On these pages it is intended that we will begin to discuss and explore what it is that constitutes integral patterning, what are those aspects that are essential and fundamental for health and well-being?
It is also a space for us to share and explore relevant ideas for how kinesiology and other natural health methods work, by looking at the commonalities and constancies within them. What are the reliable and verifiable aspects which we can either experience or observe in a consistent manner that will help us to understand how these practices contribute to our health?
From the perspective of Integral Theory, nothing can be 100% wrong. So when we drop the beliefs and stories that have built up around what we do, what are we left with? How can we use that as a platform to develop a better understanding of natural health and healing using an integral framework?
Please feel free to join in and contribute your thoughts and ideas around this and related topics. We only ask that you register to join the community and that you remain respectful at all times of others ideas and opinions even if they differ from yours. They will contain some degree of benefit and usefulness.
Many thanks ……..Ben
It is that time of year where our health is far more easily affected by the cold damp weather. Everyone and their cat (and kids) seems to have a winter cold and there are an army of people with "Flu like symptoms" following their pointless winter jabs. But what can you do to make sure that you are the oasis of health, the fortress of wellness this winter? Read on and find out.
Watch this space for a great new website - coming soon!
I am pleased to annouce that a beautiful website is currently in development and will be launched soon.
I am extremely passionate about helping people to improve their health and wellbeing and specialise in natural therapies, spiritual and self-development. The new website will offer a place for you to discover more about the complementary therapies and services available from www.bencalder.co.uk and will be packed full of information on forthcoming events and resources to help you find the support you need. The new site will show much more clearly the developments in my work over the last 6 years (since this site was built) and our integration with Simon Calder's LifeForce Dynamics system and the place that my work takes with that.
The website will also have a great new look, new branding and a host of new features including online booking for events, and bespoke and exclusive membership area for you lovely folks to gain access to a host of fantastic resources. I've seen a sneak peak of the site from our friends at Six Ticks (our wonderful web developers!) , and it's looking great! It's going to be modern, mobile optimised and really user friendly! To get a feel for how the site will look, head over to the www.integralhealthshrewsbury.com that was recently redeveloped, and this site is following suit!!
I can't wait to launch our site into the world but whilst it's in development if you have any questions or would like to find out more, have a poke around our old site www.bencalder.co.uk or get in touch with me directly today.
This started out as a little discussion between my climbing partner and I about why she felt her development was starting to fall behind mine. We always climb together, we climb the same routes, we climb for the same length of time, she certainly has more tenacity and courage than I do for a lot of climbs. But recently I'm starting to go 1-2 grades ahead of her and they look like they are getting easier (sort of), so why?
So what's the difference? I decided in the end that it had nothing to do with the 3" height difference or co-ordinating harness and belay device. The big difference is that I practice meditation and Qigong daily.
I think most climbers, in fact most sports people will recognise "The Zone" that they get into when doing their activity. Those moments that come with some of the greatest achievements, when you just hit it right, mind is clear and focussed and the flow is perfect.
That's not luck by the way, that state can be trained, and not just when you are engaging in your activity, which from here in will be climbing, but this could apply to any sport.
First of all, let's get you out of the 70's a bit and dispel some fear around the idea that you're going to end up looking like some sort of hippie. That's just a choice about how you behave, you don't need to end up like this, you're not going to end up with mystical powers, you don't have to become vegan to attain enlightenment. You don't need to be anything that you aren't already. We are just going to learn how to train the mind to different capacities. Nothing more than learning new software or how a new gadget works really.
The Integral Approach - Integral Life Practice
Since 2011 I have been using an integral approach to my life, my training and how I think. When I started back to climbing again just over18 months ago, the integral framework was part of what I use to help me.
Some of the basic components of integral theory include the Quadrants;
The interior individual which gives us the experience we have in any situation. This is what we will mainly be looking at, but needless to say this is how our state of mind affects our experience in any moment.
The exterior individual in the upper right is our body as a physical object and its behaviour, representing our training, diet, how we use this amazing meat sack to haul our minds up walls.
The interior collective, lower left, is our culture. Which in climbing could be seen as your preference for Trad or Sport or Bouldering, indoor or outdoor. Each of those 'cultures' (and we're not talking yakult here) has their own rules, standards and ethics which govern the mind and behaviour of the group members, whether they realise it our not.
The exterior collective is the actual physical environment we enter into for our climbing; mountain crag, sea cliff, boulder, gym, climbing wall etc. The physical conditions of the environment affect the mindset, behaviour and ethical rules we play by and that all has an effect on how we climb.
Nothing surprising about all of that, I'm sure you recognise it.
With Integral Theory we also recognise states of consciousness. We all have access to the 3 main states, waking, dreaming and deep sleep. In meditation these states become accessible all the time from waking or being awake. So that our mind has the visionary capacity from our dreaming or Subtle state and the no-mind, dreamless causal state from deep sleep; but while I'm awake.
My meditation practice definitely allows me to be in a space inside my mind that is calm, peaceful, stable and relaxed. What in Qigong we call Song (sung) a state of relaxing and releasing. Which means that my heart rate and breathing are easier to control, my emotions and especially my fear and performance anxiety are easier to maintain on an even keel and I'm able to retain a fuller cognitive capacity while under pressure (as flight or flight from fear will limit your ability to think rationally, reasonably, logically).
Does that mean that I'm going to be levitating myself up the rocks like Luke Skywalker or coming out with things like 'The truth is there is no Spoon (or rock)'. Nope sorry that's just not how it is.
But what it can do if you are willing to practice and let this part of you develop and grow. It will serve you in more areas of your life than I want to write about right now. But you can find a great break down here 10-reasons-why-every-rock-climber-should-meditate.
I'm not trying to teach you how to meditate here, but just how those characters at the wall who climb with beautiful flow and poise, have something that you are missing right now. And it is not some mystical elixir of genetics or upbringing. These heros and heroines of climbing are in a state that we can all develop given the right time/space/conditions. These are things you can create with just a little time every day. It doesn't have to cut into any other activity you have, it fits as part of any activity you do. In addition it can be a beautiful start and a peaceful end to any day, making each and every day something easier to be in, happier, with greater flow.
It can also be something that contributes massively towards healing and repair of the body, some of which you can understand through this interesting article by Spiral Praxis .
Because from an Integral point of view you can never experience less than the 4 Quadrants above in any one moment. Which means that your state of mind is 25% of your success in climbing. This is a big percentage to improve on. But even more it has an impact on your body and behaviour in a massive way. So with the simple inclusion of a basic meditation practice, you could develop your climbing to the next level or the next 3-4 grades. Not just in a halting, forced, occasional success. But consistent, steady, healthy behaviour, that will keep you more aware and reduce the likelihood of accidental unconscious behaviour that could lead to injury.
So go enjoy this most amazing of practices and how it can add so much to your climbing and life in general. I'd love to hear your comments and experiences below. This is just my experience and my idea, that I hope you get some benefit from this life changing practice.
Climb well, climb healthy, climb safely
It's a little under 8 weeks until I embark on my first serious climbing trip in over 17 years. Don't ask why it has been so long between them, here are too many stories to tell, only that I chose other things, and now I'm choosing to climb again. The motivation and inspiration that is this generating in me is truly beautiful.
Today is a very special day, it marks the quarter day between winter solstice and spring equinox, we're half way back to the point where there is more light in the day than dark. As we hit this point, I wanted to share what I've gained from all the practice in the dark I have been doing for the last 4-5 months.
Hard to believe that this is the last Diet, Health and Fitness show on Calon FM.
It's been nearly 18 months since I first started coming on the show and its been a really amazing time. Chatting about topics that I love, hanging out with great people. So this last show is just a bit of what our highlights have been for 2016 and what we are looking forward to in 2017.
Another chance to listen back to the last part of my guest slot on Calon FM's Empowerment Hour with host Denise Oliver.
We talk about spirit tattooing, integral theory and the development of the Centre for Integral Health in Shrewsbury UK
It has been a great opportunity for me to talk about my work and influences and certainly made me realise that there is so much more that we could have talked about, easily filled another few shows. But until the next opportunity for something like this, you just get to enjoy the story so far.
If you would like to ask questions or comment, please feel free to do so below and thanks again for listening.
Here's your chance to listen back to the 2nd part of the radio interview done with Denise Oliver on Calon FM's Empowerment Hour, broadcast live on December 8th 2016.
Listen to the banter and enthusiasm as we chat through my kinesiology career and all the fun that has brought over the last 14 years.
Feel welcome to comment and join the discussion below, thanks for listening
Here is the first of 3 part series looking at my life and career to date.
Along with some great banter with Empowerment Hour presenter Denise Oliver, you get to hear the early parts of my life here. Where I grew up, early influences and the steps that brought me to the beginning of my career in health.
Feel free to join the conversation and comment on any of the topics, or check out the rest of the site if you'd like to know more about my work.
Another chance to listen back to my guest spot on the Calon FM Diet, Health and Fitness show on 8th September 2016.
In this show host Denise Oliver and I talk about autumn foraging, Vital Essence Breathwork, the Shadow Self, cacao ceremonies and the importance of maintaining your Vitamin D levels from the end of September
Just click on the film below to listen back to the whole show.
Perhaps not the most obvious breakfast dish, but certainly on that is becoming a stong favourite for me in these colder months of the year.
Kale for breakfast, really? Yep! Why? Because the rules about what you eat when are not necessarily the ones that work for your body.
Carrying on from the last post where I talked briefly about how damp cold foods were not considered ideal for the cold damp months as they can weaken the energy of the spleen and affect your immune system, and lead to a lack of digestive fire.
One of my favourite things to have with my eggs and avocado from breakfast is salad. But at this time of the year it becomes too cold and damp for me, so time to effectively make warm salad.
Quite easy to just but a knob of butter in the frying pan, have the heat fairly high, shred some kale and let it cook for a while on its own. It will reduce down loads so you can use quite a bit. If you cook it alone on a high heat you can make it crispy a bit like crispy seaweed, but less salty (so better for your kidney energy and adrenals).
Turn in the roughly chopped fennel and mushrooms. Add in some pumpkin, sesame and hemp seeds to taste. A bit of salt and pepper (although I often just use this as garnish as I don't want to pull too much moisture out the mushrooms), and bob's your breakfast side dish.
I find this so filling and useful. Lots of goon nutrients, lots of protein from the mushrooms. Great start to my day.
What did I use (all organic of course):
- Shredded kale
- Rough chopped fennel
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
Please feel free to comment on your experience with this or with any recipe variations you want to suggest for this.
Winter is not a great time to be consuming cold damp foods. In Chinese Medicine this can make the energy of the spleen very damp and allow damp conditions into the body more easily, affecting the grounded nature of the Spleen/Earth energy.
I like my fruit, and after coming home from holiday, not much being in the kitchen but a collection of apples, pears and a few other bits, I needed to eat. But aware that the damp cold nature of the fruits at that point would not really be a good post holiday tonic for my digestion, I came up with another plan.
Very few people find the initial stages of meditation easy, even fewer find the intemediate stages of practice easy. I've been moving around the intemediate stage for sometime now and recently found a way to help myself to sit with more ease, just by acknowledging the first point of resistance, my resistance to just sit.
Here's another chance to listen back to my guest appearance on Calon FM with the fabulous Denise Oliver on 30th June 2016
In this show you'll get to listen to us discussing Fascia Ball Workouts, Chi Kung, Epigenetics, Access Bars, the effects of adrenaline and the battle of the Somne.
So standing practice is a cornerstone of my chi kung practice, something I have worked with on and off for 25yrs. There are times when I love it and feel I'm in a state of complete song, other times where I ache and struggle and wrestle with my mind. An encounter with a new client who had quite extreme Parkinson's shaking lead me to exploring how shaking can lead us to stillness.
I always find it really interesting to observe someone attending a Chi Kung class with me for the first time. I get to observe the relationship they have with their body. How they relate to it, how they communicate and translate what they hear into something they do, what are their listening skills like. It is a moment to observe their Karma's and the impact their choice have had on their structure, the story of their lives that is right there in how they use their bodies.
We know from the shift in the weather this week, that we are winter side of the summer solstice now, the descent down. It's slightly windy but bright and warm enough that we decide our Monday Chi Kung practice class at Centre for Integral Health will be in the Quarry park. Such an image to have us standing, while multiple zombies walk around being led by the magnet of the phone in their hands.
It is a beautiful warm day where as I walk to the park, escort for the excitable Poppy, knowing exactly where she wants to walk. This is her time, so I can relax into myself and enjoy the journey.
If you've not been to the Gladstone Park in Hawarden, it is a beatuiful place, lots of well aged trees of many species, a lush valley on the fringes of North Wales, UK.
The location inspires a shift into more subtle states and a change of awareness in my body. I can feel the energy sinking to the earth, my chi drops, my fascia is melting down my body as unconsciously held parts relax and allow themselves to melt, not only by the beautiful warm sun that kisses my skin.
So many beautiful places to just stop, stand, be present and feel and explore the relationship taking place in my body, how I respond to the environment, how we are responding with each other.
As I stand I feel my bones rising, my fascia sinking, feel my feel on the ground and the state I regard as Song becoming more present as moments pass by. I feel like between earth and sky I am one. Poppy is also enjoying her relationship with the environment as she connects to the earth in what looks to be a heavenly way for her.
I walk on a bit further to find some shade and stand for a little longer in the shade of a mature Oak tree, one of many in this park. Then sit in the cool of the tree as my breathing dissolves any remaining boundaries between my Self and the Environment. Time dissolves.
I walk back to the gate of the park and walk back favoring the shade.
These moments are what makes life for me. the moments where you find song, soften and dissolve. Feeling full and free, everywhere and nowhere.
So last weekend I was working at the Eden Festival in Scotland, offering Bowen Fascia Release Technique and teaching a Chi Kung class every day. The ground was uneven and with changes in the weather over the weekend softening things underfoot, I can remember thinking just how good Chi Kung is in training proprioception and developing body awareness.
Another chance to listen back to the Calon FM's Diet, Health & Fitness show with Denise Oliver for April. My regular guest spot this month saw us talking about a range of topics including the upcoming Chi Kung classes, Chi Kung in the Park, Avocado peelers and much more.
Feel welcome to make comments or ask questions about any of the topics on this month's show.
To listen to the show, click on the Youtube link below