Hey curious cats!! If you’ve ever wondered what The Landmark Forum is really like, I’m here to give you the real deal.
What is The Landmark Forum? According to their site, it’s a course designed to bring about positive, permanent shifts in the quality of your life—in just three days. You’ll experience a new and unique kind of freedom, effectiveness, and power—the freedom to be at ease in any circumstance, a new effectiveness in areas that really matter to you, and the power to make what you’re committed to into a reality.
I completed the Landmark Forum this week. I feel very compelled to write this blog because I’ve been resisting (fiercely resisting) Landmark for about 5 years. Countless people have approached me about it, suggested I do it, even offered to pay for me to do it. I heard so many things about how “it would change my life,” but never really got any real insight into what was going on there. I also heard all kinds of crazy things about what it was like: that it’s a cult, that you have to talk about intimate details about your life on a microphone and then you get yelled at, that they force you to call all of your exes, that you aren’t allowed to leave the room to go to the bathroom, that they force you to take out your credit card and register for more courses.
As you can see, I had a million ideas about Landmark. I constantly judged people in my mind for being “soooo Landmarky” and I was completely sure I didn’t want to do it. Even more importantly, nobody could “make me do it.” #rebel
But as part of my 2014 Comfort Zone Crusade….I decided to register for Landmark.
Why!? Well, I finally met someone whose experience really inspired me. We were out having dinner and he started sharing some of the ways he looks at life and the ways he works through different struggles. I was completely mesmerized by his outlook on life. He was committed to living a life of sheer excellence. Committed to breaking through his own comfort zone to transform what he thought were his limitations. Committed to being unreasonable in order to make his dreams come true. He spoke so confidently about the possibilities that were available to him, and to me.
I told him about an issue I was struggling with. He talked me through it in a way I’d never even considered before. He showed me how to break out of the stories I was living in, how to pull myself out of the sea of emotions I felt like I was drowning in. Something immediately lifted, even if just slightly.
“Whoa. Where did you learn all of this!?” I asked, with my eyes wide.
“Have you heard of Landmark?”
It was the first time I’d actually felt lit up on the inside when hearing about Landmark.
I left the dinner feeling kind of high. Like anything was possible, and that what he said had already changed my life. Really. Suddenly, a song quote popped into my head…“you have to try it if you’re ever really gonna know.” I decided it was time to blast through my comfort zone and see what all the hype was about. Honestly? I wanted what he had.
I went online and registered, and I immediately started judging myself, and thinking about what people in my life would think. OMG, I can’t believe I actually signed up for Landmark, who AM I? (Why was I making it SUCH a big freaking deal? I don’t know, it seems insane now).
Landmark seems to be the the type of thing that everyone has a million questions about and nobody really knows what goes on until they experience it. Kinda like Burning Man, maybe.
So now that I’m on the other side, here are some answers to the questions I had before Landmark. If you have others, please, ask in the comments!! Please note I’m not affiliated with Landmark in any way and I wasn’t asked to write this blog.
I’ve attempted to put together a balanced overview of the good and the not-so-good. As T.I. would say… “I got love for the game but hey, I’m not in love with all of it.”
Is Landmark a cult?
The answer to that is no, but I just freaking LOVE when people dismiss things as cults, it’s funny, like what is that about? I really like immersing myself in things like that, I love investigating, especially when people say something’s culty. Landmark is taught by lots of different teachers, it’s a course. They call it a “curriculum for living” with information you can choose to incorporate into your life or not. You pay to learn, and to be “coached” by a Landmark coach for the weekend on how to have positive breakthroughs in different areas of your life — and then you leave. You can take more courses if you want. You can never step foot into Landmark again if you want. It’s really not that different from going on a retreat where a specific teacher is sharing their specific teachings, and then you leave and decide what to do with those teachings. Do some people get SUPER into it and end up following the teachings in a more dedicated way than others? Of course. Yes. As with any teaching or curriculum. Some people devote their lives to it and speak constantly in “Landmark lingo,” and that may seem nutty to you (I know it seemed totally weird to me!!) Most people, however, take what they want, take what seems useful for their lives, and leave the rest behind. If you’re a strong person who can make your own choices, you should really have nothing to worry about.
Do they really keep you in a room for 13 hours a day, for 3 days straight?
Yes. The days are long. You’ll probably get tired. I was exhausted by the end. The deal: you are in a large room with lots of chairs and a stage where the course leader teaches from. There were 165 people in my course. There are Landmark signs hanging around the room that say things like “Transformation: The Genesis of a New Realm of Possibility” and “A new view and experience of life emerges as constraints from the past disappear.” (Reminded me of the signs hanging up in 12 step meetings, actually).
The day begins at 9am and ends roughly around 10pm, it may go a little longer. There are breaks every 2.5 hours. There are a few 30 minute breaks throughout the day, and then a 90 minute dinner break around 6pm where you can leave and go out to eat. During the breaks, you are given assignments to do. These assignments are suggested and encouraged, but not forced. You can do whatever you want.
A good amount of the time is spent learning about the concepts that Landmark teaches for living life powerfully and living a life you love, which I personally thought were really helpful. The rest of the time is spent with people sharing in front of the crowd and working through whatever they want to create a breakthrough in.
Can you eat and drink?
In the actual classroom, you can only drink water. There is a break room where you can eat food during breaks. I suggest you bring something to eat during the 30 minute breaks, but you are allowed to leave and go get food quickly if you want. I brought Larabars (I don’t think I’ve eaten that many Larabars in a 3 day period, ever)! Oh, also bring your phone charger! They have charging stations and you’ll want to be fully juiced.
They suggest you don’t drink alcohol or do any drugs for the duration of the course.
Is it true that you’re not allowed to leave the room to go to the bathroom?
No. I heard that before I went, but it’s not true at all. You can leave to go to the bathroom as many times as you want, without restriction. I will say, however, that they tell you the more time you spend out of the room, the less you will get out of the course. I honestly do agree with that, I wanted to be in the room every possible moment so I wouldn’t miss an insight or someone’s breakthrough.
Do they really force you to get up and speak on the microphone about your personal life?
Not at all. They encourage people to raise their hands to get up and share what they are struggling with so they can be coached in front of the group, which helps everybody. If you don’t raise your hand, you won’t be called on. Even though public speaking makes me insanely terrified, I did choose to get up on the mic and get coached through something. Believe me, when you’re in the room, you WANT to raise your hand, because it’s fun. I never thought I’d say that. I was so scared before I got up there on the mic. But after a day in the Forum I realized that everyone’s scared and everyone wants to look good in front of everyone else. And truth be told, I really did want to be coached and possibly have a breakthrough with a situation. It wasn’t that big of a deal once I did it.
Do they really yell at you and “break you down” on stage in front of everyone?
Haha. Well, listen. They don’t YELL at you, but I would definitely call it tough love. In an awesome way. My course leader was hilarious and honest.
Here’s what happened when I went up to the mic:
I stood up and told a story about a relationship in my life, something I’ve been working through for a long time. This relationship is one of the main reasons I went to Landmark. I spilled all the beans about it to 165 people staring at me.
The course leader’s response? “Your life is absurd.”
Me, laughing: “I know. It’s so gross.”
Course leader: “You’re living in a Disney movie fairytale or a country western love song or something. Your problems are way too small. You’re just not up to anything big enough in the world. You need to solve bigger problems. You’re like a leaf in the wind with this person, you let a fantasy dictate everything you do. It’s holding you back from actually taking responsibility for living the life you really want. What could you create in your life, and in the world, if you stopped living in Disneyland? If you didn’t spend all your time focusing on this, what possibilities would you want to create for yourself?”
Me: “Yeah. I know. Well, I want to create the possibility of being free, strong, powerful, authentic, expressive, creative, sexy….and totally unmessablewith.” (unmessablewith is a term the course leader made up: the quality of being able to stand in the face of any circumstance and generate possibility instead of being thrown off course).
Course leader: “And THAT, my dear, is powerfully attractive.” (Hoots of agreement from men in the audience).
Then we went back and forth a little more on it, about the actions to take in order to create those possibilities. So, yeah, it definitely felt like “tough love,” but she wasn’t yelling at me. In fact, it was endearing. We were all laughing. And honestly, I agreed with her. She simplified things down enough for me to be like, dude, snap out of it.
I won’t and can’t comment on anyone else specifically, but a lot of the topics were MUCH more serious than mine and everyone experienced profound realizations by being coached up there. Yeah, a lot of people cried.
I went to Landmark wanting to work through a certain situation, but I ended up feeling like I had a clean slate for creating whatever I want in every area of my life.
Do they force you to make uncomfortable phone calls to people in your life?
Again, there is no forcing, but they do encourage you to make phone calls to people on the breaks and to redefine what’s possible in relationships where you’re struggling. People reconnected with family members they hadn’t spoken to in 10 years, were honest with their husbands and wives about things they’d been lying about, and more and more. When they shared about it afterwards, it was like a huge weight had been lifted off of their shoulders that they’d been carrying around for so long. It was pretty beautiful and magical, to be honest.
You don’t have to make phone calls. I didn’t call the person I mentioned. But I did make calls to my family to tell them how much I appreciated them, and I called a couple of friends to tell them some of the things I realized, and I thanked them for supporting me. I also made calls just to touch base with people who weren’t in the Forum, so I could snap out of Landmark-ville for a second.
Aren’t they SUPER salesy and weird? Don’t they force you to sign up for additional programs and bring everyone you know to register for the Forum?
Yes, they have very aggressive marketing tactics. Nobody is forced to do anything, though. If, like I mentioned earlier, you feel capable of making your own choices, you can walk out of the room without signing up for anything else. Nobody is going to tie you down. I knew going into the Forum that they were going to be very salesy about me bringing friends to register and about getting me to register for the Advanced Course. I made the decision before I went that I wouldn’t sign up for anything while I was there (they encourage you to sign up while you’re there, of course, which is aggressive but probably a smart business move on their part). I made the choice to go home and let it marinate for a few days, because I promised myself I would. Taking that space felt good to me, and ultimately I did sign up for the Advanced Course. From what I’ve heard from a bunch of friends who have done it, the Forum is about chipping away at all the BS that’s holding you back in life, and the Advanced Course is about what you can create in the world, and reaching a new level of mastery in every area that’s important to you. And if you know me, you know that shit is like crack to me. #forreals
The whole thing kinda reminded me of the Life Extension scene from Vanilla Sky. So creepy I know, but Vanilla Sky is one of my favorite movies of all time, so that’s actually kinda AWESOMESAUCE.
“Your life will continue as a realistic work of art, painted by you minute to minute. You’ll live it with the romantic abandon of a summer day. Or a great movie. Or a pop song you always loved. Savor the knowledge that everything is simply improved. It’s all just around the corner. A living dream.” Haha!! I’m soooo nuts.
Do you become a robot or alien after attending Landmark?
Maybe. But that’s really irrelevant.
Landmark is a rollercoaster. You will probably hate parts of it. You will probably experience moments of ecstasy. You might feel your mind get completely quiet for longer periods of time than it ever has before. It is super trippy and at times you might feel like you’re in complete bonkersville.
It might make you think very differently about reality. It might help you drop some of your BS and live life more powerfully.
It might do nothing for you at all. You might just fall asleep in your chair or disagree with every word you hear.
I really got a lot out of it, and I’m glad I did it. I met some great people. My mind was blown by some of the concepts. I feel like I can actually get onto the court of life and be a real player instead of being in the stands. And I’ve done a LOT of self-helpy stuff in my day.
Would I recommend it to everyone? No, I can’t be the one to decide that. If you feel inspired to attend, I say try it. If not, or if you think this whole thing is completely weird and nutbally, don’t do it.
The absolute most important thing I’d tell someone considering it is this: if you aren’t willing to go in with a completely open mind and the full understanding that you have the power of choice, or if you’re going to be bitter and complain about the hours and the marketing tactics, it’s probably not gonna be your thing.
Anything else you wanna know? Let’s hear it. Comment below and I’ll answer honestly. Don’t be shy.