Why Integral?
Thanks for reading my first newsletter! “Integral” underlies my work, so I would like to take time in this first issue to explain why Ken Wilber’s Integral Map is so important to me. People with whom I live and work hear me regularly on this subject, but it occurs to me that my wider circle has not.
My journey towards “integral” began in graduate school when I discovered that human beings have the potential to become so much more than we already are. As I absorbed information coming out of the human potential movement, I developed a fierce passion for human development. Ken Wilber was an important voice in that movement. His greatest contribution to the field of psychotherapy, and so to me, was the book No Boundary. He cut through the “my method is better than your method” ethos of the time, by simply and clearly showing that the various therapeutic models of the day, each worked for people at different levels of consciousness. 
While it may seem like common sense today, in the seventies this was revolutionary. It helped me understand why my method, Gestalt therapy, did not work with everyone, and so paved the way for me to learn additional methodologies so that I could serve my clients better. I committed 25 years as a psychotherapist to the study and practice of human growth and development - my client’s and my own. 
As my work matured, I became interested in the spiritual dimension of human development and so at 50, I went to graduate school seeking the relationship between spirituality and psychology. I’d found Wilber’s earlier work compelling, so I included his newer material in my theological studies. I have to admit that, much to the consternation of a couple of professors, I read more Wilber than anyone else during that time. Why? Because by this time, his work had developed into a comprehensive map of human potential. He was synthesizing a vast array of information now available to us from various cultures, spiritual traditions, and academic disciplines. Nothing was left out; everything was viewed with an eye towards seeing both its value and it’s drawbacks. It helped me to situate all that I'd learned.
Most of all, the Integral Map gave me hope. Hope, because he was mapping the territory of a past I had traveled, and the territory of a future that I firmly believe possible. Hope because it tracks the territory that humanity has traversed over all these millions of years, and maps that trajectory into the future. While humans admittedly meander rather than make progress in a straight line, to paraphrase Michael Murphy, our trajectory is unmistakably forward.
And here’s the thing, with each move forward, our circle of care and concern gets wider. Conscious of this, we can see the value of the past and so bring its best elements forward. This is what it means to evolve. The research is clear, humans evolve. And as we evolve we care more and more for the global community.
The Integral Map isn’t an invention of Ken Wilber’s; it is a synthesis of the territory of our individual and cultural development by a brilliant man whose big heart cares for the future of our world. And though the territory we’re living in right now is a heartbreaking challenge, Ken’s work points to our capacity to create a much different future. More and more people are developing beyond the ethnocentric worldview that keeps us separated from each other. I’m watching it happen. I’m working to help make it happen. This is why “integral” is my framework. It maps our capacity to love more deeply and widely. From this space we will change the world.

Integral Coaching honors both human complexity and the difficulty inherent in change.  Change is often challenging because each person has unique way of approaching life. Using a number of assessment lenses to gain insight into how one is addressing a problem is the first step to developing a strategy for change. That current way of operating is then expanded through the use of practices specifically designed for each individual in order to build competencies necessary to make the desired changes.

Face to Face

Because I find the Integral Map so compelling, I love to offer it to others. In addition to teaching in the Bay Area, I've started teaching on line. In the spring I'll be offering two telecourses: Introduction to Integral  & Practical Integral for Helping Professionals. The intro course is designed to teach the basic aspects and whet people's appetite for deeper exploration.
Face to Face


Each month I'll recommend resources you may find helpful in your own journey. This month's recommendation is Sally Kempton's new book Meditation For The Love Of It published by Sounds True. See Sally at the grand opening of The Center for World Spirituality (www.centerforworldspirituality) March 5th in San Francisco. You'll hear more about this project that is close to my heart in later newsletters.

Copyright © 2011 Barbara Alexander, All rights reserved.

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Barbara Alexander · 238 Ridgeway Ave · Fairfax, California 94930 · USA

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