My name is Iva Paska. I was always drawn to existential questions such as
Why all of this?
What is the meaning of life…(considering that…)?How to live in contemporary society?
What is the meaning of certain hard experiences in life? …The question which over time evolved into – Should all experiences be standardized or are they forced to be? What about the interpretation of those experiences society feels are not standardized?
In the meantime, I have started to look at this as a call and started seeking answers. This web-page is the result of my now already 15-year long search. I am passing on only the content that I found useful. I am trying to stay away from cliche new-age ideas that promise instant happiness and seek instead meaningful knowledge coming from long-standing traditions of mankind, rooted in philosophical and scientific knowledge.
As for me, I hold a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary humanities and social sciences, the field of Sociology, finished at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana. My sociological interests are intimate relationships from the sociological perspective, the epistemology of mental health and sociology of media. I also finished Transactional Analysis 101. I attended psychoanalytic courses and existential therapy courses at Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb run by Larisa Buhin where I further fell in love with existentialism.
I always felt drawn to existential philosophy, Bateson, systemic work and different ways of thinking about therapy and mental health, but the opportunity of a brief encounter with recovery approaches in 2014. is what opened my horizon in a totally new way and I got acquainted with what I consider constructive and meaning-making ways of thinking and dealing with mental health, especially experiences which do not correlate to mainstream ideas about mental phenomena.
From other trainings, I finished “Logotherapy in Upbringing and Education”, accredited by the Croatian Agency for Upbringing and Education, a DBT Legacy course of the Behavioral Tech Institute and DBT Skills course and I am currently studying NLP with the International Association of the NLP Institutes. In my search and experience, I also look into Zen Buddhism and other Hinduistic influences, combining it with my experience and knowledge.
I have organized Existential circles for a brief period of time, that served as places for existential givens we usually don’t have time or space to address in everyday life – such as meaning or wider exploration of the human condition. I co-organized Feministic circle in Booksa in Zagreb. I worked for and participated in the work of NGOs in Zagreb and Varaždin dealing with community development and mental health. Currently, I am working at the University North.
I like combining all the things I have learned or experienced within different approaches to provide a meaning-making framework for our experiences.
The question of meaning can come to us in certain times or experiences in life, especially in contemporary society. This society has in its instrumentalization somehow forgot about the human being and his symbolic needs. It often reduces us to production or goal-serving units, and this can bring feelings of anxiety and alienation to the forefront. It can, however, also offer an opportunity to start questioning our experience of life, death, anxiety, suffering, yearning for meaning.
It is social science and humanities that taught me how to think about human contextually. This is also a feature of existentialist tradition. For existentialist tradition, human beings are not just a fixed set of characteristics, but they are also dependent on the context, experience, intentionality, and always in a process. This is how I perceive human beings and this is important when opposed to today’s prevalent view of human beings which is as static and isolated minds of characteristics predefined genetically.
This perspective lacks understanding that we are inevitably always “beings-in-the-world”, to quote Martin Heidegger. This offers totally different perspective on human struggles and meaning. All of my education, struggles, and experiences have put me on a quest for answers which has offered me more freedom and meaning in my existence.
With this website, I aspire to further transfer the ideas and practices that aided me in my quest, hoping that someone else will find them useful as well.