Words in the following text that are highlighted are linked to a glossary, where they are explained, listed in alphabetical order.
What is Integral Deep Listening?
Integral Deep Listening is a deep and integral form of listening, a dream yoga, a transpersonal, integral life practice, interactive and immersive, a training in both personal and collective healing, balancing, and transformation, and a three-tiered certification program: Coaching, Practitioner, and Trainer.
Let’s look at what each of those components means:
A deep and integral form of listening
You may have noticed that much of the time, when people are “listening” to you they aren’t actually hearing what you are saying. Instead they are thinking about what they are going to say to you next. You can check this by asking people what they heard you say. You may be surprised at the distortions, misunderstandings, and incomplete responses you get. What normally passes for “listening” is filtered by our own assumptions and cognitive filters, most of which we are normally unaware. The result is that we think we are hearing each other when in fact we are having a dialogue with our own assumptions and projections onto who others are and what they mean. Integral Deep Listening teaches listening that suspends those assumptions and filters in order to hear others in a deep way. That deep listening is also integral in that it strives to be empathetic, that is, to bridge the gap between ourselves and the other.
Integral listening is also deep in that it extends listening beyond other people to imaginary others, as in dreams, and to those others encountered in other states of consciousness, like mystical and near-death experiences.
Yogas are spiritual disciplines designed to unite us with the divine. Yogas may be physical (Hatha yoga), devotional, (Bhakti yoga), work-related (Karma yoga), meditative (Jnana yoga), energetic (Kundalini yoga), or dream-related (Svapna Yoga).
Most dream yogas, including traditional Hindu Svapna and Tibetan Buddhist yogas, as well as contemporary lucid dreaming, involve learning to wake up in dreams. This means learning to recognize that you are dreaming so that you are no longer the victim of self-generated delusion. This can be an end it itself, as in contemporary lucid dreaming, or it can be in order to learn to recognize the self-created nature of the dream of life and to wake up out of it in any and every state, but most importantly, while awake. Integral Deep Listening is this variety of dream yoga. It focuses on teaching skills for waking up, or becoming lucid, primarily in our waking life, and that in turn has major implications for what it means to become lucid in our dreams.
A life practice
Yogas are life-long sacred disciplines, meaning they involve dedication, daily practice, patience, persistence, and consistent effort. All life practices are not yogas, but all yogas are life practices. “Life practice” implies the learning of skills that do not simply heal or provide life balance, but are transformational in an ongoing way. Integral Deep Listening consists of ten different core competencies as components of a life practice designed to heal, balance, and transform.
An integral life practice
An “integral” life practice attempts to consider the relationships between self, values, behavior, and others and to bring these into an evolving balance in everyday life. Integral Deep Listening consists of ten different core competencies as components of a life practice designed to heal, balance, and transform.
Interactive and Immersive
Integral Deep Listening involves ongoing interaction with your dream images, like other people, monsters, buildings, roads and trees. It also involves learning to take a pain, like a stabbing pain in the back, or a feeling, like depression, and turn it into an image to interview, like a stabbing knife or a pit of depression. You interact with other students who are learning and interviewing partners. This interaction is immersive in that you become, identify and empathize with multiple “others,” both during interviews and later, in your application of their recommendations for your integral life practice.
A training in both personal and collective healing, balancing, and transformation
Psychology, self-help, coaching, and spiritual practices primarily focus on self-development and personal enlightenment. Integral Deep Listening holds that we heal, balance, and transform best when we help others to do so. The goal is to create supportive groups, culture, and society that slowly, family by family and over generations, transforms the planet.
A three-tiered certification program: Coaching, Practitioner, Trainer
The Coaching certification program focuses on understanding the basics of Integral Deep Listening, including:
- how our familial, social, and cultural scripting creates our reality,
- how and why we stay stuck in toxic drama, our misguided assumptions and conclusions, and
- how to free ourselves from them,
- goal setting,
- improved problem-solving (called “triangulation”),
- interviewing the dream characters and personifications of life issues of ourselves and others,
- pranayama, and
- setting a statement of intent.
It also involves
- learning how to use these capabilities to lead “Integral Salons.”
- developing a marketing plan, and
- helping coaching clients heal, balance, and transform their lives.
The Practitioner Certification program focuses on applying the above to a specific population of one’s choice to make a real difference in the world for some group or some challenge. Groups may be children, families, co-workers, or abused spouses. Challenges may be those with a particular addiction, say to alcohol or food, or it could be people with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, this or that phobia, those struggling with grief or work/school problems.
The Trainer Certification program focuses on research. Students learn and use Dream Sociometry and co-author published research into the usefulness of Integral Deep Listening in addition to teaching IDL to Coaches and Practitioners.
Purposes of the Curriculum
The first of the three IDL healing components asks,
“How can I recognize and change my scripting and programming so I don’t pass it on to future generations?”
From birth we internalize what we experience and that creates our identity and how we view others and life. We are all scripted by our families, society, and culture. If we had been born someplace else, to different parents, we would largely think different thoughts, feel different feelings, and have a very different sense of who we are. If we don’t unearth the scripted permissions and prohibitions we internalized as children and sort through them to decide which are useful and which are not, we misunderstand those we love most and pass toxic aspects of our scripting onto future generations. When entire societies and cultures do so, humanity sleepwalks through life, thinking it is autonomous and free when it is in reality living out its scripting. This is why freeing ourselves from our life scripts is the first of three components of the Integral Deep Listening healing curriculum.
An important related question is,
“How do I stop reinforcing and confirming my scripting while I am sleeping, in my dreams?”
How we respond to dream monsters, dream confusion, dream failure, or dream good fortune is scripted. We can change scripted misinterpretations of dream events even as we are dreaming if we understand and free ourselves of our scripting.
The second of the three IDL healing components involves freeing ourselves from destructive drama. IDL asks, “How do I escape the roles of Persecutor, Victim, and Rescuer in my relationships, thoughts, and dreams?”
If we do not understand how we stay trapped in the Drama Triangle, which involves the three above-mentioned roles, we will never find peace of mind. Life will be exciting as it cycles between punishment, helplessness, and self-rescuing addictions, but health, balance, and transformation will stay illusive, fragile, and precarious.
It is not enough to understand how we stay in drama in our relationships and then free ourselves from it. If we stay in self-persecution, powerlessness, and addiction in our thoughts and night-time dreams, those manifestations of toxic drama can undercut our relationships as well. IDL interviewing of dreams and life issues unearths drama, its causes, and provides concrete recommendations to escape the Drama Triangle.
The third of the three IDL healing components involves identifying and eliminating emotional cognitive distortions, logical fallacies, and those built-in cognitive biases that keep us asleep, dreaming, and sleepwalking in groupthink. The questions IDL asks about toxic thinking are,
“How do I stop thinking thoughts that cause me to feel scared, sad, angry, confused, and full of self-doubt?”
“How do I stop experiencing my dreams in ways that cause me to feel bad?”
When we dream, we perceive what’s going on based on our scripted assumptions. We draw conclusions in the form of feelings and thoughts based on our perspective as the dreamer. When we interview dream characters and elements, both when awake and while dreaming, we experience the dream from liberating and transformative perspectives. As a result, we not only radically reframe our experience of our dream but deconstruct the assumptions on which our perceptions of our dreams, identity, and relationships are based. This wakes us up not only out of dream drama, but our normal state of sleepwalking in the drama of our thoughts, feelings, addictions, and relationships.
The first of the three IDL balancing components involves learning and implementing healthy goal setting. This is because having and working toward goals gives life meaning while protecting us from both depression and fear. IDL healthy goal setting asks, “How do I set SMART goals that protect me from anxiety and depression and give my life meaning?” SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. SMART goals are accountable, that means they are not only measurable, but progress is shared with and assessed by your partners in the IDL Certification process.
IDL also asks, “How do we align our goals with our unique life compass?” The answer IDL gives is, “By interviewing multiple emerging potentials and observing common themes. These point us toward the priorities of our life compass. When our goals reflect those priorities, our lives move into alignment with our life compass. The result is integration of others and self, objective and subjective, above and below, exterior and interior, macrocosm and microcosm.
IDL also asks in relationship to goal setting, “How do I set healthy goals while dreaming?” This is important because your dreams affect your physical and mental health whether you remember them or not. Without listening to them in a deep and integral way, your dreams are likely to perpetuate toxic aspects of your life script and thinking, as well as toxic drama. They will keep you asleep, dreaming, sleepwalking, and sick, but out of your awareness. When you practice dream incubation and character interviewing while dreaming, you heal, balance, and transform your dream life.
The second of the three IDL balancing components involves developing healthy risk-taking and authentic, as opposed to phony, self-confidence. It asks, “How do I avoid passivity and aggressiveness in my relationships, thinking, and dreams?”
We learn much more from our mistakes than our successes, just as we learn more from those who disagree with us than surrounding ourselves with an echo chamber of self-validation. To grow, we have to know how to differentiate healthy from foolish risks and develop the confidence necessary to make mistakes and fail. Finding the balance between passivity and aggressiveness toward others, ourselves, and in our dreams is an ongoing, never-ending challenge and competency. Instead of being a passive recipient of our dream experiences or an aggressive interventionist, changing dreams to meet our demands, IDL teaches us to both question our dream experience and learn to take the perspectives of other elements in our dreams, while we are dreaming.
The third of the three IDL balancing components asks, “How do I improve my waking and dreaming problem solving to save time, energy, and avoid false starts and life detours?” IDL problem solving involves seeking guidance from 1) external sources of information, like mentors and artificial intelligence, 2) consulting our common sense and intuition, and also 3) listening in a deep and integral way to interior sources of objectivity, including our interviewed dream characters. It means developing the habit of checking out our major life decisions as well as our sources of self-doubt, pain, and confusion with all three sources.
Learning to interview the dream characters and personifications of life issues of ourselves, fellow students of IDL, and others constitutes the first of the three IDL transformative components. It asks,
“How do I access emerging potentials and my unique life compass?” “How do I learn to do so in my dreams?”
Most of us stay locked in our childhood scripting all our lives. We stay stuck in toxic drama in our relationships, thinking, and dreams. We make wrong assumptions and exhibit confused thinking because we haven’t been taught how to access our emerging potentials and life compass. IDL interviewing makes transformation both more likely and lasting because it uses triangulation, which includes interviewing, to align your waking preferences and priorities with those of your emerging potentials and life compass.
While IDL interviewing provides objective feedback and recommendations regarding specific life issues that matter for your happiness today, meditation provides abstract or global objectivity. We need both. IDL meditation asks, “How do I develop objectivity that generates balance and peace of mind?”
The many varieties of meditation either involve concentration or open focus receptivity and mindfulness. IDL uses naming of the contents of our awareness – our thoughts, feelings, and images, to do both. Naming interrupts our “train of thought” and opens up clear, thought-free spaces between thoughts, feelings, and images. It uses detachment from feelings, thoughts, images, sensations, and awareness itself to generate transformative clarity. As we practice IDL naming meditation while cooking, showering, eating, working, or traveling, we find that objective clarity becomes more common in our dreams, keeping us out of drama and generating higher levels of awareness in our dreams as well as our waking life.
The third of the three IDL transformative components asks, “How do I turn my breath into my best friend and a path to transformation?”
IDL uses observation of seven octaves of the cycle of breath (Pranayama) as a form of meditation that can be practiced anywhere, at any time. Every breath involves six stages: abdominal inhalation, chest inhalation, the pause after inhalation, chest exhalation, abdominal exhalation, and the pause after exhalation. Observation of these six bodily experiences is the first of the seven octaves of IDL Pranayama. This first stage transforms our experience in the here and now by grounding us in our bodies. The other six octaves transform by 1) learning to amplify awareness of life processes, 2) transformational affect, 3) core qualities, 4) develop devotional affirmation, 5) learning to disattach from the components of our identity, and 6) breathing from the perspective of life itself.
The fourth of the three IDL transformative components, healing, balancing, transforming, asks, “How do I decide what daily intentions are in alignment with my life compass?”
We usually set intent based on our waking desires, priorities, goals, preferences, and intentions. This ignores and neglects the intentions and priorities of our emerging potentials, accessed through interviewing, and the priorities of our unique life compass. For example, we generally set our goals or choose an integral life practice based on our own likes and dislikes or sense of what is most important. But how do we know that to be true? We can all look back at our lives at times and situations where we acted with clear intent and certainty and ended up being foolish or reaching a dead end! This is because we did not know how to set intent aligned with the priorities of our life compass.
Setting intention also asks, “How do I incubate dreams that heal, balance, and transform?”
Pre-sleep incubation is a process of setting intent before you dream in order to increase the likelihood that your dream experience will more closely align with the priorities of your life compass. By doing so, your dreams reinforce higher patterns of integration, transformation, balance, and healing, making it more likely you will find yourself in the right place at the right time to actualize its priorities the next day, in your waking life.