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A.H. Almaas identifies 18 "I-states" or "ego-states" associated with healing narcissistic wounds. This is the kind of work we need to do in order to take care of the shadow aspects, projected outward, that result in, for example, authoritarian political characters appearing on the global scene in leadership positions. We can use "voice dialogue" to enact whichever of these I-states seem most relevant to our experience at the moment, giving us a kind of map of the territory and a way to navigate it towards wholeness.

Here are the 18 I-states: "fake self"; "hard self"; "wounded self"; Betrayed self; raging self; pointless self; lost self; shameful self; rejected self; spacious self; self-active self; depressed self; helpless self; trusting self; ideal self; loving self; essential self or unique self.

In voice dialogue what we do is "speak" to that self and then as that self, helping us to then to let go of it. When we let go of aspects of self that are "true" and healthy, they don't go away, but in fact are accessed even more strongly. So We don't need to worry that letting go of a positive is a problem.  “That which is true can never be lost” 🙂

References:

A.H. Almaas, http://www.ahalmaas.com/books/the-point-of-existence-narcissism-self-realization

Hal and Sidra Stone on voice dialogue method:  https://www.amazon.com/Embracing-Ourselves-Voice-Dialogue-Manual/dp/1882591062

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Arguably, sexual repression in North America creates conditions that contribute to the creation of the sexual predators we see in the news.  Seeing that these conditions contribute to the occurence of sexually predatory behavior in men, however, in no way condones that behavior.  Those men are still responsible for their behavior, i.e., are needing to “grow up”.

On the other hand, we saw in the #metoo movement some individuals using the language of postmodernism -- but without an ethics of inclusion -- to punish men (usually) without due process.

Seen as built in features of the Kosmos, integral theory includes as unavoidably present four noble qualities that are beauty, goodness, truth, and usefulness.  Sex is clearly related to the attraction to beauty, with beauty inspiring creativity, passion and right effort in others. In terms of the passion that is inspired, it is crucial to honor the boundaries set by the beautiful, not for reasons of premodern ethics, but for the practical or modern reason that those boundaries are what create the container for the creative contribution itself.

I would argue that honoring the boundaries of what we find to be beautiful, of what inspires in us erotic feelings, provides an inside-out approach to sexual ethics.

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I was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in this open, honest dialogue about the challenging topic of depression and suicidality in men, at the social networking site focused on depth, www.infiniteconversations.com.

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Some Testimonials About my Work

Published on May 31, 2018 by in Uncategorized

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Here is a sample of testimonials I have received from past clients.  I achieved a 90% plus client satisfaction rate during my five years work as an Employee Assistance Counsellor.

  • good service!
  • The counsellor I saw made the EAP program work for me.
  • I will always use your service when needed.
  • Durwin is an excellent counsellor.
  • Quite helpful to clarify thinking.
  • Very helpful.
  • Really great service. I learned a lot and grew as a person.
  • Thank you for taking the extra steps to connect with me.
  • My EAP was extremely helpful in providing me with the tools I need to assist me with my problem.
  • My provider recommended books, pamphlets + avenues to explore to spend our time together. Very helpful + the right info.
  • Tt was a very useful learning experience that resulted in happier more balanced productive outlook.
  • I’m grateful that this service is available.

 

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Integral Ethics for a Better You

Published on May 30, 2018 by in ethics

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And a better world

In this article, I will provide a brief introduction to the practice of integral ethics.

One way to define the word “integral” is as “comprehensive.” Therefore, the benefit of taking an integral approach to the ethical dilemmas we may face is that an integral approach allows us to honor the complexity of these situations. When we make decisions that embrace and honor complexity, we are more likely to experience positive outcomes for both us and the other people in our world.

The integral ethical-decision making model and process that Dr. Tim Blackand I developed, with guidance from Ken Wilber, facilitates the wise embrace of complexity by parsing ethics into four key domains that correlate to the interior and exterior of reality, as well as its individual and collective aspects. Analyzing ethics in this way gives us ethics itself, as well as morals, behaviors and laws. The relationship between these four domains is perhaps best understood with the assistance of visuals, as follows:

Integral Ethics as confluence of behaviors, laws, ethics and morals.

The integral ethical-decision making process then guides you through the four domains using four different lenses in order to make an optimal decision in resolution of any ethical quandary you may be facing. Here are the lenses:

Four lenses on an ethical dillemma

Here is an illustrative example:

I am at my workplace as an Employee Assistance Counselor where the context requires me to keep in mind multiple clients. For example, I must not only include my immediate client who is the person sitting in front of me, but also the client’s employer who is a client of my employer. This creates a complex stakeholder arrangement which can lead to tricky ethical decision-making.

Then let us say I have a client who brings up a case of bullying by her manager. This client is regularly being “put down” in a way that she experiences as demeaning. She has become depressed and her health is suffering as she is eating less and sleeping more fitfully. She wants to speak up for herself in a straightforward way, but fears that doing so may jeopardize her job. The situation is serious enough that she has started looking for other work, but has not yet been successful in finding alternative employment.

Trained in social justice and advocacy work, my first desire — coming from the moral virtues view — is to do what is right. The client ought to be able to go to her human resources department, file a complaint, and something ought to be done by Human Resources to reprimand the manager. Right?

However, in looking through the systems-regulatory view to see the system of which both she and I are members, the reality becomes clear of how difficult this could be to enact without putting both of us at considerable risk. By working through all four lenses, I decide to focus on the power of relationship — the “relational-contextual view” — to assist this client. I surmise that by building a strong relationship of mutual trust, unconditional positive regard, and “mattering”, I can support her to maintain her self-esteem in this challenging situation. Also, I can support her by giving her specific behaviors — called the “video-camera view” because behavior is observable – to try out around assertiveness and non-violent communication that she can use to “test the waters” with her manager.

I trust the above overview of two of the main components of the integral ethical-decision making model, as well as an example of the model being applied, helps to whet your appetite for learning more about how this model can help you in your life.

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Want More Freedom and Love in Your Life?

Published on May 29, 2018 by in power

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Then you need integral power.

Most people I have ever met have been interested in power, at least to an extent. They want to feel more powerful than they presently do. Why is that? Well, I would argue that people learn from an early age that power equals the capacity to have what David Deida calls “freedom and fullness” in their lives. And perhaps even closer to home, they learn that to be loved by a another person often requires that they be powerful.

So given that so many people love power, how can we build an approach to power that is healthy — i.e. integrated and balanced, leading to a feeling of wholeness rather than fragmentation?

Ken Wilber’s quadrant model gives us a way in to answering this question. In his pioneering approach, Wilber has demonstrated that each moment of our lives has at least an interior aspect, an exterior aspect, a collective relational aspect, and a collective systems aspect. This can be seen in the diagram below:

Ken Wilber’s AQAL Model

What do these four aspects or domains of life have to do with the issue of developing our strengths or power? Well, what I have intuited is that there is a specific form of power that corresponds to each domain. And note well, power over other people is NOT a part of this integral approach to power, because power over others leads to a destructive dynamic that ends up hurting all involved.

Your Power Source #1: Power of Authenticity

In the upper left quadrant, the interior parts of the us, the form of power that is healthy, that leads towards the experience of real freedom, is the power of authenticity. The power of authenticity is the power that derives from being true to ourselves. To be true to ourselves means being honest with ourselves.

Being honest with ourselves is a little trickier than we might think, since we DO seem to have a tendency to lie to ourselves sometimes. There is a specific technique developed by Ken Wilber and taught by Diane Hamilton, called the 3-2-1 process, that you can use to address this pesky tendency to be dishonest with yourself, and I will teach it to you in an upcoming post. To get started right now, take a few minutes to journal what you are currently thinking and feeling. Then review what you have written and ask yourself, “is there anything more to this story?”

Going within can be a challenge if we are not used to it. As a life coach, I can assist you with this process by providing an emotionally safe relationship in which to explore this inner terrain.

Another way of stating this kind of power, then, is that it is the power of sincerity. You have probably met people who seem sincere to you, and you find them undeniably attractive. Most of us have a bullshit meter that we use to help us discern who is sincere, and who is “playing games”. I also call this type of power, “power within”.

Your Power Source #2: Power of Self-Mastery

Ever rubbed shoulders with a martial arts expert, highly experienced yoga teacher or elite athlete of any kind? Think about Michael Phelps, perhaps the ultimate current example. What makes people like this powerful is their mastery of their bodies — i.e. their behaviors. In this sense, the power of self-mastery is a kind of power over — it is an objective form of power, but again not power over the bodies of other people. The power of self-mastery could also be seen as relating to mastery of any kind of technical discipline. For example, in the arena of productivity, David Allen has developed a wonderful approach called “Getting Things Done”. Mastery of the specific actions involved in Allen’s process leads to this kind of power, the power of self-mastery.

As a life coach, I can assist you in developing this kind of power by assessing what disciplines the development of which would be most likely to move you towards your goals, and then developing a plan together with you to move you in the direction of mastery of those approaches.

Your Power Source #3: Power of Relationship

I believe it was the spiritual teacher Starhawk (yeah, I know, her name is a little pretentious) who first named this kind of power in a pithy way, calling it our “power with”. This form of power is the power that we feel when someone really understands us, and when we really understand another. Buber called this the power that comes from the experience of “I and thou”. This is an increasingly influential form of power, and thankfully so.

The development of this kind of power depends on a three key skills, which I can help you develop. The first skill is that of perspective-taking, which means being able to take the perspective of the other person, to look at the world — and especially to look back at us — as though from their eyes. This is the first crucial skill for developing the power of relationship.

The second crucial skill is empathy. We don’t only need to be able to see from out someone’s eyes, we need to develop a feeling of care and concern for the particular experience of that person, especially their challenges and difficulties in life.

The third crucial skill is the communication of empathy. Feeling empathy for another is not enough — we must be able to communicate it to the other person in a way that they can hear it.

The humanistic approach to coaching in which I was trained, as developed by the pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers, is based largely around these three skills. Since I was trained in this approach in my Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology program, you will experience the benefits of the power of relationship by selecting me as your coach / therapist.

Your Power Source #4 — Power of Membership

“Membership has its privileges” went the old American Express mantra. And it is true. Ken Wilber has suggested that the power of membership is the single largest source of power affecting where people are at in their lives, on average.

I’ll use a personal example to illustrate this form of power. I completed a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. By completing that course of studies at an accredited institution, I also became eligible to become a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. This in turn allows me to purchase practice liability insurance, one of several benefits of membership. Many employers in my field expect their counsellors to have completed at least a Masters in Counselling as a pre-requisite for being hired, and for us to be members of this or a similar association.

Here’s another example at a greater level of power — a physician who holds membership in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in British Columbia where I live can charge the BC Government insurance plan for their services, resulting in the capacity to earn income at a much higher level than most other, more “regular” folks. And if they are a specialist, then they can charge the government health insurance plan that much more, pushing their annual income into the $300k plus range.

More recently, many of us are realizing that the power of our membership as homo sapiens needs to be taken a lot more seriously. We are recognizing that we are members of a planetary biological system that we need to honor. Membership has its privileges, in this case, but also its responsibilities and requirements.

As your coach, I can help you evaluate your current level of power in this domain, and then devise a strategy to develop it — in a way that is hopefully respectful of your membership in our ecological system. For example, in the medical field and others domains, educational initiatives like those put forward by the MetaIntegral Institute can help you develop your power of membership.

Power Source #5 — “Secret” SOURCE Power

OK, I admit it, I lied to you. There aren’t four types of integral power — there are, in fact, five.

And this fifth one probably should be listed first. All the sources of power I shared above have to do with the “power of becoming”, whereas this one has to do with the “power of being”.

The question of “how” of develop this type of “causal consciousness” power is thus paradoxical. Paradoxical yet important, so here are a couple of practices. They won’t enlighten you, because as it has been said, enlightenment is an accident. But they definitely can help make you “accident prone”.

The first one is well-liked by my father, Chris Foster, who publishes his work at The Happy Seeker. Dad likes John Sherman’s approach to the paradoxical, mysterious nature of life, and John’s approach can be summed up as “look at yourself”. In other words, use your intention to shift your attention to your inner sense of being an “I”.

In addition to Sherman’s approach, I really like Candice O’Denver’s “short moments of awareness, repeated many times, becomes automatic”. Candice suggests that there is available to all of us at all times as kind of “open intelligence”; in fact, that our most intimate experience in any moment is of that very nature. It’s open — not closed. And it is intelligent, not stupid.

In terms of the visual that I provided above, we could think of this fifth kind of power as the paper or screen itself on which the diagram itself appears!

So to develop this kind of power, take a few moments whenever you remember to do so, and ”look at yourself” or allow yourself to rest in “open intelligence”.

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Integral Inquiry for Anxiety

Published on May 22, 2018 by in anxiety and fear

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Integral Inquiry for Anxiety

Approach your fear with mindfulness, creativity and courage

Most of us experience the discomfort of anxiety at some point of our lives, and many of us experience various forms of anxiety frequently. Since I was a young child, I have dealt with anxiety that I believe significantly interfered with my pursuit of valued life goals. Initially, this was in the form of separation anxiety from my parents when going to school. I had such strong fears that at times I would refuse school attendance altogether. I recall one incident where I did not want to go into my grade four class, and my father basically pushed me in through the door. I started crying and the entire experience was of being humiliated in front of my peers. Although not always as dramatic as that episode, these challenges with anxiety continued for me through my school years and into my days at university. I became depressed in part because of how anxiety had come to limit my life.

In my early 20's, however, i had the good fortune to meet a gifted psychologist whose assistance helped me turn my life around. His attuned presence, care and wisdom, combined with my determination to recover, helped me get better. I became interested in the fields of psychology, including humanistic, trans-personal and integral psychology, and dedicated myself to assisting others to suffer less and enjoy life more, just as I had been able to do with the assistance of Dr. Johnson.

This article introduces the integrated approach to anxiety that I have developed over the past several years. Note that my focus will be on what you can do individually to address anxiety and fear. There are others, notably Michael Fisher, whose work focuses on a social-cultural analysis of and response to anxiety and fear. I strongly support Dr. Fisher’s work, seeing it as complementary to mine.

An Integral Inquiry Approach to Anxiety

Please note that in the next section of the article, I will be referring to the diagram below describing the “quadrant” aspects of Ken Wilber’s AQAL Model.

Ken Wilber’s “AQAL” Model

In his seminal meta-theoretical work, Ken Wilber points out that there are at least four major domains that we need to consider when addressing any complex challenge. These four domains, in turn, arise from two key distinctions — that between the interior and exterior, and between the individual and the collective. To make this feel more real to you, I’d like to guide you now on a tour of your experience in these four areas.

“Wherever you are reading this right now, I invite you to sit back from the screen, perhaps close your eyes for a moment, and just bring your full attention to what is going on internally. First, feel your feet. For example, I can feel right now the pressure of my feet on the lower rung of my chair. What are you aware of in terms of sensations in your feet? And then from there, what else are you aware of? It will be some combination of sensations, feelings, and verbal and visual thoughts. The thoughts may be self-referential, a commentary on current experience, or “time-travel”, a mixture of memories about the past and projections into the future. For example, I can feel right now that I have many thoughts moving quickly from topic to topic. I am also aware of some images from last night’s dreams lingering in the back of my mind. All of this is what in the integral approach we call the individual, interior, or “UL” quadrant.

Moving clockwise, we come to the “Upper-right” quadrant. We sometimes call that quadrant the “video-camera” view. What would a video-camera record right now? For example, I am sitting in a garden level office, where i can look out and see the sun shining today. I am sipping a cup of coffee. Any of our behaviors, as well as all the activity of our brain — for example that which could be recorded by an fMRI — are included in this quadrant. Note that some materialist views of reality assert that this quadrant is the ONLY REAL one. In contrast, we use our integral approach to avoid reducing reality to any one of the four quadrants.

Moving to the lower-left quadrant, also sometimes referred to the “we-space” or the space of mutual understanding, I’d invite you to take a moment to become aware of your important relationships. Pick one of your relationships, and take a moment to feel into your sense of connection, or mutual understanding, with that person. How solid is yours sense of “I-thou” as Buber spoke about, in that relationship? Do you feel like we are in a state of secure attachment with loved one? If you are like me, there is probably some work to do in this area.

In the Lower-Right quadrant, we are encouraged to stand back a bit from immediate experience and take a systems, or big-picture, perspective. System theory is one of the great advances of our era, and we can use this perspective to see patterns that might otherwise go un-noticed. A general proxy for the system perspective in our individual lives is to think about our careers as niches in an ecosystem. You might take note of your certifications and or memberships in the world of work as a way to get in touch with this part of your experience right now. For example, I am a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, and certified by them as a Canadian Certified Counselor. I am also a Certified Integral Therapist with Dr. Mark Forman, Ph.D.

Integral Inquiry for Anxiety

Now we come to the fun part — the what to do part [feeling excited!]. Whenever you feel anxious, what I recommend you do is inquire into that feeling starting with one of the four zones (a simpler name for a “quadrant”) illustrated above. It doesn't matter which one. If I notice some anxiety, I might ask myself, “avoiding relating?”. Aware that anxiety is always about avoidance, I am deliberately investigating what it is that I am currently avoiding, and by doing so, I am consciously approaching and therefore lessening that resistance to experience. Sometimes when I do this I became aware of one or more important emails to which I haven’t attended! Since this is also a willingness or commitment based model, then taking action to address the avoided stimuli is a relevant next step. So your action step to reduce your anxiety might be to deal with that inbox.

It does not matter your order of attending to the zones, or whether or not you attend to all of them — just move around them as feels relevant. So I might, then, move next to the Upper-right zone, and inquire, “avoiding moving”? Sometimes, the avoidance is of taking action — there is something we know we need or want to do, perhaps going for a run or working out or running an errand, and yet we find ourselves resisting that awareness and instead build up a sense of anxiety about it.

“Avoiding feeling” is a common defense that many of us use, and corresponds to the upper-left zone in the diagram above. An easy way to feel into this zone of experience is to bring your awareness into the bodymind. Often closing our eyes is helpful. The territory of our inner experience includes sensations, verbal thoughts, and imagery that plays out on the movie screen of our minds.

Letting Go and Letting Be

Back in 1998, Dean Shapiro and John Astin published a book called Integrated Control Therapy. I haven’t read the book, but I did read one of their related articles which describes a two fold approach to helping us feel a sense of control in our lives. The two types of control are active and passive. This process I describe above is an active approach to addressing your anxiety — you are doing something, namely inquiring. The second inter-related technique of my method is to also be able to let go. Spiritual teacher Adyashanti has a simple injunction that he uses in his retreats, which is simply “Let everything be as it is”. One way I introduce this injunction to my clients is to point out to them that they weren’t aware of any effort involved in becoming aware first thing in the morning. They just found themselves aware. So our experience arises effortlessly of its own accord and sometimes the best way to address anxiety, particularly of the existential kind, is to deliberately do nothing at all about it. Just let everything be as it is.

No need to get to the top of a mountain before “letting everything be as it is” 🙂

Conclusion

These two approaches — the “Active” and the “letting go” — form a dialectic. We can experiment by moving back and forth between them: sometimes inquiring into experience and where we are avoiding, and then other times just letting go of everything. I believe if you give these methods a try, you will experience a benefit in terms of your ability to manage your fear and anxiety. Let me know what happens for you!

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Please check out this presentation on integrative spirituality.  Many of us have backgrounds in Christianity, although often not favorable!  This approach I have offered, I believe, can help redeem our Christian background by leaving dogma behind.  Instead, we can focus on the practices of meditation, prayer and contemplation and see what we experience without a heavy overlay of pre-given interpretation and belief.

Integrative Spirituality Christian Context

All feedback welcome :).  If this resonates for you, please call 604-440-1968 regarding how I can assist you with your needs.

Durwin

 

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My focus for counselling practice this year will be shifting to relationships.  I feel very passionate to engage this area, both personally and professionally, and so look forward to serving you in this domain.

To start the New Year off right, I wanted to share with you a delightful graphic from author Martin Ucik who wrote the acclaimed book, Integral Relationships.

IntegralRelationship

I invite you to spend some time viewing this graphic to see the main elements of attuned relating!

As time allows, I will write more to unpack each of the elements shown above, along with some specific things you can begin doing to improve the depth and span of your relating this year!

 

 

 

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Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician's GuideMindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention for Addictive Behaviors: A Clinician's Guide by Sarah Bowen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is a great resource for clinical counselors who want to assist people in recovery using mindfulness as a key tool for that purpose. The book provides structured exercises and practices specifically for a group format. However, I have found them to also be readily adaptable for use with individuals.

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