Friday, December 29, 2006

Living a Whole Life, One Part at a Time

The following is posted with permission from Molly Gordon. It appeared in her newsletter, Authentic Promotion, which I highly recommend.

I don't know about you, but trying to live a balanced life as a self-employed person has got me plumb wore out. (Or is that plum wore out? I suppose the spelling is not a terribly serious matter when using the vernacular.)

My friend jennifer Louden once remarked, "Balance is the new girdle." I agree. Balance has become, as so many good ideas do, a tyrant.

I love balance; don't get me wrong. I just don't experience it very often. And I've noticed repeatedly that life is better and I am kinder when I accept myself exactly as I am rather than spending hours pre-occupied with the way I think I ought to be.

So here's a question: If everything is perfect, and it is, why are we trying so hard? And what are we trying to do?

Here's my simple answer: We're trying to be whole. It's the most important thing in the world, and because we usually experience this wholeness in relatively small parts, we don't often realize that we're already there.

Wholeness doesn't look the way you might think. Wholeness is all of it - all of you - right here, right now. You may be completely, fabulously, rampantly crazed by the holidays or some other aspect of your life. You may be blessed out or in, swimming in a current of gratitude, praise the Lord! You may be heart broken or exalted; your checkbook may be balanced or in chaos. Whatever state you and your life is in, it is the state of Grace.

From Gary: In the post right below this one, you'll find Molly's 9 steppingstones to grace.

You can read Molly's blog at

9 Steppingstones to Grace

Again, thanks to Molly Gordon for permission to reprint her article from her newsletter, Authentic Promotion.

Every day we are bombarded with messages about what it means to be successful and happy, and that can make it hard to notice that you live in a state of Grace. Here are nine things you can do to remember.

1. Time: Make a time budget to account for eveything you do and wish that you could do. Add up how much time you would need for all of that, and then make some choices. Help yourself to a downloadable tool here. It's the very first item listed.

2. De-clutter. Go to; hire an organixer; clip a column from the daily paper and follow the directions for cleaning out your closet. Make room for life to move. If it's your desk that's cluttered, email for help.

3. Money. Ask yourself and your family what it would be like to live as if you all had a wonderful relationship with money. Talk about it over dinner, on car trips, or when cleaning out the garage.

4. Work. The nicest boss in the world (and the nicest co-workers) will take advantage of you if you do not know your limits. If you are self-employed, do NOT trust your boss or you will never have a life. ;-) Take at least one full day off each week. Please!

5. Volunteer commitments and favors: Try the selfishness test. Say no to any request you wouldn't comply with if no one were watching.

6. Laugh. Laugh some more. For a list of gut-busting videos, send a blank email to

7. Do The Work. Visit Download a workshet. Read a few articles. Then do The Work in writing on one stressful thought per day for a month. Amazing!

8. Perspective. Visit . You'll discover that you are already wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of most people on the planet. Breathe. Say "thank you." Decline the temptation to dive into middle or upper class liberal guilt. Say "thank you" again. If your being wealthy is not a problem, and it's not, what is it?

9. Reflect. Each day before you go to sleep notice what you are most and least grateful for. Jot it down. Over time this is a great compass and it takes less than five minutes a day. Get a free discernment guide by sending a blank email to .

Read Molly's blog at 

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Heroes and Monsters

"It is only when we have the courage to face things
exactly as they are,
without any self-deception or illusion,
that a light will develop out of events,
by which the path to success may be recognized."
The I Ching

I am more and more convinced that before anything will change on any level - personal, community, nationally (in my case the US), and globally - we must first face our own shadow. The task of realizing the shadow, what Jung called the "apprentice work," is an individual problem with cultural consequences. We start with ourselves.

I recently became aware of an aspect of my own shadow, a particularly masculine version known as "the hero."

The word "hero" comes from Heracles in Greek mythology, and in Greek Hero means a man who is sacrificed to Hera, and even today the myth is deeply ingrained into our culture. The invincible "heroes" are depicted in movies and played by actors such as Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Steven Seagall, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and Charles Bronson, where the male hero defeats a seemingly superior opponent against all odds.

There's nothing wrong with being a hero, but for many men, they feel they must always be heroes.

In many ancient tales, the hero is sacrificed to the goddess. The martyrdom of Christ embodies the idea that the ultimate goodness of a man is his willingness to die for others. This belief has led countless generations of men to heedlessly march off to slaughter in wars. Today, men who suggest that the time for peace has come are still called cowardly.

More of us are realizing that, while there may be a time to fight, there is also the danger of becoming trapped in the guise of the hero, unable to remove the hard protective armor that covers our exteriors, and our more relational side.

The split archetype of the hero is The Monster. Almost always male, he is ruthless, cold-blooded, devoid of feeling, and preys on women. the Monster lives in the shadow of the Hero.

My own realization of this came when I remembered, and owned, a particularly nasty event in my life where I acted as the monster instead of the hero.

Today, we can see The Monster shadow of a leader, worshipped as a hero by many, and we see him pointing at others when, all along and in spite of his blindness, we recognize that he's talking about himself, because that's all he can see.

Note: Much of the information here is from the book "The Shadow in America: Reclaiming the Soul of a Nation." from "the Gender Wars" by Aaron Kipnis and Elizabeth Herron

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Holidays

I won't be blogging for a few days. Around 4 or 5am Saturday morning before Christmas, I'll be heading down beautiful Interstate 5 from Seattle, through Oregon, and winding up in Redding in northern California, 9 hours later, depending on the weather, stereo alternating between blasting Earth, Wind, & Fire, some blues, and Ken Wilbers Kosmic Konciousness CD's. The forecast is for rain on that day, but I'll be carrying chains in case there's snow on the pass between Oregon and California. It's dead winter, here, and it's been a bit of bitch, so far.

My Dad, one of the remaining Pearl Harbor survivors, turns 88 in January and is in the best of health considering, lives in Redding with his wife, whom he caretakes after her two mild strokes. I'll stay there until Christmas Day, and then continue 3 hours on down to Napa (the wine country) where my 84 year old mother, also in good health, lives. My sister and her partner are there also, as are dozens of cousins, aunts, uncles, and second and third cousins. I'll stay there until Weds and make the 12 hour drive back to Seattle.

I have an excellent relationship with my family, including my sister, who blurted out to our relatives at Thanksgiving dinner, "Gary's really out there." I wasn't present. The conversation immediately turned to religious cults, as my mother tells it, perturbed at my sister. Ah, perspectives......:)

On Friday before New Years, my very good friend Anyaa is coming out to spend New Year's here, and we'll get together with some other integralites for dinner, fireworks at the Space Needle (awesome!), and if we're lucky, some dancing. Anyaa is the transpersonal psychotherapist who facilitated the Shamanic Breathwork Process experience I wrote about on my blog. She'll be heading back to North Carolina, 2700+ miles away, on the the second.

During that week plus, I'll have sporadic access to the internet, reading copiously and drinking heavily (kidding...) to counter the net withdrawal I'll no doubt be be experiencing.....breathe.......

Everything will pretty much go back to its normal chaos after that. Hopefully, I'll be re-energized and ready to happily submit to the wondrous chaos that is my life once more.

Happy Holidays (and Merry Christmas) to you all

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coming Into Our Own

There's something emerging. This something feels like pure spirit, destiny, and the future.

I'm talking about the merging of leaders from Integral Salons from around the world. The larger (mega) salons have clearly seen the vision and the future and are creating this emergence because it's burned in our individual and collective consciousness. These mega-salons are in Sydney, Seattle, New York, London, Copenhagen, Israel, Spain, and Germany, and most have over one hundred members.

It's happening because we finally understand the how, what, who, and why of the tetra-arising in all four quadrants of Ken Wilbers' AQAL model. While we are beginning to understand and apply it, it is more difficult to actually embody it.

In other words, it's a bitch to build a worldwide integral organization.

We have two websites and a wiki: one website is the leadership list, The Salon Leadership Council, that is managing this emergence, and the other website is the salon/group leaders list, called Integral Worldspace. The wiki is a working space for assembling the structures and forms both groups will take on.

The Salon Leadership Council, through an amazing vision statement (Lower Left quadrant, or why) first drafted by my dear friend and SeattleIntegral partner, Venita Ramirez, and refined and honed with loving hands and hearts by leaders of these mega-salons, is now putting the structures (Lower Right Quadrant, or how), including Holacracy, into place which will contain this vision, making it possible for it to flourish and live.

We are being careful not to open the doors on this vision until the structures are in place that can handle the rush of smaller salon and group leaders from all over the world we anticipate will clamor for the support, the mentoring, the lessons, the community, and the individual and collective wisdom that these seasoned salon leaders will provide.

All of this is being done with the full knowledge and enthusiastic support of Integral Institute, Ken Wilber, and, it appears, their blessing, but it is these leaders who are co-creating this magnificent effort of global emergence.

I am both humbled and proud to be a part of this unfolding.

Graphic: emergence pure fractal flame by Cory Ench © 2004

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Experience of Shamanic Breathwork

Ecstatic. That's the only word I can think of that even comes close to describing my experience with The Shamanic Breathwork™ Process as facilitated by the loving guidance of Anyaa McAndrew, Shamanic/Transpersonal Psychotherapist and Shamanic Breathwork™ Facilitator (and more!)

Similar to Holotropic Breathwork and Rebirthing developed by Stanislav Grof, and, in fact, 3rd generation of Holotropic Breathwork, this process is highly experiential and the wisdom and healing gained comes from each individuals inner experience. Shamanic Breathwork™ honors and blends the timeless wisdom of ancient traditions with the emerging new paradigm methods of healing and teaching. It functions as the rainbow bridge between these two worlds honoring the best of both worlds while creating a bridge for body, mind, heart, and spirit.

The process itself uses very simple means: it combines accelerated breathing with evocative music in a special set and setting. With the eyes closed and lying on a mat, each person uses their own breath and the music in the room to enter a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This state activates the natural inner healing process of the individuals psyche, bringing him or her a particular set of internal experiences. With the inner healing intelligence guiding the process, the quality and content brought forth is unique to each person and for that particular time and place. While recurring themes are common, no two sessions are ever alike.

My own experience through this process had major elements. The first element was a combination of three extremely powerful sexual energy Kundalini experiences occurring at different times during the process. In yogic traditions, Kundalini is a natural force traditionally seen as a serpent, coiled, sleeping at the base of the spine in the sacral area. Because it most strongly erupts during orgasm, many equate it with orgasmic energy. The
Shamanic Breathwork™ Process begins with music at the bottom chakra, which can trigger this energy.

As sexual energy rises through the chakras via the inner flute and streams throughout the body, it cleanses and heals blocks, inhibitions, and wounds. And with enough practice and opening, this is what causes extended whole-body Tantric Orgasm.

The second element of the process was an experience of non-dual awareness, pure consciousness, or pure being. The best way I can describe this is as an in-body experience of the vastness of the universe, and my connectedness to it. I became part of vast universes, stars, and colors, a magnificent surprise and patently obvious. Problems dissolve, joy, wonder, and compassion arise naturally.

The third part, even more powerful than the Kundalini energy, and the state of non-dual awareness (how is that possible?), was an experience of compassion, love, and forgiveness of myself. During the 20 or so minutes of this experience, I found myself tightly hugging and embracing myself, loving myself, all the while gently sobbing at the experience of permission from me to forgive me and to allow myself compassion and to love myself.

During this, I was totally aware of what was happening and it's implications for me: If I could forgive and feel compassion and love for myself, I could do it with anyone, and that there was no separation between my self and others.

A caution: This process should only be experienced with a trained facilitator. Each person's shamanic journey is a highly individualized process and no two are ever the same. Some of the states of consciousness reported range from divine, otherworldly bliss states to the struggle to be released from negative forces in the psyche. Rebirthing is a common occurrence, as is the life review where one relives or observes their lifetime experiences. Old patterns of dysfunction may be brought to the surface. Addictions are sometimes healed during this process, as feelings such as grief, fear, rage and anxiety are released.

I highly recommend you find someone to facilitate this process in your life.....for me, I'm going to try and bring Anyaa to Seattle where she can facilitate a large group of people who would like to experience this firsthand.

There aren't many practices I can describe as integral by themselves*, but this comes about as close as I can imagine!

*Most practices are part of a larger group of practices, which when done together, become integral

self portrait photoshopped by Gary Stamper - click to enlarge

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Evolutionary Quickening

Perhaps she'll reach teal at 12....
(if you can't read the book cover, it's Atlas Shrugged)
photo by Gary

Visionary and Practical Leadership: both/and

I've just finished writing and submitting the first of a series of approximately four articles I'm proposing for The Integralist magazine. The articles are about The Emergence of Integral Salons and require multiple articles to truly get to the depth of what's happeing in these emerging and evolving communities.

My dear friend Tom Mull, also with the SeattleIntegral Core group, and I , are also working on an article for The Integralist about how salons can use I-I's and Brian Robertson's Holacracy as a governing method, and why it's the best way to go.

The Integralist
is Ken's visionary idea of a magazine similar to What is Enlightenment?. According to Steve Frazee, the recently resigned I-I CEO, it will be more of a popular periodical as opposed to the AQAL Journal's academic focus. With I-I's current staffing and funding problems, it will interesting to see if it ever hits the streets. I am definitely holding space for that to happen and I am acting as if it will. was promised to us as part of our membership benefits to I-I.

One of the problems with visionary leadership is that it tends to over promise and under deliver. As someone who has owned businesses and managed and run others' businesses, I've learned, that to maintain credibility with your customers, you must under promise and over deliver. Make no mistake, I am an I-I customer, and if you're paying dues to support them, so are you.

In his blog Steve writes, "As CEO of Integral Institute it was my perspective that I-I should first be a healthy first-tier (conventional) business delivering second tier (post-conventional) content and services before it tried to be a second tier business, whatever that might be."

Tom Mull: "I'm inclined to agree. I know that Ken thinks that organizations can skip developmental stages (LLQ) unlike individuals (ULQ). I agree in principle, and while it may be possible, it isn't probable. I think that the basic structures of both of the lower quads have to be in place and that that will have to be a sequential development. I agree with Steve that before we become a second tier organization, we have to become a healthy first tier one (with the basic structures) thus my interest in LRQ organizational stuff."

Bingo! A vision can only be supported by practical means, or it just remains a vision. The structure (LRQ), informed by the group vision (LLQ), must be in place for the vision to come to fruition. Part of the problem is that Ken has never run organizations prior to this. He is, quite frankly, not well developed in this line (Note: that does not in any way negate his brilliance as a visionary, so before you blast me for criticizing Ken, it's not a criticism, but an observation).

At SeattleIntegral, we are working on the Core Group becoming a second-tier leadership group, while we are aware the larger SI group remains a first tier organization for now. That doesn't mean there aren't second tier people within that larger organization.

What we're seeing take place at Integral Institute at this time is an incredible learning lesson and opportunity for all of us who lead organizations, and we ignore it at our own peril.

AQAL bumper sticker by Gary Stamper

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Good News on Ken and Some Observations

Now that we're all breathing just a little easier about Ken's health, I want to address some reactions I've seen over the last couple of days about how we look at criticism, and the current management issues at Integral Institute.

I know Ken is not out of the woods, yet, and I want to remain mindful that my primary concern and hope, and I'm sure yours, is for his full and healthy recovery. Colin Bigelow expressed his, and I'm sure, most everyone's most soulful sentiments on Ken's Blog this morning. Colin, thank you. Your words touched me deeply and brought tears to my eyes. It was as if I were reading Ken’s own words.

While we're waiting for more good news about Ken, there have been some who have been fairly, and even righteously, indignant about the recent criticism over what's been happening at I-I. One of those criticisms has focused on indignation that there would be criticism going on while Ken was in the hospital in a coma.

I couldn't agree more.

However, one of the issues some criticism has focused around is the lack of transparency from I-I. Because I'm active in integral blogging, and am always checking on what's going on, I knew that Ken was ill fairly quickly, and passed the news on quickly to others who I knew shared my passion for him and his work, but a lot of people didn't, and a firestorm of speculation and analysis had already begun around the continually unfolding events at I-I. Even with the sudden and delayed news of Ken's hospitalization moving from blog to blog, from email to email, that firestorm could not possibly have come to a sudden, screeching halt.

We also need to distinguish between people who are offering honest, heartfelt criticism because they care deeply about Ken, his model of consciousness, and I-I, and those who are engaged in personal attacks. Isn't this partly what the AQAL model is about? Who, what, how, and why? It's also fairly obvious that there are those who cannot justify, or tolerate, any criticism of Ken, or his version, comprehensive as it is, of the integral movement. I personally know some of them and it's apparent fairly quickly, that their loyalty and obsession with "one way" borders on blind fundamentalism, however well intentioned, and think the rest of us are basically committing blasphemy. You, my integrally informed friends, are the ones that are on the verge of turning
integral into a religion.

I know there's the beginning of a discussion on whether some of what happens at I-I should be transparent at all, but I think it should. Only by knowing what and why things happen, can we make informed decisions on how we feel about them....and while I'm a member of I-I (that's what my $20 a month is about, right?), I know I'm also not part of the management team, but second tier demands discernment, accountability, and competence.

I feel like a stockholder, or at least a stakeholder, in the dream of I-I, and that my stake has been bought and paid for by my soul, my caring, and what I vested in the success of I-I. Please don't think that because you might not see that Ken is also a man with human frailties and, yes, shortcoming, that I love him any less than you do, or that because I see, and point out, some of those frailties, that I love him any less than you do, or that I'm the enemy. I'm not.

Let's all hope that Ken recovers soon.

"All You Need Is Love" graphic by Gary Stamper

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Update on I-I Difficulties

Vince has the most information, links, and a letter from Steve Frazee, the CEO of I-I who has just resigned.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Courage and Showing Up

"Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?" - Marian Wright Edelman

Courage, also known as fortitude, is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty or intimidation. It can be divided into "physical courage," when faced with physical pain, hardship, and threat of death - and moral courage - in the face of shame, scandal, and discouragement (source: Wikipedia).

The Catholic Church says that courage is one of the Four Cardinal Virtues. "Cardinal" is considered to be a "pivotal" virtue because to possess courage, one must must be able to sustain it in the face of difficulty.

The precise view of what constitutes courage varies among cultures. It also varies among individuals, particularly from different altitudes, or structure perspectives. I'm wondering if a lack of fear in a situation that would normally generate it, while present at all altitudes, might be more prevalent at second tier? How much of that is actual courage and how much is developmental, where fear drops away?

Some hold that courage requires one to have fear and then overcome it.

One of my own fears revolved around letting go of SeattleIntegral: not only giving up my role as the pivotal force driving it, but actually encouraging others to step up and take over the reins, thereby giving up what some might consider "my power."

I didn't, and don't, see it that way. I was more powerful by giving up my power. I was able to make a larger contribution to the big picture by stepping back and allowing others to develop, and by nurturing that development. It's the equivalent of a parent stepping back and allowing a child to mature, an act that must happen so the child can become an adult. It's very difficult to do, and a courageous act in and of itself.

One of the problems I see in other organizations is that leaders who hold the power are unwilling to step aside to allow others to also develop into leaders. These power leaders, well intentioned as they may be, actually stand in the way of the healthy development of the organizations.

As leaders, we must have the courage to step aside when the time is right.

Illustration by Gary Kelley