Out of Practice

Last night I began reading a new blog on the integral scene, Integral News and Views, where I found an interview with Robert Augustus Masters. Masters is an integral writer and therapist who places emphasis on living an integral life. His eloquence is extraordinary and he gives some of the clearest descriptions of just what being integral means to our lives.

Being truly integral means, among other things, developing intimacy with everything — everything! — that constitutes us. A genuinely integral consciousness lives such intimacy both conceptually and nonconceptually.
An integral approach works with our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions, level upon level, consistently taking all of it into account, without losing touch with the totality that includes and pervades it all. This means that everything relevant is considered in as inclusive, cohesive, and useful a manner as possible.

This is an important reminder to those of us who are engaged in building an integral life and forming an integral life practice. An ILP, however it is structured, takes into consideration each of those “physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social dimensions” of our lives and strengthens our capacities in each of them. When not following an ILP, it’s very easy to become wrapped up in aspects of our lives that seem to dominate.

As a student, the cognitive part of my life is always demanding a lot of time and attention, and my physical well-being suffers when I don’t take steps to include resistance training and walking in my life. Likewise, when relational demands come to dominate, my meditation practice diminishes. One of the great challenges in living an integral life is being mindful of the many dimensions and capacities we have and must work to strengthen if we wish to live at the edge of our potentials. And then comes the actual work of practice.

To think with greater clarity, to love with greater skill, to feel with discernment and authenticity, to hone our bodies and enrich our environment, none of these should come at the expense of the other and each should be given time, effort and acknowledgment. If we are to better ourselves and our world in meaningful, lasting and exciting ways we must live integrally. Being integral demands a lifestyle that addresses our fragmentation, as Masters clarifies:

An integral approach is not going to be much of a reality for us if we ourselves are not already living, to a significant degree, in an integral fashion. Part of what is needed is a clear recognition of where we are not integral, not in healthy relationship to some aspect of ourselves, not in integrity. Facing our fragmentation rather than trying to rise above it or only superficially deal with it is a step toward integrity. “Integral” is a bit like “love,” in that both terms are actually quite profound in their meaning, but are often used too readily or superficially. The intention to be integral is not in itself integral.

Also from Robert Augustus Masters is “What is ‘Integral’?“, a call, in part, to “do whatever is needed to make ‘integral’ a fitting term for how we are actually living.”

4 thoughts on “Out of Practice

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  1. I would like to explore these theories further.

    My psychology instructor asked us to describe how we defined “intelligence.” My response was similar to what I imagine an integralist would say. I emphasized the importance of striking a balance between IQ, EQ, physical, spiritual, and, well everything, “the all.”

    She looked at me kind of funny, and I felt sort of weird, because I was trying to get at the root of something, but I just didn't know what at the time. Having read this, I believe now that you have steered me onto a path I must explore. I have heard the term “integral living” used several times before, but never took the time to question what that really was.

    Thanks for this.

  2. Dave,

    I'm glad I could direct you toward exploring integral living. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss anything related to this.

  3. I would like to explore these theories further.

    My psychology instructor asked us to describe how we defined “intelligence.” My response was similar to what I imagine an integralist would say. I emphasized the importance of striking a balance between IQ, EQ, physical, spiritual, and, well everything, “the all.”

    She looked at me kind of funny, and I felt sort of weird, because I was trying to get at the root of something, but I just didn't know what at the time. Having read this, I believe now that you have steered me onto a path I must explore. I have heard the term “integral living” used several times before, but never took the time to question what that really was.

    Thanks for this.

  4. Dave,

    I'm glad I could direct you toward exploring integral living. Feel free to drop me a line if you want to discuss anything related to this.

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