The Worm’s Waking
There is a worm addicted to eating grape leaves.
Suddenly, he wakes up,
call it Grace, whatever,
something wakes him, and he is no longer a worm.
He is the entire vineyard, and the orchard too,
the fruit, the trunks,
a growing wisdom and joy
that does not need to devour.
This poem by Rumi is so good that it doesn’t need any comment, but that has never stopped me before!
It became clear to me early on in the evolution and development of Integral Recovery that the agenda (Yes, I do have an agenda!) was not merely sobriety but waking up (and staying awake). And what I have found is that with the beautiful practices, technologies, and wisdom brought together under the aegis of Integral Recovery, this awakening is not only desirable but imminently possible.
Let me back up a little. In the late ’80s, I attended JFK University and studied to become a transpersonal therapist. One of the things we did at that early stage of development of transpersonal psychology was to define what transpersonal therapy was. The standard answer was that transpersonal psychology happens when a therapist “holds” a client in a transpersonal awareness, or space. This definition still holds true today. The only problem with the therapy is that simply holding people in a transpersonal space does not literally move them into that space very well. Traditional meditation methods were not doing it fast enough for my likes at the time either, and using entheogens didn’t seem advisable for many reasons, foremost being they are illegal.
All in all, I became disenchanted with the whole talking therapy practice as I was looking to hit home runs and only occasionally seemed to be getting to first base. Eventually, this led to my becoming a wilderness guide and using vision quests, wilderness journeys, and sweat lodges in order to facilitate deep transformational and healing experiences. These techniques were certainly more impactful than talking therapy and many of my students were beginning to experience states that could be called transpersonal, but most of the time these states were merely temporary, always coming and going as states do.
In Integral Recovery, what we have been finding is that by integrating IR practices, the foundations of which are Holosync® binaural brain entrainment technology and contemplative wisdom from the great world spiritual traditions, a process of revelation occurs. I use the word revelation quite seriously because it seems that a lot of what we are learning is truly being revealed and, at times, this feels like grace or a gift from a higher source (in between all the hard work). Clients are not only getting sober, but are beginning to wake up―in the sense of Rumi’s worm. They are becoming less rigid, more spiritually connected, more caring for themselves and others, and are not getting stuck in their own habitual conditioned patterns of thought and behavior. As a consequence of this waking up process, or as a part of it, the addiction to eating grape leaves, or whatever the addiction, begins to lift. There is new care and new connection that grows from love of self to love of “my group,” then on to love of everyone and love of all beings and all things. Finally, because we have added and integrated these practices, talking therapy has now become incredibly illuminated, useful, and transpersonal!
When I first started coaching people online, I thought my main job would be to get them to do the practices and the rest would take care of itself. This is partially true―a lot of the first part of my work with clients is about explaining the process and holding them accountable to do the daily practices. After that has been established as a foundation, however, the discursive part of the therapy has become extremely powerful because both client and therapist have access to these transpersonal dimensions of our beings. So, it is no longer merely a theoretical proposition or how we hold the client, but we are actually exploring the terrain together. In this context, one of the very interesting and inspiring things that I am discovering is that I (the therapist) and we (the client) don’t really have to understand what is going on, but as we work together there seems to be a source of wisdom that we can tap into together because of the practices that we both do on a daily basis that keep us in touch with and growing more deeply into our own centers and spiritual selves.
I recently heard a talk by Father Thomas Keating, a pioneer of bringing the Centering Prayer and the contemplative dimension back into current Christian practice, say that he did not feel that mental health was possible without access to the spiritual dimension. That access is now available to us using Holosync®, or binaural brain entrainment technologies, along with the wisdom of the great contemplative traditions. When, two or three weeks into the process, I explain different mediation practices such as Centering Prayer to my clients, they seem to grasp what I’m talking about almost immediately. This is because they are actually beginning to experience these dimensions of depth in their own daily practice. This happens within a few weeks, not a few years.
One of the greatest challenges to a contemplative or meditative practice, one facilitated by Holosync®, is what I call the meditative super ego. In other words, we have many ideas and assumptions about what we think successful meditation should look and feel like. Once I get my students over that hump, the process becomes much more graceful and exciting as the exploration deepens. What we are doing in the Upper Right Quadrant, on the physical level, is rapidly integrating the brain and having it function more coherently. In the Upper Left Quadrant, or in our individual interiors, all kinds of interesting things are happening. Each client or student has a different experience but emotional and spiritual progress is accelerated and a radical hope begins to emerge, stemming from the grace that we seem to have access to now. I find this a beautiful example of putting theory to work, using the theory or map to enlighten and infuse the territory and the journey though it with clarity and meaning. Remember, the Integral impulse is not this or that but this and that, or yes and, yes and. Every time that I find a new technique, technology, nuance, or connection, the whole process constellates into a more beautiful, graceful, and functional pattern.
In this practice, we are not only working on our spiritual line, but also on our emotional line. In Father Keating’s work on Centering Prayer, he talks about something which he calls divine therapy, which is what occurs when one surrenders in contemplation on an ongoing basis. It seems that the locks to the unconscious begin to let go and the split off, unconscious material, sub personalities, etc. begin to surface into awareness and are able to be released, healed, and integrated in this spacious, open (divine) awareness; the self becomes more functional, resilient, and more contextualized, in an ever deepening field of connection and meaning. This closely parallels what we have been finding in IR practice. Not only do my students begin to access their own depths spiritually, they are also able to quickly get in touch with their own core wounds. These two processes work together beautifully: the spiritual aspect supplies the faith that everything on the deepest level is okay, and emotionally there is an expanded context or sense of Self, in which space the painful unconscious and shadow material can surface and be released and transmuted in the light of our pure loving awareness.
So, what we have here is a growing, living Integral spirituality that can be understood and languaged in whatever tradition or language one chooses and, at the same time, a way of getting to the unconscious, yet powerfully controlling, material that keeps us trapped in our own rigid defense mechanisms―or slaves of our own chaotic attempts to avoid the pain, i.e. addiction.
…And, we don’t have to eat the grape leaves anymore.