Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Alternative Views on the Radical Transformation of an Integral Salon

Joe Perez, one of my integral blogging heroes, and someone I consider to be a good friend even though I don't get to see him enough, has offered some feedback on my post about The Radical Transformation of Integral Salons Into First Tier (read it, and the other comments, here). My post was an effort at a conversation no one else has started, offered an alternative proposal to until now, or even acknowledged that there was a need for such a conversation.

There are, as has been pointed out in more than one comment on that blog, different approaches and paths on this journey, and as former I-I CEO Steve Frazee pointed out in his comment to that blog, leaders get things done. My approach is the approach that I'm most familiar with because that's where my experience lies, just as Joe, and a couple others, have pointed their own familiarity with other approaches.

If anyone thinks my approach won't work, or that there's a better way to do it, I'm happy to have a conversation around that. However, if people are just pointing out that there's more than one way to do this, well, duh.

Leadership is determined by who shows up. I love who showed up in Joe's model of a non-profit without dues. I also love who is showing up at seattlIntegral, including myself, and rather than putting out 10 different approaches and asking, "well, what do you guys want to do," I'm picking my favored approach and asking who's following?

We can always have more conversations, as in the questions Joe asked about SI's purpose and who we are: "Does SI intend to be a primary spiritual community or religious organization? Or does SI aspire to be an adjunct orgnization to complement the more formal commitments members are making elsewhere?"

Are those the only options? I would submit SI is already a "spiritual organization," at least for me and many other members who express and embody that sensitivity and awareness. I would also argue that even if people don't acknowledge spirit, or are aware of spirit, that spirit still pervades our very being. One of the things we learned about SeattleIntegral very early, is that different people come for different reasons: Some for community, some for knowledge, some to be challenged or to challenge, some to practice, and even some to argue. Si is a lot of things to a lot of people.

No one who has offered an alternative view has said why they don't like the membership model, how it's inadequate, or that it's wrong, only that they prefer another approach. Great! Then lead. Take up your banner, make your case, and show up....or, stand on the sidelines, offer alternative ways to do things, and go back to doing what you do, which is perfectly fine, and I have no problem with that.

In the meantime, I'm reminded of the old saying, "lead, follow, or get out of the way." I'm asking you to help SeattleIntegral to accomplish this, not make it harder.

One of the reasons I've pushed so hard for a leadership group (which we now have) and solid structure is so that the organization, SI, can stand on it's own, and I can take my leadership and vision to other projects and directions I want to concentrate on. I care a lot less about how we mature, than that we mature. As a leader, I've been blessed with a remarkable group of people who show up. Without them, I'd be leading somewhere else.

....and everyone...thanks for paying attention.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Radical Transformation of a Salon: Organizational Evolution and Membership

Until there's a commitment, there's only a shell of an organization, a wish, a "what-if," and a dream of what might be. SeattleIntegral has been, and continues to be, one model of what an Integral Salon can be. We've had inspired and visionary leadership, and we now have a group of people, the Core Group, committed to taking that vision to the next level.

Seattleintegral, one of the largest integral salons in the world and over 160 members, is a group held loosely together by that vision, and by the dreams and wishes of the individuals who make it up. It is also made of of lurkers and people who don't post and aren't really involved for whatever personal reasons, and by people who just like to hang around the energy created by others. It can certainly continue as it is, with people finding us, and drifting in, from Meetups, from Integral Institute, and from other groups, learning, and some, maybe, without seeking the next level of evolution in the development of the organization.

But that's not my vision, and I'm hoping it's not the salon vision. I want to take this group to the next level: that of a self-sufficient, self-supportive, mature organization that will continue to contribute to the member individuals, the community, and the world.

I'm no longer going to detail "why" SeattleIntegral needs to move to the next level. I believe I've done that and made my points sufficiently. Instead, I'm going to focus on the "how" we move to the next level of organizational development.

My proposal to the Core (leadership) group of SeattleIntegral is that we institute a 3-4 tiered membership program, consisting of several different levels of membership. Please keep in m ind that this proposal is a starting point to develop needed structure. These proposed membership levels as I will be submitting to the Core Group are:
  • FREE: Free membership. Nothing changes for members who want things to remain the same or don't care to invest in the future of SeattleIntegral
  • Level One: Minimum investment of $60 per year, if paid up front, or $6 per month if paid monthly. Benefits include voting rights in electing representation in the form of a Board of Directors, including two members who are chosen from the board to up-link to, and be included in, the Core Group.
  • Level Two: Minimum investment of $100 per year, if paid up front, or $10 per month if paid monthly. Includes the benefits listed at level One, and 50% off one event of your choice per year.
  • Level Three: Minimum investment of $150 per year, if paid up front, or $15 per month if paid monthly. Includes the benefits listed at level One, and one free event of your choice per year.
The benefits to both SeatleIntegral and its members are many. SeattleIntegral gets much needed cash flow to continue serving its members and the integral community by becoming a 501-3C non-profit organization and by offering bigger and better events without the risk to individual members who are now putting on these events at their own risk. Paying members receive the benefits of having a voice in the governing of the salon as well as value in the events and the knowledge that they are supporting the salon and its evolution.

The elected Board of Directors, a solid, healthy first tier structure, would assume the business of governing and running the salon and its activities, including the web site, Meetup, the calendar, and events. The Board would also be responsible for developing the up-linking and down-linking of Sociocratic/Holacratic circles, from the sub-groups of one side, to the Salon leadership Council, and ultimately, Integral Institute from the other direction once those organizations also have the necessary structures in place. The Core group would remain in place as the visioning arm of SeattleIntegral.

I want to reiterate that this is my vision for seattleIntegral, and that it is only one way to do this. There may be better ways, and it may not be everyone's vision. I know there will be negative reactions to this proposal. There will be those who have adverse feelings about the hierarchy membership seems to create. I submit that there already exists a hierarchy of action between those who are doing and those who are not. Many of those who are not currently "in action" may simply not have the time resources, or skills needed, to invest in SeattleIntegral's future. If we allow that those who serve get some sort of discounted membership for their service, this proposal actually levels the playing field around hierachy. In addition, no one has anything taken away from them because they cannot participate in one way or another.

The choice is simple: We can remain where are are, stagnant with no hope of evolving to the next level of salon, not leading the way, nor modeling the future of integral salons, steeped in the relativism of keeping everyone equal, or we can step up to the next level and way of being and shaping the inevitable future of salons

Either way, we fulfill our destiny. What that destiny is lies in our hands. In order for salons to grow and have more impact on our communities and the world, it must happen. The only question is when?

Radical Transformation for Integral Salons

After reading Keith Bellamy's article on Integral For the Masses: Integral Leadership - Steve Frazee on The Gulf Between Theory and Practice (Integral Leadership Review), I posted the following comment:
"Wonderful insight into what a second tier organization and a path to it can look like. Particularly interesting to me is the lesson for integral salons, and the continuing reminder it's not enough to just operate a non-profit organization from later stage perspectives, but that the earlier structures must be in place, including legal and financial. It's not enough to be a benefactor, or for a bunch of individuals to come together, no matter where they might be developmentally, and claim second tier organizational status. Ultimately, if our non-profit salons/organizations are going to stand on their own, they have to be able to pay their own way, either through organized donations or membership fees. Sometimes the reason we seem arrogant is because we are."

I've been thinking about this for several years. It first came up with my friend Cherie Beck, who is on the Board of Directors for the Center for Human Emergence, when we talked about how our salons might support themselves, and how could we facilitate that shift?

I think we (SeattleIntegral) is at the point where not only can that shift happen, but in terms of evolutionary organizational development, it must happen. Let me explain.

For the last four years, I have been, and remain, SeattleIntegral's only benefactor. During that time, I've gone through printer cartridges, paper, office expenses, etc. For the last three years, I have totally supported the expense of maintaining our Meetup groups at $9 a month. For the last year, I alone have born the cost of monthly web hosting, domain registration, and more. Now, in the greater scheme of things, that's not a lot of money, but I'm a professional working stiff, and it is something.

In other words, I literally own SeattleIntegral. I'd like to give it away, but I can't: It has to be taken from me. You can't give away responsibility, it has to be taken. I can provide the context in which others can step up and assume the responsibility, but that's their choice, to do it or not to do it.

I understand SeattleIntegral is bigger than one person, and quite frankly, besides my children and my love, it is my greatest legacy to date. If I were to go away tomorrow, SeattleIntegral would continue, but it would be very different, at least for a while. The Core (leadership) Group has been a major step forward in the planned transformation of the salon, and I've been the major proponent of that vision.

Now my vision continues to expand, and it's clear to me that for the salon to move forward, evolve, not stagnate, and to step fully into second tier, it must first develop a healthy, prosperous first tier structure. That means it must support itself somehow, and that's what I'm going to lay out in the next blog: How this can, and must, happen.

Meantime, there are other compelling reasons why this must happen. SeattleIntegral has always been a model for other salons to emulate, and we have an opportunity to continue doing so. In addition, Integral Institute will one day begin asking for membership dues from salons to be recognized. If we already have a model in place, it will be difficult not to have I-I take our model into consideration as they establish their own. Not only will that benefit us, but also every other salon that follows us.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Continuing Into Second Tier with Integral Salons

The Integral Leadership Review has a wonderful article by Keith Bellamy called Integral For the Masses: Integral Leadership - Steve Frazee on The Gulf Betweeen Theory and Practice that can be found here.

For those of you who may not know, or remember, Steve is the former CEO of Integral Institute, and Keith's article is as good an explanation of why Steve is no longer there as I've seen, including Steve's. The reason this is important is because many of us, including Integral Institute, seem to be struggling with how to step into second tier leadership. Speaking for SeattleIntegral as one of the original founders (and the only benefactor), we finally have a leadership group that is mostly second tier (but not necessarily everyone, at the same time, around all of the issues).

I consider myself to be operating most of the time from second tier, but once in a while I have shadow stuff that comes up where I clearly act in a first tier manner. We all do, because after all, these are developmental lines and the relative world we're talking about, folks, not just up and out.

What is becoming clearer and clearer for me all the time, and reinforced by Keith's article and Steve's quotes, is the absolute need for salons, and other organizations, to (1) have a structured membership that actually means something more than just belonging to a list, and (2) that SeattleIntegral, or any other organization, will not be an ongoing mature entity until it can support itself. If I were to go away tomorrow, the website would cease to exist, our Meetup would not be funded, and much of the organization would no longer function at the level it now functions at. Unfortunately, this is not healthy.

This is not new to me, and I've been the biggest proponent of developing the Core (leadership) Group, but there is much that remains to be done. In the next posting, I'm going to lay out out a temporary and a long term plan for SeattleIntegral to grow into maturity. It involves members, and the Core Group, stepping up, and it will probably change what it means to be a successful, mature salon....or how salons are not yet truly ready to emerge as grown-ups.

Interesting....everything at this point looks like a test to me.

Image by Gary Stamper

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Relationship and Exalted Narcissism?

Over at Integral Practice the Blog, Bill Harrison and I kinda get hammered a bit by ebuddha. Before I go any further, let me say how much I welcome this conversation, and that ebuddha's blog is a gift.

He quotes:

"There is a tremendous amount of narcissistic exaltation in all thoughts I've read so far, on integral relationship. This is true, both for myself, and in what I've read from these fellow explorers about integral relationship."

He goes on to say:

" I'm not sure that relationship should - EVER - be put into an integral box. Perhaps in thinking about theory, one can talk about integral relationships, but in the relationship itself - it "simply is". Having 'achievable goals' in an actual, real, relationship, run counter to the spirit of what works in relationship."

Why? Never, ever? Where does that absolutism come from? Is that a fact based on some study or research I haven't heard of, or is this a personal opinion based on an interior (1p) experience or observation of other experiences? Were they integral? How do we know? Are all interior experiences the same? Can one interior experience be better than another? Can one be right and another wrong?

He's right when he says that the ground of relationship is love and acceptance, but only partially, in my opinion. I think the ground is much, much bigger than that, particularly at later stages (see my earlier post).

Doesn't everything we do, including relationship, tetra-arise through the four quadrants and the AQAL model?

Why would I think of my relationship with another the same as my relationship with my child?The needs, lessons, and teachings are completely different, with a whole lot of different responsibilities....and where does the Integral Approach say you HAVE to make things work? At best, the approach gives one a better chance to succeed, but it also includes the possibility of walking away (in the most integral manner possible) should that be necessary. Integral doesn't require you to have one single, specific outcome.....nor does it guarantee an outcome.

Let's talk about divorce. How many integral couples do you know? What's the divorce rate for 2nd tier vs. 1st tier relationships? So when ebuddha talks about divorce not fulfilling our needs, he can only talk about generalities throughout the entire spectrum, and I think any conclusion regarding divorce at later stages must surely be pure speculation.

Again, apple and orange comparisons aren't going to cut it here.

And do we really accept an other no matter what? Sounds like relativism to me.

I think the important distinction here, is that relationship is practice, which consists of a multitude of other other practices. As such, doing conscious relationship is a part of an integral life, and can be approached with an integral perspective and in an integral manner. Nowhere, I think, is it more true that the map is not the territory, but an awareness of that map, and all of it's implications for saying yes to relationship, BE-ing in relationship, and yes, even knowing when it's the right time to support the dissolution of that relationship, are all part and parcel of an integral awareness in, and around, relationship.

For my part, I'm going to continue, consciously, with my partner, to try and create the archetypal model for integral relationship. Narcissistic? From what perspective?
I hope we continue this conversation, because this is all brand new stuff, and we're all learning as we go. Thank you, ebuddha, for the gift of conversation.

What an Amazing Readership!

I started this blog over a year ago with no expectations whatsoever except to journal what was on my mind about integral theory, and more, about trying to live the most integral, and comprehensive, life I possibly could. I took it live to hold myself accountable so people could call me on my Bull sh**.

I never expected I would develop a "readership," much less actually get nominated for a couple of blogging awards. But here I am, a year plus down the roads with about 400-500 readers ever month. I guess I'm saying something worthwhile to you, but it's still about my first person (1p) experience.

I do know I've had a major shift during this time, mostly due to manifesting the exact relationship I had hoped for: One that pushes me, challenges me, fills me up, and ultimately allows me to be bigger (and to continue expanding) than I was before meeting this amazing woman. The shift is around my heart exploding wide open, and I believe my writing has deepened.

What's missing is you.....I have a "site meter" that allows me to see your IP address, where you're from, how long you stayed, how many pages you viewed, etc. What;s missing is your interaction: the intersubjectivity of the lower left "we" quadrant.

You come from Seattle, Vancouver, BC, Portland, OR, the Hague, Denmark, the UK, Germany, India, Australia, Turkey, Bucharest, Sacramento (Dept. of Social Services!), La Quinta, North Dakota, Marietta and Atlanta, GA, Plano, TX, SF, Ontario and Toronto, New jersey, and a whole lot more places....Thank you for visiting and thank you for coming back.

Everything is perfect, and it could get better.....drop me a comment...tell me why you read and why you come back...what you like...what you don't like....just say hi...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Shamanic Priestess Process: Differentiation, Integration

The more I learn about The Shamanic Priestess Process (TM), the more impressed I am with it as a transformational path for women. Yeah, I's flowery, it's feminine, and it's full of stuff we men just don't get. That's the point. It's a feminine (communion) path in a masculine (agentic) world. That's why it works so well.

The Shamanic Priestess Process is coming to Seattle, and I urge women who are seeking ways of differentiating from what they've been doing that somehow isn't working for them, to check out one of the free previews coming on these dates:
  • Tuesday, March 20th, 7:30 pm, University Heights Center, 5031 University Wy NE
  • Tuesday, May 22nd, 7:30 pm, Ananda Meditation Ctr, 6509 Roosevelt Way NE
  • Thursday, June 28th, 7:30 pm, The Integral Loft, 80 Yesler Wy, ste 300
This deep and life changing process is getting rave reviews from the women who have experienced it.
"The Priestess process is an enlivening and powerful exploration of the Divine Feminine - both within and without. It is an essential step in self-actualization and cultural evolution. I highly recommend it. Buckle up, it's quite a ride." - DG

"Simply stated, it is the most incredible gift I could have given myself in this lifetime." - EM
Differentiation to Integration. Listen to this radio interview with Shamanic High Priestess and Transpersonal Psychotherapist, Anyaa McAndrew, where she really lays out the process and what women can expect from it.

For more information: Kathryn Russell. 206.525.2025

Friday, March 09, 2007

More on Relationship and Transformation

As I move deeper and deeper into this new relationship with this amazing and beautiful woman I've fallen in love with, I continue to become increasingly aware that relationship is a path to transformation. We're both experiencing the gross, subtle, and causal states of consciousness, as well as non-dual awareness. Speaking only for me, I'm also learning to carry this awareness into all of the other areas of, and relationships in, my life.

This is an increasing awareness of the sacredness of everything around me, even the profane (that's another blog). By repeatedly moving into these altered states or peak experiences, I am accelerating my development and unfolding through stages of growth, consciously evolving to a point where I am maintaining this awareness of the Divine in my daily life. I am that.

The simplest, most available, immediate practice to transformation and transcendent experience you, or I, can have, the most life-changing, here it is, folks, it's non-dual, it's ordinary, path to spiritual realization, is relationship, and the combination of the states and stages puts one on the fast track to Spirit.

And therein lies what Ken Wilber calls the ultimate inside joke....and what some traditions have known for thousands of years.

You are that. Meditation, practices, and ultimately, even relationship, intersects with infinity. And suddenly, you know: It was there all the time. The deepest, widest, highest, wildest part of yourself , the radiance of your being and the shattering realization that simply erupts into laughter.
When your chest is free of your limiting ego,
Then you will see the ageless Beloved.
You can not see yourself without a mirror;
Look at the Beloved, They are the brightest mirror. -Rumi
Tag. You're it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Secret Behind the Secret

Finally....An integral perspective on The Secret and the problem with Oprah. It's not that I can't hear what the power of positive thinking can do (I use it myself with manifesting intention), but manipulating messages for personal gain, and then getting the message so incredibly wrong, is inexcusable.

If I hear one more person telling me The Secret has changed their life, I think I'm going to puke.

Bill at Integral Options Cafe and Peter Birkenhead, writing over at Salon, both nail it.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

More on IMAGO - Getting The Love You Want

I'm delighted my partner encouraged me to read Getting the Love You Want: A couples Guide. It hasn't hurt. In fact, not only am I getting all of this wonderful insight on relationship, but her appreciation for my willingness to dig into the processes she uses in her own practice also reaps rewards to the relationship.....and when the IMAGO couple integrate the practices and exercises laid out in this remarkable book, the healing power of of relationship is not just an unconscious expectation, it become a daily fact of life.

By effectively dealing with criticism and conflict using IMAGO Relationship Therapy, a couple can then reach a new stage in their journey toward conscious relationship. They can move beyond the power struggle and beyond the stage of awakening into the stage of transformation.

"Your relationship will now be based on mutual caring and love, the kind of love that can best be described as "agape." Agape is a self-transcending love that redirects eros, the life force, away from yourself to your partner. As one transaction follows another, the pain of the past is slowly erased, and both of you will experience the reality of your esential wholeness."
Reading it, however, is seriously cutting into my blogging time!

From Getting the love You Want, by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D.
"Eros-Philos-Agapè" © Laurence Maron

Friday, March 02, 2007

Getting The Love You Want: Hendrix

I'm reading Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. Hendrix originated IMAGO Relationship Therapy, a unique healing process for couples, prospective couples, and parents. It's an excellent road map for couples who are seeking a path to intimacy and passionate friendship, and helps couples heal one another to become whole together. A quote from the book:

"First of all, we choose our partners for two basic reasons: (1) they have both the positive and negative qualities of the people who raised us, and (2) they compensate for positive parts of our being that were cut off in childhood. We enter the relationship with the unconscious assumption that our partner will become a surrogate parent and make up for all the deprivation of our childhood. All we have to do to be healed is form a close, lasting relationship."

"After a time we realize that strategy is not working. We are "in love," but not whole. We decide that the reason our plan is not working is that our partners are deliberately ignoring our needs. They know exactly what we want, and when and how we want it, but for some reason, are deliberately withholding it from us. This makes us angry, and for the first time, we begin to see our see our partners' negative traits."

It is here that the power struggle begins.

Harville lays out a compelling argument that it is our "old brain," the part of of our unconsciousness that triggers our fight or flee responses. This part of our memory that remembers when we had to scream to get what we wanted, because it was the only way we could communicate. We learned quickly that the louder we screamed, the faster our needs were met. If those needs were unmet, as infants, or in childhood, we recognize our IMAGO (image) partners and unconsciously think we can play out those unmet needs, and heal ourselves. Unfortunately, our partners are usually doing the same thing: trying to heal themselves through us.
The way out of this labyrinth of confusion, hidden behind our power struggle, is a new kind of relationship, a conscious, or sacred, marriage.
"Seldom or never does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly without crisis. There is no birth of consciousness without pain." - Jung
Click here to watch a preview of “Through Conflict to Connection”

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Finding God through Intimacy

I lie with my beloved, met in a way I never expected, both on our sides, face to face, bodies intertwined, our breath becoming one, the two becoming one, our hearts wide open in pure bliss and the ultimate blending of freedom and form. In this blissful awareness of Spirit and the divine essence of our original face, eros and agape, the One and the two, comes the realization of how to hold this BE-ing in all aspects of our lives.

When I step back from this sacred place, I carry that remembered realization into my everyday life with family, friends, associates, strangers, and even those with whom I feel tension, holding the remembrance of that sacred open heart space, continuing to open my heart to all.....and even if I have to fiercely battle with another, still holding that open heart. Intimacy with one can teach us this and open our hearts to all.
I keep going deeper and deeper with you.
my depth with you
has no boundaries.
My long distance lover,
my precious beloved,
the one I've been preparing for
all my life;
I stand before you
surrendering to
and surrendering through
How we are,
Who we are,
What we are.
Nothing less than God.
Image by Camilo_C