Integral Life Practice–Chapter 1: Why Practice?


In the last weeks of 2013, I posted on Sunday a series of posts on Integral Theory based on the Essential Integral course from the Integral Institute.    This Sunday, I am starting a series of posts on Integral Life Practice.    I hope you will continue on this journey with me by reading this series of posts.

Why do this series of posts?   Because learning about theory is one thing, practicing it is another.   Also, I have been doing Integral Life Practice for the past few years and I know that it has been of tremendous benefit to me.    I want to pass on that benefit to those who may read my blog.

In a single phrase, Integral Life Practice is balanced growth, making sure that you engage in practices that improve all aspects of your being:   your body, your mind, your psyche, and your spirit.    Doing these practices creates a “cross training” that accelerates growth in all of these dimensions.

The practices come from a variety of sources:

  1. Premodern practices–derived from the world’s great wisdom traditions, including meditation practices
  2. Modern practices–derived from scientific studies of human growth and potential
  3. Postmodern practices–derived from a pluralistic and multicultural map of the human condition

The reason for wanting to develop or grow in the first place vary from person to person.   These may include such motivations as:

  • training for physical excellence, or to compete in sports
  • disciplining your mind and emotions for peak performance in business
  • deepening an already existing practice in yoga and/or meditation
  • exploring yourself psychologically, including facing your own shadow or unconscious
  • yearning for greater understanding through study and contemplation
  • devoting yourself to God by being of service to others

All of these are valid reasons, and in fact many of these can co-exist!

But the importance of practice is also to be found in the context of the word “practice”, which implies a repeated occurrence.    You can have a peak experience which gives you a temporary illumination.   Many people go to weekend workshops or retreats in order to gain such a peak experience.   The problem with all such experiences is–they fade.   You go back into the real world, face real problems, and the “peak” promptly dissolves in the rush of everyday experience.    This can sometimes give people a letdown.

What is the solution?   Integral Life Practice!   You see, a permanent growth in your consciousness can only come by repeated practice, not through “one-weekend wonders”.    The idea of entering into an Integral Life Practice isn’t as exciting as the promise of a weekend workshop that will promise to change your life.    However, the permanent gains you will experience are a lot more assured by this method.

I’m not saying don’t go on any such weekend workshops or retreats, because they may give you valuable inspiration and/or insights.    But if you want something that will elevate your everyday experience to match that weekend epiphany, then I recommend Integral Life Practice.

Having answered the question “Why?”, the next post a week from now will answer the question “What is Integral Life Practice?”

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