ILP Kit Now Available in Dry Roasted, but Will They Ever Have Chocolate Covered?

song du jour:Whip It, Devo

mood: bloody well over it already (imagine me rolling my eyes)

Note: if you're about to blow off this post due to it's length, then at least do me the honor of reading the last 2 paragraphs! Thanks, V

Lately, I've seen more than a little blogged on life practices, particularly Integral Institute's new and now sold out Integral Life Practice Kit. At the Atlanta Integral Salon meetings the hyper-masculinity of ILP/ITP is an old topic. I've been bugging the men in the group for well over a year now about how anything truly integral depends on including both masculine and feminine energies, and I've been heavily backed by the other women in the group.

For those, who have been spared a jump down the rabbit hole, the notion of ILP/ITP is that by cross training our bodies and minds, we become better wholes. That's the masculine way of describing it. Nothing wrong with that, except that at least half of you out there are probably thinking, "Sheesh, I gotta DO something else?", or worse, "Sheesh, how utterly tedious and boring!"

My hard line/embracing opinion is that if you're not engaging in activities with masculine AND feminine energies, then it ain't the least bit integral, and it certainly won't be particularly transformational. Yes, ebuddha, practice is a masculine word. You don't catch many women saying, "I've have to do my ________ practice now." It's like going to the ladies room. We don't' talk about it endlessly, find it a source of amusement, or drone on about the necessity of it. We simply go. ...and the word modules, ugh. Module is word that is best used only in sentences with such words as lunar, Apollo, and mission.

Do we really buy into the idea that if it's not boring and hard, then it's not worthwhile? Why don't we just have an endurance test at 'the end?' Whoever can talk the longest about the benefits of his ILP with the most boring and hyper-masculine terms is declared the Most Integral Grand Poo Pa and the only human known to have reached 5th tier. (Yawn.)

When my friend, Matt, first said, "So, V, what's your ILP?", and I went, "uh..." He asked me what I did to engage body, mind, and spirit in self, culture, and nature. Now, to about half of you out there, that might not sound so icky, right? That doesn't mean everyone will want to jump on the bandwagon, but I'd bet that concept is not a horrendous boring turn off.

It works like this. Draw a tick-tac-toe bored. At the top write the words body, mind, and spirit, one word above each square. Along the side, write self, culture, and nature to the side of the boxes. Now fill in the boxes with what you already do and want to keep doing. Example: in the box in the middle, which would be mind in culture, you could put the obvious, salons, book clubs, political activism, which are all great, but you might put down something as simple as "those amazing eye opening conversations I have at lunch with my coworker, Louise." Seriously. If that revs up your left or right brain in a way that inspires you, and you do it consistently, it counts. If you take a dance class at the beach on a regular basis(I wish!), put it in all these boxes: body in self, body in culture, body in nature, spirit in self, spirit in culture, spirit in nature. Put more than one activity in each box.

Patterns will emerge. You will notice that many activities will fill in the blank for more than one box each. For what's still blank, you will probably realize that there are new things you've wanted to try (learning Spanish, going to a meditation group, taking a painting class), or old things you'd like to start back (yoga classes, various forms of meditation). Put them down. Stretch yourself. Engage your own intuition about what's missing from your life. Suddenly life has just opened up a little space where you thought there was no time. ILP figured out. Please make checks payable to Victoria Lansford. ;-) Hey, I'm one of the success stories. Doing what Matt showed me, cured my frequently recurring migraines!

You wouldn't believe, though, how many really bright, with-it guys get stumped by that kind of matrix explanation of ILP, and so if a kit that irons it all out for them makes them happy, that's fine. Some people need to be told what to do with as few choices as possible, lest they get very confused. There area also many people out there, who've been clamoring for something other than books. It's about damned time a think tank based on the concept of embracing as much as possible ventured into multimedia formats. After 20+ books, we're all craving a little something in addition. Personally, I'm usually kind of a sucker for the well marketed kit. I won't always buy it, but standing in line at Barnes & Noble, I'll pick up and look at every fung shui, desk water garden, zen this or that thing in a cute box. I get the appeal of one stop shopping to up your life quality, but here's my big big frustration with the dryness of it all:

At one salon meeting, the guys, who'd been to some of I-I's week long seminars, were saying that the facilitators told them that a consistent life practice is easy. Just "sit, lift, heal." (Meditate, lift weights, do something to help others.) With my eyebrows about a millimeter from my hairline, I looked at one of the women in the group and said, can you imagine these guys' knee jerk reactions if one of us came back and declared the official edict was "embrace, dance, heal?!?" I got a lot of blank looks from a lot of really smart wonderful guys.

That's the problem. No matter how 'enlightened' most men are, there is still this culturally pervasive belief that the cut to the chase, streamlined, no nonsense way to go about everything is THE ONLY way things should be done, and by golly, if Integral Institute outlines "gold-star practices" then everyone ought to just skip everything else in favor what really works, right? Disclaimer: Although these practices have been shown to lower blood pressure and produce a sense of calm, associated with those perceived as enlightened, enlightenment is not guaranteed, and overzealousness of this product may cause arguments and potential breakups with female romantic partners.

The masculine mode as the only way feeds into our clinging Puritan ideal that if you're not being disciplined all the time, then you're not accomplishing anything, but discipline in all things squeezes the life out of creativity! We can't begin to address environmental problems or world hunger until we can approach these mammoth endeavors with new and better ideas, which will only come from greater creativity, and by worrying almost exclusively about discipline, we've stripped the creativity out of life like we've farmed the nutrients right out of the foods we eat.

Examples of masculine activities or practices: sitting meditation, weight lifting, analytical writing, Iyengar yoga, break dancing, some styles of hip hop dancing, reading philosophy, sports, most blogging, taking a primarily disciplined approach to anything, engaging in the purely directional, focusing on "mind over matter," focusing on emptiness

Examples of feminine activities or practices: sacred dancing, Ashtanga yoga, drawing, painting, (almost anything in the arts has a strong feminine component even blacksmithing), Eastern and Middle Eastern styles of dancing, strolling in the park (on the grass not the concrete), lyrical styles of jazz and modern dancing, anything where one can revel in the sensuality of the moment, anything that focuses on opening or fullness, anything that engages creativity

That last word gets left off most of the time, doesn't it, and yet what study of business or science doesn't show that creativity is VITAL to us all? How are you going to solve the world problems you like to discuss if you're only a sitting, weight lifting dude, determined to better the world by explaining that we all operate from different value memes, and everyone else just needs to hurry up and move to a higher one already?

If you really only see value in transcendence (as so many so called integralite men do), then take yourself up to the mountain top already, and stop torturing your spouse or girlfriend (who likely thinks you're from Mars), or do us single girls a favor, and remove yourself from the pool of single available men. ILP by any other name is a way to connect it all not an escape!!! I find a lot of men are so caught up in trying to accomplish their goals before they die that they fail to notice that their obsessions with meditation, working out, succeeding at work, etc. are the very Atman project that Wilber warns against. As my friend and fellow integralite, Joe, is fond of saying, only the ego wants to transcend the ego. So, if you're going to die, and there's no escape, why would you scoff at opening fully to what's here? Creation, chaos, energy, primordial ooze, take a dive in it. The water's warm.

It's entirely possible that the accepted notions of stripping everything away in order to feel present, such as one friend's example of eating consciously is to stand at the kitchen counter "just me and the chicken," is a way to cope with the way men's brains are ordered to focus on one task or thought at a time. Hey, if it works...just leave me the space and respect to be fully present with a 5 course dinner that requires being bitten, sucked, and savored, while languishing on exotically colored cushions in a room with sultry beats and warm laughter for, while mastery is born of discipline, sensuality and abandonment into the moment are the soil from which creativity grows, and creativity, my friends, is life.


David Jon Peckinpaugh said...

Excellent Victoria!!

Glad you are putting this out there. Way to go.

Anonymous said...

First of all, let me say, right on. And secondly, how timely. At my integral group here, sometimes I want to say, "Hey, why don't, just this once, we get up and go clean up trash on the block and chat with one another casually instead of hashing over theories half of us don't even begin to grasp?" I'm I really the only one there who sees how equally meaningful such a thing would be to our so-called Integral endeavor? Maybe half of them, or the whole lot, are just waiting for someone to say something like that. The feminine side, as I think of it, is just doing and sharing (or not sharing) the experience and just sort of richly being there, actively being there, without measuring or evaluating or particularly trying to get anywhere. Just enjoy the process, you know? I mean, we ARE the process, after all, and there IS no goal. Chill out, dudes.

Kai in NYC

Anonymous said...

Victoria, I didn't even know I had a spiritual practice until I took Integral Theory class at IUP. This is even though I could maintain subtle energy flow for several days at a time (in my prime). At least IT gives lip service to alternative methods to develop the subtle body, but I totally agree, the emphasis in not there.

I like to think of meditation as fine-tuning the body, eliminating barriers to subtle energy flow. One achieves that through centering, focus, relaxation, and achieving that "perfect rhythm". The fact is, that's what good arts training is all about too. And it's a heckuva lot more fun than sitting on your tush for hours at a time.

For me, a flow state dissolves boundaries between self and others. My music training, coupled with a relaxation exercise, is what helps me achieve subtle energy flow (I experience it as "chi"). I would like to develop more meditation techniques as well - I need to work on my masculine - because I know it would complement my practice. But my primary vehicle for subtle body development is my music.

Rage on, Victoria!


victoria said...

Thanks! I'm so glad my words resonated with all of you, and I appreciate your taking the time to comment on my post.

Kai, I'm wondering if some kind of service ought to be part of everyone's salons. - How many guys would dismiss that as 'green?' - We do spend a lot of time talking theory, which can be fun (I like it to a point, until it gets knit picky and plainly boring and tedious!), and we spend much energy trying to figure out how to implement integral theory in our jobs and various fields of interest. Perhaps it would be much better to stop trying to figure out how and just put something into practice. Our group meets tomorrow night. I think I'll toss that one out there. Makes me feel the urge to help the salon itself be better at operating from all 4 quadrants!

Nancy, you know how strongly I feel about the process of creation of art as being what kicks off real change. Your subtle experiences are so inspiring and rather fascinating as well. I have this (crazy in our society) idea that all education ought to be based on art and branch out from there. Wouldn't that give people an incredible grounding? What better experience is there of nothing and no-thing into manifestation? A place to embrace and release it all?

ebuddha said...

Very very nice - I was smiling all the way through this - I was buzzing with energy at the end of this rant!!

victoria said...

Wow, cool! ebuddha, I'm glad I could facilitate your feminine energy buzz!

Jonny Bardo said...

Wow, truly wonderful Victoria.

Relatively recently I wrote something with regards to the "Integral Operating System Core Modules" that, according to the IOS box, are the minimally required aspects of being that need engagement in order to have an "integral practice;" they include Kinesthetic, Psychodynamic, Cognitive, and Meditative. Isn't something missing? Well, you speak of it here: Creativity, some form of intentional creative work, whether "art" or not. It could simply be anything playful, that is "non-essential" or not oriented towards transcendence, evolution, or some kind of omega point.

Anyways, I look forward to reading more of your blog (this was the first thing I read).

victoria said...

Thanks, Jonny. Glad you agree about the missing creativity 'module!' Here's hoping the dialog here and and at some of the other blogs makes an impact in the world of ILP and hopefully some expansion in the versions of the kit to come.