, there's this encouragement to self-inquiry, and to do all these things. And I'm having realizations about my body and my sensations and all these things. And so when we open that door, sometimes we automatically swing to the other end. Like we've been silenced and then we start oversharing, right? So that's a thing that just can happen when we're coming out of, into understanding and out of silence. Which I'm sure has even happened over the course of this series, right? It's part of the, the recovery, the healing process from anything. And so we're in these spaces where we're sharing. And then also where the, another buzzword in recent years is vulnerability. It's like a buzzword. And so I've actually seen, and again, I've done this as well... people like leading a class or a retreat or whatever, where the facilitator is almost like performing vulnerability. Like, I'm gonna share all these parts of who I am because it's gonna make me relatable.

Maria Skinner: 53:07
Right, right, right.

Candice Schutter: 53:09
And there's something that's useful in that, but it's really always a question of, I feel like, especially when we're dealing with questions around, is this culty or not? Isn't really like should that person or shouldn't that person share that thing? The real question is what is it in service to, their sharing of it? Like is this an authentic moment of transparency? Or is this to create a sense of attachment?

Tracy Stamper: 53:38

Candice Schutter: 53:40
To, to sort of, um, hook and the, the, the person doing it might not even be aware. I mean, when I look back on times when I've done this, I wasn't aware that I was doing it, but it was a manipulation of sorts.

Tracy Stamper: 53:52

Maria Skinner: 53:52

Candice Schutter: 53:54
Like, look how humble and warm and fuzzy and approachable I am. I'm gonna share this thing. I didn't think about the questions that you're asking, which is why this conversation's so beautiful, Maria. Cause it's like, I didn't think about is this appropriate? Or, you know, does this person want to know this? Maybe I should ask them before I unload this. Um, so I don't know, like what are your thoughts about this performative vulnerability thing? Does that resonate with either of you?

Maria Skinner: 54:20
Oh yeah. Well, so here's the juxtaposition, right? So there were so many of those instances of like too much information about things that I thought why? But not enough information about other things.

Candice Schutter: 54:34

Maria Skinner: 54:35
Such as, why are you like telling us that there's no money and yet there's this other thing going on? Not that, maybe that wasn't any of our business, but I feel like part of being part of the company, the way we were and especially the trainers, is that we had a stake in what was happening. And there was so much, or things like every time we went for a training and they would reintroduce all of us to everybody who was new in the office. And we would ask, well, where did that person go? And there was no information about that. So, so there was a lot of information about stuff that felt like a distraction. And very little information about things that actually we really cared about.

Tracy Stamper: 55:22

Candice Schutter: 55:24

These final two clips are from a conversation that just recently dropped where I sit down with Sybil Nance for a powerful two-parter. Sybil has worked for three decades in the world of yoga. As a teacher, studio owner, teacher trainer, and yoga therapist. This conversation is super rich and it's of a timely nature as it relates to the 'cult'ure series rollout. So I've actually just recently decided to share it on the main feed as well. So next week, you'll be able to listen to it here in almost its entirety.

Here's a quick sample.

Which brings in this, this term that I found a few months ago, performative trauma therapy.

Sybil Nance: 56:17

Candice Schutter: 56:18
Being called out in these environments where the teacher's position and, and sense of worth and authority is sort of contingent upon this person having a breakthrough.

Sybil Nance: 56:27

Candice Schutter: 56:28
So they're pushing.

Sybil Nance: 56:30
They're pushing. They're pushing to have it go somewhere that then either through a yoga practice or in a shavana, this person will cry a lot and then feel better. And then again, it's attributed to the teacher and the, the yoga environment. Which is again, that, that's the part where I feel sad because I have had experiences where people have had, you know, emotional experiences. Have I given some of that over to, Yes. It's just, isn't yoga amazing? It's so beautiful how we get to work through these things? Yeah. I've played homage to that as well. Um, for sure. Yeah.

Candice Schutter: 57:06
Well, and part of it is, I mean, to speak to my own experience, it's been my own learning curve around realizing what I thought was happening when I learned more.

Sybil Nance: 57:15

Candice Schutter: 57:15
I realize it was actually something else entirely.

Sybil Nance: 57:17

Candice Schutter: 57:18
Right. I'm like, oh, this was principle number, such and such, or this was such and such. And then the more that I learn and, and grow and develop, then I realize, oh, like that's confirmation bias. That's all that is.

Sybil Nance: 57:30

Candice Schutter: 57:30
I have this desire to attribute it to this, and so I see it as evidence of it.

Sybil Nance: 57:35
Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Candice Schutter: 57:36
And I think that I'm, I'm sure I'm still guilty of this from time to time.

Sybil Nance: 57:40

Candice Schutter: 57:40
It's just the human condition.

Sybil Nance: 57:41
Yes. That confirms what Yes, yes.

Candice Schutter: 57:42
That confirms what I, what I had hoped for it to confirm.

Sybil Nance: 57:45
Right. So I hope I see it. And also, can I, and that's my question, have I manipulated people in the way, in the direction of my own bias, of being able to get to where I wanted to, to reaffirm what it was that I thought to be true? Yeah.

Candice Schutter: 57:58
What you just said is so important.

Sybil Nance: 58:02
Don't ask me to say it again.

Candice Schutter: 58:03

Sybil Nance: 58:04
I don't remember.

Candice Schutter: 58:04
Ok. I'm gonna paraphrase.

Sybil Nance: 58:05
So, ok. Good.

Candice Schutter: 58:06
Have I manipulated,

Sybil Nance: 58:08

Candice Schutter: 58:08
Have I manipulated in order to get the result that I'm seeking, basically?

Sybil Nance: 58:12

Candice Schutter: 58:12
And, and, and how... can we be that honest with ourselves?

Sybil Nance: 58:16
Yes. Yes. And I can say yes, I have done it because that's part of my yoga, my yoga training was that. My yoga therapy training was to exactly validate and affirm these principles that we've learned. Do it through their body. Make them see it.

Candice Schutter: 58:31

Sybil Nance: 58:33
Yes. I left several others left. We got together about a year and a half after that. And, and got together and had conversations. We went down and did repair work with all the people we worked with.

Candice Schutter: 58:47
Oh, wonderful.

Sybil Nance: 58:47
So we, we did do that work. And many of them were quite damaged. And so we had to apologize. We had to own our part. See my voice going. We had to do the work. I had to do that, and apologize. And tell them how horrid it was. And I was getting it from above. Which doesn't excuse it. But they had to know that I was getting it from above. And we pass it on. And I am so sorry.

Candice Schutter: 59:15
Mm-hmm. Wow. Thank you for sharing that.

Sybil Nance: 59:19

Candice Schutter: 59:28
Tune in next week to hear more from Sybil. And listen to the full episodes of any of the content featured here over at patreon.com/thedeeperpulse.

And just a heads up that next up, Tracy and I will be sitting down with friend and mindful movement facilitator, Susan McCulley. Susan spent two decades affiliated with the Org, but she asked to join us to deconstruct culty fitness in general. To talk about how we can all do it better. We go all sorts of places in this conversation. We explore issues around body image and ableism. We talk about somatic dominance. And how to create movement spaces that offer both autonomy and inclusivity. As of now this two-part conversation with Susan is scheduled to roll out over on Patreon on May 12th and 19th.

And once again, you can access it and all the rest of the goodness at patreon.com/thedeeperpulse.

And remember, every single bit of every donation supports podcast production. Each and every episode featured on this podcast feed takes hours to create. Writing, recording, editing, and producing. And so what I'm hoping is that providing extras on the side will inspire some of you to give back. To help me continue to do this work and to eventually, and God-willing, at some point cover my overhead costs.

Podcasting is pretty much always a labor of love. Until you bring in advertisers, which is something that ideally I'd very much like to avoid.

So head on over to Patreon if you want more, or if you have the means to give back.

Another way you can support me is to rate, review or subscribe to the podcast on your favorite listening platform.

Either way, I hope that you'll tune in again next week.

Until next time.


© The Deeper Pulse, Candice Schutter