The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 1 of 6

The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 1 of 6

The Importance of an Integral Life Practice pt 1 of 6

This series of blogs is there to give you an idea of what the value of Integral Life Practice is, giving you a bigger picture view to why you should be doing the little things you know are good and healthy for you. I certainly know that it has helped develop my practice and given me a much greater motivation to continue doing the little things that I need to do to help balance the develop my life, my mind, body and spirit on a number of levels. 

and of course, for me it fits in really nicely with the integral study and development of the integral health model that I have been working on for the last few years.

Much of the material that I will share with you in this 6 part series of blogs is taken directly from the work on Integral Life Practice as it was developed by Ken Wilber and Terry Pattern and more detail and other resources can be found at their site

Integral Life Practice is a whole and balanced approach to practicing for life –

  • Our individual lives
  • The lives of others
  • The life of our planet

ILP contains a series of practices held together in a framework so that you have a way to conceptualise and understand how your practice should be planned. The practices and the framework are equally important as it gives you direction to your practice, which is especially useful if you find it difficult to practice for practice sake, and makes sense of what you are doing, giving every thing a place and a purpose. The practices themselves actually ensure you are actually doing something, not just thinking about it.

By Integral we mean: comprehensive, balanced, inclusive. Something that is actually essential to life and to holding things together. When we lack an ILP in whatever form it takes, we will invariably end up with a life that is less fulfilling, less healthy and less functional, being able to do less of the things that we want, with the energy and motivation we need to do them and getting less than the results we are hoping for.

By Life we mean: Well Life....... The whole package, Love, Consciousness, The body, Relationships, Work, Emotions, The mystery of existence, you know, Life. That thing you are hear to live and experience to its fullest. It's not at all about work, job, career (really you say, tell us more), its about the conscious experience you have connecting to the existence you are living.

Practice is something we do, usually (and in this context) to improve ourselves, to make ourselves, happier, stronger, smarter, more capable of helping and loving others. We practice in order to fulfil the potential of who we really are, living a life that we are inspired and motivated to live.

ILP has a series of key features about it that make it unlike almost any other practice you have done before.

  • Like Spiritual Cross Training it working synergistically on body, mind and spirit in self, culture and nature
  • It is modular, allowing you to mix and match practices in specific areas, and as long as you are doing a little bit in each area on a regular basis, you've got it.
  • It is scalable so that you can adjust it to however much or little time you have, right down to 1 minute practices. Which if you take that there are 4 key areas, that means you can do the whole of the programme in as little as four minutes a day.
  • It is customised to your individual lifestyle, you design a programme that works for you and can be adapted at need. You choose a practice in each of the key areas that suits you. You may already be doing practices which would cover some of the key areas, but having the ILP framework ensures you are having a balanced practice and not just overdoing it in one area of your life.
  • It is distilled. Boiling down traditional practices, without the cultural or religious baggage, to provide a highly concentrated form of practice for post-postmodern life.
  • It is Integral, based on AQAL technology, an "All Quadrant, All Level" framework for mapping the many capacities inherent to human beings.

So if that doesn't seem like a good enough reason already to get going with it, keep reading, there's much more to say (and this is just the intro, you'll have to wait for the rest to find out more about each practice).

Rather than try to work on every Line, Level and State at once, ILP highlights 4 core areas to focus on at first and develop a regular practice in before you branch out into the auxiliary modules.
These  core areas represent the most essential areas of practice and should constitute part of your daily practice in some way or form. An ILP module is a specific set of practices that relate to one aspect of your being.

Like rooms in a house, if you take away any of these fundamental practices then you don't really have a complete house. The auxiliary practices are then optional if you want to expand your space once you have the concrete basics under your belt. You can engage in any of the practices from any area, the key is that you don't do too much in one area while neglecting the others. This is what makes it integral, is that we can have an eye on the bigger picture while knowing that we have support in all areas of our life.

The four core areas are there to focus on:

  • Body (The 3 Bodies of Gross Physical Body, Subtle Energy Body and Causal Body of Vast Spaciousness)
  • Mind
  • Spirit
  • Shadow

Each one of these areas is essential if we are to have balanced development and therefore balanced growth and healthy experience of life. Too much focus in one area is not Integrally Healthy and not suggested as the best way to make the most of life.

Whether we believe it or not, we all have an ILP. We all eat food, move to some degree, have some kind of mental capacities and have some level of spiritual practice, even if we wouldn't recognise it as such. What this is really about is making that practice better, making it more conscious and making it something that you can adjust to your life so that it works for you and doesn't feel like a burden or a drain.

In the next series on the post we will begin to explore each of the four core areas in more detail, giving you ideas of practices you can do for your self.

In the meantime, why don't you have a think about what your life practice already consists of and what you are already doing in each of those four areas. Is there one or more areas where you are doing nothing, is the majority of your life practice focussed in just one area? Share your reflections in the comments, I'd love to hear from you.

If you are too impatient to wait that long, you can take a look at some of the FREE resources for practices you can find right here on my site or you can look at some of the material on around ILP.

Until part 2, stay healthy

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