What sort of health changes do I need to make?
What sort of exercise will do me the most good?
How can I slow the wearing down of my body?
The many conflicting recommendations from doctors, friends, and websites can be overwhelming. Sometimes our own common sense lacks the objectivity to make the best decisions about our health. However, a third source of input is available to us. If we add to external authority and our own judgment, subjective sources of objectivity, we can improve our decision-making and clarify our life path. We can increase our confidence that we are making good decisions for our health.
Still, who would be foolish enough to listen to health advice from imaginary dream carpets? Why should anyone waste time on such nonsense? Well, maybe you shouldn’t, or perhaps your preconceived notions of what is valuable and what is not, as well as where and how to look for value may be short-sighted. It is important to understand that it is not a dream character or any particular form that is giving you advice, but rather the perspective that it embodies. IDL calls these spontaneous, intrinsic and autonomous perspectives “emerging potentials.” Visual metaphors embody perspectives; some are not only more objective than your own, but are highly relevant to your needs. When you access visual metaphors that fit for you because they are innately yours, you are very likely to be accessing perspectives on your life that are both relevant and helpful. In any case, this is a process that you get to test for yourself and be your own judge. The following is merely one anecdotal example of its effectiveness and usefulness.
Integral Deep Listening approaches both the interviewing of dream characters and the personification of life issues as subjective sources of objectivity. This is because, in both cases, they provide perspectives which are subjective, in that they include our own, but which are objective, in that they transcend our own. Such perspectives are not God, but they are not stuck where you and I are, either.
The issue that inspired this particular Integral Deep Listening (IDL) interview was not physical health but merely curiosity about the following dream:
Area rugs are being taken up and washed. I am looking at a very large area rug, too large to put in a washer. It is clean except for use lines where people had walked and stood in two lines the length of the carpet. I was trying to figure out how to get out the use lines. Could I scrub them out? Could I make the carpet last longer by turning it around when I laid it back down? I wasn’t so sure the use lines wouldn’t be in the same relative position.
When IDL interviews are done the subject writes their own associations after writing the dream. This is in order to provide a “pre-test.” Does the interview confirm and echo the associations or does it offer something new? In either case, are its recommendations practical, useful and worth testing in one’s daily life? Here were the associations to this dream:
“I don’t know why I had this dream. I haven’t been thinking about carpets. We have wooden floors. The dogs track in dirt. If I were to give it a name it would be “Minimizing Carpet Wear” and I would interview the carpet.”
Here’s what the carpet had to say:
“I am overall in good shape. It’s just two narrow areas of me that get all the usage and are wearing out faster than the rest of me, by far. It is good that I am being taken up, examined, cleaned, and possibly turned around. In fact, I think that’s a good idea. I look good and provide some insulation from the cold, hard concrete underfloor. However, I am not as durable as the concrete. I do have to be maintained, like I am, to lengthen my usable life span.”
“I personify the dreamer’s body – its relatively soft and external aspects. I would not only be cleaned and turned around, but the furniture in the room would be redesigned so that other areas are used and my high use areas not used at all any more. On a scale of zero to ten I would score myself a ten in confidence and a nine in the other five core qualities. I have a ten in confidence because I have confidence that I would last three or four times as long as normal if that strategy was used and repeated. I am a nine in compassion because I care about such things, I suppose I’m very compassionate, for a carpet! I am a nine in wisdom because suggestions are good, right? I am a nine in acceptance because while I don’t have any problems with wearing out, why not maximize my use? I am a nine in inner peace because I’m OK with wearing out through normal usage in this situation, I am just wanting to stay useful. Regarding witnessing, I have unusual objectivity for a carpet. If I were a ten in all these qualities I wouldn’t be much different. I’m pretty much there now. Maybe I would be some sort of magical, self-regenerating carpet. But still, I need support and cooperation if I am to be maximized in usefulness.”
“If Joseph were me and approached life as I do he would be aware of the high usage patterns in his life and he would radically alter them from time to time. He would also give the areas of heavy physical use a rest and figure out creative, optional patterns of use. I would substitute biking or using the elliptical trainer at the gym for jogging. It will keep his cardio up but be easier on his knees and legs. I would do yoga daily. There will be other benefits he is not aware of at present. He hates the idea of giving up running. But if he focuses on biking and the yoga with those outcomes in his awareness, he will transition well. Also, it would be good if he ate more vegetables and got regular medical check-ups! It is good for him to keep in mind that his body is like a carpet with high-use areas that he needs to be mindful of. It will last longer with a variation of usage.”
“I am in his life to help him support his body so he will be around longer so that he can accomplish more of his work. His inner compass is trying to support him. The problem is that he likes his habits. He is fond of doing what he is used to doing. He should read this over occasionally to remember my recommendations. Set up a schedule. Get into routines. Pretty soon he will love his new routines as much as his old ones!”
What I heard myself being told by this dream carpet is that I need to back off on the jogging. I am fifty-nine (in 2009); I need to work at doing some sort of physical cleansing. I need to vary my exercise routine by changing to elliptical training exercise like biking, and also do yoga more regularly. I need to respect and listen to the needs of my body so it will last a lot longer.
Now it is approaching the end of 2015, some six years after the above was written. What has become of these recommendations? First, this interview allowed me to easily and naturally let go of years of jogging, something I fully expected would be difficult and sad. This ease of change is something I have often noticed both in myself and in the many other people who use IDL. It does not always occur, nor is it always as easy as it was in this instance, but the ease of making shifts in long-standing life habits, beliefs, emotions, and expectations is significant and occurs often enough to prove itself to be a “feature” of the process rather than a coincidence. I attribute it to deep listening, which moves our worldview and preferences into alignment with the priorities of life as it is attempting to be born within us. Secondly, while I have some knee pain, mostly going up or down steps, it is better than it was when I stopped jogging five years ago. Third, I did substitute daily biking, yoga several times a week, and use of the elliptical trainer at the gym for jogging. I need to get more regular with the yoga, but the biking and elliptical trainer keep my heart rate down and my aerobic conditioning up, and even with the yoga only being a couple of times a week I remain healthy and flexible. In summary, this interview, without which I would not have recognized or heeded this advice, has made a major positive difference in my life. It is an example of why I recommend IDL to others and why I use it with confidence in my own life and in the lives of both my clients and friends. It is also why I encourage students, coaches, teachers and practitioners of IDL to practice what they preach, to “be the change they wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. Teach what you know from experience. Share how you are transforming your life and you will inspire others to take up the disciplines that allow them to do the same.