Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How To Start An Integral Salon, Part 1

As one of the original four co-founders of SeattleIntegral, and as the moderator for the Seattle Ken Wilber Meetup before that, I know something about starting and building an Integral Salon. In about three years time, SeattleIntegral has grown from four original members to over 140 members today.

Not the largest i-salon in the world (London is bigger, and NYC's KW Meetup is, too), it appears safe to say that SeattleIntegral is having more impact in the integral world than any other salon. There are a lot of reasons for this, not the least of which is the heart of it's members and their willingness, and eagerness, to engage from the highest perspectives possible. Although important in setting the context for this article, that's really a separate conversation.

Today, we have our own website (version 1.0), an online discussion group, and have spawned several smaller groups, which we refer to as "sub-groups," including:
  • The SeattleIntegral Ken Wilber Meetup, which serves as a new-members' orientation and open discussion
  • An Integral Spirituality Group, studying Ken's new book Integral Spirituality
  • An Integral Psychology Group
  • An IOS (integral Operating System) study group
  • A 2-year old ITP/ILP practice group
  • iCAN, The Integral Cable Access Network
  • and the Core Group, dedicated to leading the salon into the future
We have just started a monthly newsletter, maintain a calendar of events with some of the most amazing events and more to come, and are always looking for the opportunity to start new groups under the community umbrella of SeattleIntegral.

Over the course of a few postings, I'm going to lay out one path (certainly not the only path) on how to start and build an Integral Salon. Of course, how it happens in your community might be totally different than how we did it here in Seattle. I can't think of any American city that has a larger Green-emergent-to-Teal/Turquoise population than Seattle. ...and where there's green, there's emergence. You might be in Kansas or Ohio, or even South Africa, or Palestine...or anywhere. Perhaps learning how we've done it will inspire you to follow, modify, learn from, build on, and better what we've done.

We can only hope. But remember, as I said in my previous post, Ken says that 5% of the population is at second-tier, and that it will be 10% in the next few years. Your job, as a salon leader, is to provide a space where you and these people can come together in community, and a context in which their, and your, consciousness can grow and expand.

To be continued.......

See the T-shirt that has this posts' graphic here - designed by Gary Stamper

Why Liberals Can't Get It Together

Oh, those simpler days when everything was black and white, and right and wrong seemed like such absolutes. There was a God who loved us immensely, and would punish all those who didn't believe. I have a friend, and he is a friend, who is very conservative, and has a habit of blaming all of our troubles on liberals. For him, even though he is integrally informed, life is also simple, full of absolutes, and blame.

Absolutism is a first tier quality, particularly an Amber (Blue in Spiral Dynamics terms) quality where order and authority reign supreme. For Amber, life is black and white, and there aren't a lot of choices to be made. Amber accepts authority and whatever "norms" or law they are told to respect. Doesn't really matter what culture it's in, Amber follows the rules of that culture. For my purposes, I'm referring to Amber in the context of the USA. Amber, along with early Orange, makes up most of the conservative population.

Developmental psychologists pretty much agree, across the board, that development, or consciousness, as I'm using it, unfolds in a spiral, or stages, of ever-increasing complexity. To simplify, they may disagree on what those stages are, but agree that there are stages. People who are at Tribal (Purple...we'll continue using Spiral Dynamics) levels of consciousness are more complex than people who are at Survival (beige) levels. People who are at the Power (Red) level are more complex than Purple, Blue more complex than Red, Orange more complex than Blue, and Green, the last bastion on first tier conciousness and home of Liberalism, more complex than the preceding stages.

So, if liberalism is more complex than conservativism, what's the problem? The problem is the complexity itself, still wrapped in first tier absolutism (or rather, an anti-absolutism that is ironically absolute), where every level level of consciousness, or stage, thinks every other stage else is flat wrong. Green sees so many paradoxes it can't decide which way to go, and since Green also refuses to see hierarchically (natural occurences where some truths are more true than others), it can't agree on a course of action. It's really a menu so over-laden with choices that no choices can be made. Green's "Boomeritus" syndrome is so powerful that Green, who says everybody is right, literally can't choose one course of action over the other.

Complexity's a bitch at the top of first-tier thinking. Liberals, or democrats, can't even decide how to respond to conservative absolutism.

On Sunday, during the SeattleIntegral Shadow Workshop, Ken Wilber told us that about 5% of the world's population is now at second-tier consciousness, and that once the population reaches 10% in the next few years, there will be a monumental shift in consciousness.

Until that time, we must keep introducing Integral Thinking to that portion of the population who are Green emergent to teal, or second tier.

It can't happen too soon.

To see the T-Shirt with the SDi graphic, click here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

An Amazing Shadow Workshop from SeattleIntegral

One of the many, many things I love about SeattleIntegral is that we get to do some really cool shit with some really cool people! This weekend's Shadow Play Workshop, facilitated by the incredibly warm and light-hearted Linda Nicholls, also featuring a 90-minute live teleconference call with Ken Wilber on the shadow, is a perfect example.

In this all-day workshop, Linda approached Shadow Work in a playful manner, turning what could be gruelling, painful work into a fun, light day with many aha! moments, brought to light by the excercises, role playing, and "games," making us aware of the paradoxes that shadow presents, and also aware that shadow isn't necessarily our "enemy," but possibly even a friend, and vital energy in need of transformation.

In one scenario, we were paired with another attendee, and had to create a "movie script" for each other, placing that person as a "hero," or "heroine," in the script we created for them. There were some incredibly funny scenarios created, and then the tables were turned on us when we were told that we then had to assume those roles ourselves....a great lesson in projection, and great fun.

No small part of the impact of the day was our live 90-minute call with Ken. Ken was as warm and personable as he is on Integral Naked, or in private conversation. You get a totally different picture of him in conversation than is possible in his books, as wonderful as they obviously are. His humor and compassion really shine. After a few warm up greetings, I asked Ken to tell us why shadow is the main impediment to our growth. Rather than tell you about it, I hope to have a recording of the call posted soon. What I will share with you is how much of an impact the portion on Group Shadow, a particularly nasty thing, had on me and how I will try approach group activities with an increased awareness of the possibility of my, and the group, shadow butting in and wreaking havoc.

The event was a great introduction to shadow work, and I'm guessing all of the attendees will be just a little less shy about taking the next step: some personal shadow work with a qualified integral therapist....I'm looking for names....all the good ones I know (like Venita) are my friends!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Conversation in Big Mind

"I want to speak to the Controller."
"Who am I speaking to?"
The Controller: "The Controller"
"What do you do?"
The Controller: "I control things."
"What kind of things do you control?"
The Controller: "Everything I can."
"Why do you control?"
The Controller: "Because I'm the Controller."
"Why is it important to control?"
The Controller: "To keep myself safe."
"What happens if you lose control?"
The Controller" "For me it's unthinkable."
"Controller, I'd like your permission to speak to someone else."
May I have permission, Controller, to speak to the Damaged Self?"
The Controller: "Yes."
"I'd like to speak to the Damaged Self."
"Who am I speaking with?"
The Damaged Self: "The Damaged Self."
Why are you called the Damaged Self?"
The Damaged Self: "Because I'm damaged."
"How did you get damaged?"
The Damaged Self: "Others...other people, other voices, neglect, hurt, other anything."
"What is your function as the Damaged Self?"
The Damaged Self: "I'm the resevoir for all that pain, all that crap..."
"If you were in your parents' house, where would they put you?"
The Damaged Self: "In the Basement......"

And so goes BIG MIND....opening our separate selves, not threatening the ego, causing it to resist, but allowing all of our different aspects and being to come forward, unafraid, because they know they are safe and protected.

Genpo Roshi, creator of BIG MIND, told several of us a couple of weeks ago, when we were blessed to meet with him in a small, intimate group, that Ken Wilber calls Big Mind the fourth major turning of the Wheel of Dharma in Buddhism. The first being the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha, the second being the rise of Mahayana Buddhism, and the third being the philospophy of Nagarjuna. With a mastery born of more than thirty years of teaching, Genpo Roshi has enabled thousands of participants in Big Mind workshops to gain profound insights and taste for themselves the illuminating experience from which Buddhism and all the world's great religions originate.

Having done this practice for over a year, I can tell you it's a path from zero to non-dual awareness in almost nothing flat. Get yourself to a workshop or DVD as quickly as you can.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Integral "U" Process

In most situations, when something happens to us, we go directly from downloading the information, reacting to what has happened, and embodying the results of that reaction, or whatever comes up for us, with no deepening.

With the Integral "U" Process, we take the time to go to an open mind (gross realm) to Open Heart (subtle realm) to Open Will (causal realm) allowing the stillness, the source, to arrive.

This is known as "Presencing." Down the "U" on the left, up the "U" on the right, embodying a deeper solution than is possible by reacting.

Blogging from the Source

I've just returned from a 4-hour workshop on Insight Dialogue facilitated by Terri O'Fallon, and I'm still in an altered state of conciousness as a result of that deep causal meditative experience. I thought it might be interesting to write while still in that altered state and see what happens.

It's not like I haven't experienced creativity from the source before. Long before I became a serious mediator, I spent many, many hours in the causal realm as an artist, "letting go, letting come." I've also had a 10-year career as a professional musician, so I've experienced the causal state in group process, on stage with other musicians, as you forget about what notes to play and just let it flow with each other in perfect accord.

I didn't really know what either of those experiences were until I learned how to go really deep, by myself, and with others, in meditation. I only knew that those experiences felt really, really good.

There are lots of good ways to go deep with meditation, but the best way that I know of in my limited experience, to go deep with a group of people who are interested in sourcing dialogue, is through Insight Dialogue. Combined with the Integral "U" Process, Insight Dialogue is a way to go deeper and deeper into meditative awareness in interpersonal life.

The Integral Life Practice group I'm a member of has been using this process for about 4 months, and our conversations have definitely taken a turn toward deeper intimacy. The Core Group of SeattleIntegral also uses this process to guide us in our leadership role.

While the process can be used to deepen conversation around a particular subject, or issue, today it was just splendid to sit with the small group of five people we broke off into (three of whom I had never met before!) and connect in the causal realm where words aren't even necessary for everyone to understand what is being said. "Blissing Out" in group.

Sweet as that is, where it really impacts my life is with a core group of dear, dear friends, with whom I've practiced on a regular basis, and where we can instantly drop down into subtle and causal states simply by being in each other's prescence.

Hoo-boy! I am BUZZING!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Leadership as Practice

I've been struggling with starting this post...part of my hesitancy is fear that I'm not really qualified to write about this, but then, I have been, and still am, a leader within a growing community. On the other hand, I sometimes do it very poorly.

Just this weekend, there's been a row about the website I built and launched for the SeattleIntegral community. Perhaps my first mistake was asking for input. Boy, did I get it! On the other hand, again, we only had about 3 people out of almost 150 members, who were complaining about the website. Now, in my regular job as a graphic artist, I know that about 10% of the people are going to complain no matter what you do. 3 out of 150 is a whole lot less than 10%, so I know I must have done a pretty good job. Not perfect, but good. After all the website, like me, is a work in progress.

The issue with leadership comes up with the question of how one responds when face with pure criticism and no support? Like most people, I am sorely tempted to lash out in response, utterly and completely destroying the infidel complainer(s) for their impertinence. There was a time when I would have done that without a second thought.

This is not that time.

One of the things I've learned over the past few years is that I'm not going to change minds by lashing out. It only makes me look bad, as well, and runs the risk of losing any support that might exist. People know when someone is lashing out, and people generally know the difference between constructive criticism offered with love and compassion, and de-constructive criticism, offered with an agenda and shadow.

At the same time there is the issue of "idiot compassion." We all know what that is: self-indulgence of thinking that you are creating a compassionate situation when in fact you are feeding the other person's aggression. So how do you respond? Damn! A paradox!

What I'm trying to become better at is to take my time in my lead from a place of wisdom instead of reaction. I try to take the time to ask myself, "How would I respond if I were truly second tier?"

Do that enough times and it becomes a habit...engrained and manifested in your being. Another case of "practice makes perfect."

Or, in this case, at least a little better today than I was yesterday

Monday, September 04, 2006

More on Integral Relationship

Some of us at SeattleIntegral are talking about starting a new subgroup: Integral Relationship.

How do we be in relationship from an AQAL (All-quadrants, All Levels) perspective? Not just intimate relationship with a beloved, but also in our daily lives with the people we work with, immediate and extended family, people we just come into contact with (although I readily admit I would like to have one of those intimate relationships with a beloved).

I'm reading Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. It's described as a way to be fully together without giving up yourself. I heartily recommend it. Nothing new. Which is precisely what makes this so good. This is the stuff of time-tested common sense. From an Amazon review: "If the Hendricks message is to be boiled down to one catch-phrase, it would simply be: "wake up." It is not so much about change, as it is about living with our eyes open, fully aware (conscious) of why we do what we do, how we feel while we are doing it, and which way we will go next. Instead of moving through a fog, we instead make conscious choices." It also demands we hold ourselves and our partners accountable.

Conscious choices. How do I live my life at this very moment? It's a question I'm constantly asking myself whether I'm writing, responding to a discussion on the SeattleIntegral list, talking to a customer or co-worker, and in every conversation I have. How'm I doing? I am constantly challenged and constantly falling short. What's the single most important element to trying to succeed? Compassion with accountability. Even when your buttons are pushed. Even when you want to dig back back.

Conscious Loving also has a discussion forum which can be found here. Trying to be conscious and accountable in our relationships is a practice we could all use and beneift from. I know very few arenas in life that have as much impact on us as relationship, from the moment we gasp for our first breath, and until the moment when we take our last. We simply must include relationship in an integral practice.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I'm back, with a new mission!

Blogger has apparently been "google-ized," and I have been unable to post for a while during that transistion, but it appears to be up and running, and I will be posting again, if not every day, at least 2-3 times a week.

The direction of Integral in Seattle will change slightly, and won't be noticeable to most of you, dear readers. In addition to writing about what it means to try to live my life in an integral fashion, I'm also going to write about what it means to start, manage, and lead an integral salon through the birth process and, now, the "formative years," as SeattleIntegral struggles to eventually stand completely on it's own.

We finally have our very own website,, which I paid for, designed, and launched. I am not a webmaster, nor am I a professional web designer, but I'm a pretty damn good graphic designer. Now I'm catching some flack because a couple of people don't like it, so I'm encouraging conversation about on the discussion list, instead of it just being between another person and myself. Remembered lesson: You can't please everyone.

The massive amount of time to design and launch the site was possible because of the Core Group, a leadership circle taking on the responsibility of running the group, leaving me time to do other things. The Core Group was also invaluable with feedback and support.

It will be these kinds of salon issues, and how to approach them in a second tier manner, that I'll address over the next few months.