Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Integral Incubator Day 1: Without Words

See preface piece "On Arrival"
My hotel here in Boulder is directly across the street from a Whole Foods, so I got to start my day with their granola bar (berries, coconut, almonds & 3 kinds of honey--but no sugar) and the short bus ride to Boulder Integral, shown at right.

Our morning session was about introducing ourselves in various fun ways in the high-ceilinged room that used to be a church. Then we heard intros from the coaches we have access to while here: Sue Brightman, Bert Parlee, Nomali Perera, leader Jeff Salzman himself, and several others. Being of clear intention, I dove under the legs of people scrambling to the signup board and got myself one of the slots with Jeff. (A couple of the other coaches are good matches for me as well, and I'm hoping to meet with them later in the week.)

Meeting with Jeff
Jeff Salzman
Jeff asked good questions about my plans for sharing my book with Christians, seekers, and Integralists and offered several good tips for the plan, including that I might be able to do an interview with Ken Wilber. I told him what I really valued from him is his thoughts on the potential awkwardness of talking about the book in a mixed audience--being able to share my honoring of each group's contributions. He said being able to do that is the essence of Integral. He laughed when I asked for his blessing.

Rev. Karen and Breathing Room
I "accidently" ended up having lunch with Rev. Karen Francis, a petite young English woman who says she left the new age to become a Presbyterian pastor. Her congregation outside Boise, Idaho, includes ultraconservative ranchers and liberal city folk. "How do they keep from splitting up?" I asked. "They believe God assigned them to this parish and so they have to work things out," she said.

Rev Karen Francis
Rev. Karen is using ideas from Integral to bridge the gap. "Instead of implying that my amber (roles and rules) folks are wrong, I encourage them to go deeper into their own beliefs and learn to express them better. And that seems to give some breathing room for growth all around," she said. "In fact, instead of attacking him in friendly debate, liberals in the congregation began rethinking their positions as well." Rev. Karen regrets not having anyone to talk with about integral (or as she says, "inTEGral") ideas. I suggested she'd enjoy communicating with Rev. Harriet Quigley, the Spiritual Living minister who first turned me on to Ken Wilber. (Which reminds me, yes, my other hotel mate from Vancouver does know Rev. Sophia who I've done some work with on "Three Faces of God".) Most surprising fact about soft-spoken Rev Karen? She met her husband playing Dungeons and Dragons.

An "unplanned" performance
In the afternoon we had a work session that felt like the most focused study hall you ever sat in. Then in the evening we each did what I'll call a performance art piece. I won't give away the details except that we were instructed NOT to plan anything in advance. This, of course, is impossible for me. So I made a deal with Spirit: I planned the first part and let it take over the rest. The result was something quite magnificent, transformational, that moved me as deeply as it apparently did the audience. I told the essence of my book without words in 60 seconds. The glorious feeling of freedom and connection with God it left me with will probably be my most lasting memory--and powerful result--of my week here.

Fascinating People
"Kid in a candy shop" is how one participant described the feeling of the opportunities available to us here. Here are examples of some people I am meeting--or hope to meet, because it already seems the time is going very quickly.
  • Costa Rican Jose Fernandez has played piano at the White House, been a radio talk show host, and university professor who is on his way to DC for a Doctorate in Public Policy. He's a sweetie and eager to join the DC Ken Wilber Meetup. I already want him in our Transformational Practice Group as well.
  • A couple of integral artists including Jolen Monheim whose project is "Swimming in the Ocean of Becoming" - photographing dancers underwater and manipulating the images in Photoshop.
  • A couple of people working on integral novels.
  • Several people interested in socially responsible investing or forms of capitalism that refocus on quality of life.
  • Several life coaches, meditation instructors, or yoga instructors seeking to broaden their practices and their businesses.
  • A couple people in life transition whose project is to figure out what their project is
More tomorrow: Day 2

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