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Leading transpersonal psychologist and integral philosopher Ken Wilber says, "The word integral means comprehensive, inclusive, non-marginalizing, embracing. Integral approaches to any field attempt to be exactly that: to include as many perspectives, styles, and methodologies as possible within a coherent view of the topic. In a certain sense, integral approaches are “meta-paradigms,” or ways to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching."
The integral approach is radically inclusive and explicitly nonsectarian, nondogmatic, nonreligious. Wilber again:
"Everybody is right. Everybody has a grain of truth that has to be included...No human mind can produce 100% error...Therefore, every single major approach to human knowledge has some degree of truth, and the integral approach insists upon honoring those truths. The tricky part then is how they all fit together, and that's where the game gets interesting. But it's an entirely different kind of game to play. Usually if you go to school in philosophy, or go to school in psychology, or in any of the disciplines--if you take up a school of psychotherapy, for example, they'll spend a great deal of time telling you why the other schools of thought are mistaken...We don't take that approach. For us, every single approach has to have some grain of truth, and so now you're asking a different question and you're playing a different game, and the game here is: how do they all fit together into a larger coherent structure that honors all these important insights?"
Integral practice is about applying the integral approach to our lives to cultivate growth and development individually and collectively.
Integral practice is an outgrowth of various integral theories and philosophies as they intersect with spiritual practices, holistic health modalities, and transformative regimens associated with the New Paradigm and the human potential movement. Some ways to describe integral practice are:
• the experiential application of integral theory
• the holistic disciplines we consciously employ to nurture ourselves and others, and most specifically those practices that both inspire and sustain growth in many dimensions at once
• to address and support each aspect of life with the goal of fully realizing all levels of human potential
• to enhance 'horizontal' holistic health and 'vertical' developmental growth simultaneously
These self-care practices target different areas of personal development, such as physical, emotional, creative, and psychosocial, in a combined, synergistic fashion. They may have different emphases depending on the theory that supports each approach, but most include a spiritual, introspective, or meditative component as a major feature. The objectives of integral practice can be loosely defined as well-being and wholeness, with, in most cases, an underlying imperative of personal and social transformation and evolution.
There is also the question of how to provide necessary customization and individualization of practice, while avoiding a 'cafeteria model' that encourages practitioners to choose components according to their own strengths, rather than what is necessary for integral growth and development.
The following are examples of different modalities of integral practice, listed in approximate order of inception:
• Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga
• Integral Transformative Practice (ITP), created by George Leonard and Michael Murphy
• Holistic Integration, created by Ramon Albarada and Marina Romero
• Integral Lifework, created by T. Collins Logan
• Integral Life Practice (ILP), based on Ken Wilber's AQAL framework
The driving motivation is a desire for multidimensional growth in contrast to imbalanced development, perhaps best put by one of the most enlightened sages of the 20th century, integral pioneer Sri Aurobindo:
"The Divine is in its essence infinite and its manifestation too is multitudinously infinite. If that is so, it is not likely that our true integral perfection in being and in nature can come by one kind of realisation alone; it must combine many different strands of divine experience. It cannot be reached by the exclusive pursuit of a single line of identity till that is raised to its absolute; it must harmonise many aspects of the Infinite. An integral consciousness with a multiform dynamic experience is essential for the complete transformation of our nature."
'Satsang' is from the Sanskrit (sat = good, true; sanga = company) for a community of seekers. Satsang is recommended by many spiritual traditions the world over for spiritual growth because the company of other seekers can be of great help to each person through mutual inspiration.
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