Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening
From Preface of the book
Welcome to the world of Integral! The fact that you have picked up this book means that you are ready to begin not just thinking about Integral but practicing and applying it as well. This is a truly momentous occasion, to judge from the developmental research itself.
Developmental models are in general agreement that human beings, from birth, go through a series of stages or waves of growth and development. The lower, earlier, junior stages are initial, partial, and fragmented views of the world, whereas the upper stages are integrated, comprehensive, and genuinely holistic. Because of this, the earlier stages are often called “first tier,” and the higher stages are called “second tier.”
The difference between the two tiers is truly profound. As pioneering developmental researcher Clare Graves put it, with second tier an individual “goes through a momentous leap of meaning.” That leap is what Integral is all about—Integral Thinking and—yes—Integral Practice. At the Integral stages of development, the entire universe starts to make sense, to hang together, to actually appear as a uni-verse—a “one world”—a single, unified, integrated world that unites not only different philosophies and ideas about the world, but different practices for growth and development as well.
Integral Life Practice is just such an integrated practice, a practice that will help you grow and develop to your fullest capacities—to your ultimate Freedom and greatest Fullness in the world at large (in relationships, in work, in spirituality, in career, in play, in life itself). ILP is about developing your greatest FREEDOM from the world—freedom from your limitations, freedom from fragmentation, freedom from partialities—and your truest FULLNESS in the world—a fullness that includes and embraces all the seemingly partial aspects of yourself and your world into a seamless, whole, ultimately fulfilled life. Freedom and Fullness—to transcend all of life and to include all of life, unfolding and fulfilling your greatest capacities—is what Integral Life Practice is about.
As such, this “transcending and including” contains modules that address practices for the body, mind, spirit, and shadow dimensions of your own being. Because it is inclusive, this practice contains a distilled and condensed series of practices that are taken from premodern, modern, and postmodern approaches to growth and development. It is an “all-inclusive” practice in the sense that it takes the very best practices from all of them, and puts them together in a larger framework that uses—and makes sense of—all of them. Premodern practices include the world’s great wisdom traditions and the meditation practices that drive them. Modern practices include scientific studies of human growth and ways to induce it. Postmodern practices include a pluralistic and multicultural composite map of the human territory—the territory of you—and ways to include (and not marginalize) all of the important dimensions of your own being (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—in self, culture, and nature).
Putting all of these together creates a “cross training” for human growth and spiritual awakening, a cross training that dramatically accelerates all of its dimensions—body, mind, spirit, and shadow—producing faster, more effective, more efficient practices than were ever possible prior to this time. It is the comprehensive, truly holistic, extraordinarily inclusive nature of Integral Life Practice that makes it the simplest practice you can do to truly wake up. Other approaches have part of the puzzle and therefore give you partial practices (and partial successes), whereas Integral Life Practice gives you a composite and comprehensive practice that covers all the essential bases, increasing the effectiveness and quickness of each, compared to when they are practiced alone. It is the dramatically increased speed and effectiveness of ILP that is one of its hallmarks.
ILP is practicing from the leading edge of evolution itself, from the Integral stages and waves that are just beginning to evolutionarily unfold in humanity at large. Being grounded in these Integral stages, ILP embodies, emerges, and attracts individuals to the same stages that produced it. Put differently, Integral Life Practice is a second-tier practice—it comes from second-tier, and it draws consciousness itself to second tier. Thus, it trains both “altitude” and “aptitude”—altitude or vertical growth in consciousness, and aptitude or specific training in horizontal capacities. All of this is included in the Integral Life Practice, which the following pages will fully train you in. In short, ILP is a practice aimed at helping you discover your own “momentous leap of meaning,” a leap that will radiantly affect every aspect of your life.
So, once again, welcome to Integral. One of the advantages of this particular book is the team of writers that created it. They have a broad and fully qualified exposure to Integral Life Practice, both in its theory and in its actual practice. The writing team is an integration of the richly different backgrounds and perspectives of the co-authors. Although I did not write any of these chapters myself, I fully participated in the writing and its review, and oversaw the integration of the various perspectives and experiences of the writers, reaching across generational and typological differences. That’s what Integral Life Practice is all about—integration— and that is one of the many strengths of this book. The style turned out to be accessible, transparent, and covering difficult topics with an easy-to- understand clarity and humanity. I’m very happy with the results, and proud to put my name on it.
Integral Life Practice is, as the name implies, the practice aspect of Integral Theory. Integral Theory, in both its original form and critical alterations of it, has had a profound impact on several million readers around the world. If you want to just do Integral Theory and not also Integral Practice, that is fine. (Integral Theory is itself a mental praxis, and it summarizes practices in all of the major dimensions—it is a composite Map of the world’s most important methodologies.) But if we take that composite Map and turn it into a composite Practice, the result is Integral Life Practice, a practice that is therefore grounded in the very best of Integral Theory itself. For this reason, ILP is a truly ground- breaking and leading-edge evolutionary practice for waking up.
Thank you for picking up this book and beginning your own “mo- mentous leap of meaning.” If you are ready, then let’s get started!
Ken Wilber Denver, Colorado, Winter 2008
Integral Cross Training in
Here are a few more possible reasons for engaging an ILP:
• Embracing and working with crisis, pain, or suffering
• Becoming a better person—on all levels, in all areas
• Living with integrity and excellence
• Getting over yourself
• Waking up!
• As a way to understand everything or make sense of it all
• Living according to your highest ideals
• Becoming more fully alive and creative
• Finding and/or living your deepest purpose
• Loving and caring for others more fully
• Making your highest contribution
• Communing with life, the universe, and Spirit
• Participating in the evolution of consciousness
• Because you’re in love with the Mystery (or God)
• No specific reason—it’s just what you’re drawn to do
Many people come to ILP after an experience with a specific type of practice, which, at a certain point, no longer seems full or inclusive enough. ILP makes room for you to bring everything to the path:
• You may have experience training for physical excellence or com- petitive sports.
• Maybe you’ve disciplined your mind and emotions for peak per- formance in business.
• Perhaps you’ve practiced yoga or meditation, maybe even for decades.
• You may have done deep psychological exploration, facing your shadow and exploring your deep psyche.
• You might have come to practice out of your deeply felt devotion to God or a beloved teacher or guide.
• Maybe your interest in ILP comes through your scholarship, in- sight, and thirst for understanding.
Integral Life Practice is . . .
The Ultimate in Cross-Training, working synergistically on body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature.
Modular, allowing you to mix and match practices in specific areas or “modules.”
Scalable, adjusting to however much—or little—time you have, down to the 1-Minute Modules.
Customizable to your individual lifestyle—you design a program that works for you, and adapt it on an as needed basis.
Distilled, boiling down the essence of traditional practices— without the cultural or religious baggage—to provide a highly concentrated and effective form of practice for post-postmodern life.
Integral, based on AQAL technology, an “All Quadrants, All Levels” framework for mapping the many capacities inherent in human beings.
Please see my related post
Key Sources of Research
Integral Life Practices