Frequently Asked Questions

What Does The Name “Integral Deep Listening” Mean?

Normally we don’t listen; while people talk we are thinking about what we are going to say next.

When we do listen it is generally to “roof brain chatter” – the endless routine of repetitive, predictable worries, doubts, confusions, or problems – in a way that solves nothing and keeps us stuck in drama, depression, and anxiety. This is as true for meditation and lucid dreaming as it is for normal waking life.

Deep” listening is not merely the suspension of thinking about what you are going to say next. It is also listening to the subtext beneath “roof brain chatter.” That subtext is different from the emotional and cognitive framings and implications of what has been said, as is generally understood by psychotherapists. The subtexts addressed by integral deep listening are the priorities of life, called “emerging potentials,” that are attempting to be born within you. These are absolutely essential to access and incorporate in order to  align personal goals and life agendas with the priorities of life itself. IDL accesses your unique emerging potentials by teaching you how to interview both dream elements and the personifications of those life issues most important to you. IDL teaches you to practice integral and deep listening not only to whatinterviewed emerging potentials say, but listening and paying attention to their perspective and presence, what they “feel” like when you become them. This listening is about integrating multiple expanded identities or perspectives that understand who you are intimately, yet see your issues, problems, challenges, dreams and nightmares in broader contexts than you do. It is like traveling from a swamp with alligators and snakes, where one is easily lost to a mountain top and surveying where you are, where you’ve been, and where you want to go. Such reorienting perspectives put you in touch with your authentic self and point your forward toward your next steps toward integration, whether you are a five-year-old with a nightmare or an experienced non-dual meditator and lucid dreamer.  In the process, you learn not only how to deeply listen to yourself, but how to deeply respect and empathize with others. By implementing the recommendations that you receive from interviewed emerging potentials that make sense to you, you both test the method and learn to discriminate your authentic self from your socialized, scripted persona.

IDL is Integral,  in that it is a form of experiential multi-perspectivalism the aligns itself with Ken Wilber’s integral AQAL model that addresses all levels, lines, states, quadrants, and types. For more on AQAL,   go here.

What Is An “Emerging Potential?”

Many of us have been taught to think of dream characters as symbols, parts of ourselves, or spirits. Like all phenomenological methodologies, IDL suspends such assumptions and instead focuses on what interviewed dream elements and the personifications of life issues (like fire or a needle for back pain) have to say for and about themselves. Each interviewed perspective expresses a unique perspective which, when identified with, represents different emerging potentials – developmental capabilities that you were not previously fully aware of, that are being drawn to your attention, born into your awareness, and which you can become more fully and authentically as you practice interviewing as well as taking the perspective of previously interviewed characters in specific life circumstances that they represent. For example, if your issue is losing your temper and you access an emerging potential that doesn’t lose its temper, then becoming that perspective in those situations in which you are likely to lose your temper is a powerful strategy for evolving your entire perceptual approach to situations that annoy, irritate, or anger you.

What Does “Phenomenological Methodology” Mean?

Phenomenological methods, such as IDL, suspend common assumptions about what is true, good, and real in favor of simple, impartial observation. This type of observation is central to what it means to “deeply listen.” Most people and methods do not do this. They start with assumptions about what is true, good, and real and evaluate whatever happens and whomever they meet in terms of those standards. Phenomenological methods are injunctive and empirical: like yogas, they offer instructions, require discipline and accountability.

What Is My “Life Compass?”

When you interview a number of emerging potentials you will find that there is a repetition or consensus among them regarding various recommendations. These represent shared priorities for your development, which together, form a direction or “life compass” that transcends, but includes, your own personal goals. Rather than an interior space or entity, think of your life compass as a constantly growing set of life priorities that are central to your health, well-being, and growth. These do not belong to “you;” instead, they are potentials that are attempting to be born within you. They belong to your authentic self. Whether they are or not born within you and to what degree their influence is felt in your life, is determined by your ability to deeply listen to them in an integral way, which includes demonstrating your respect by implementing in your life those recommendations that make sense to you.

How Is Integral Deep Listening A Dream Yoga?

A “yoga” is a psychospiritual discipline whose purpose is integration or oneness. Most dream yogas focus on learning to be lucid while dreaming, that is, aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. They then go on to make recommendations about how to stay lucid and what to do or not do during lucid dreams. This is a singular line of development that may or may not have anything to do with developing your authentic self. Consequently, IDL focuses on lucid living, that is, to wake you up out of the dreamlike delusions of your waking life, while strengthening your waking, dreaming and meditative lucidity. Waking lucidity is a priority because even if you wake up in your dreams, you will still perceive the dream from the point of view of your present level of awakening, that is, from your current level of development. IDL demonstrates that the more that you become lucid in your waking life the more likely you are to recognize and counteract delusion in any state of consciousness, including dreaming and lucid dreaming. It is this movement out of drama and into clarity, empathy, and inner peace in any state of consciousness, waking or dreaming or deeply asleep, that is a marker of alignment with your authentic self.

IDL is also a dream yoga in that it views experience as a state of perceptual cognitive distortion. IDL does not believe that life is not real or is a delusion, but that our perception of life is unclear, resulting in mistaken perceptions and poor decision-making, because we are out of touch with our authentic self. IDL is a yoga, or integral life practice which is designed to wake you up out of successive levels of delusion and into closer alignment with your authentic self.

What Is My “Authentic Self“?

From our infancy we advance in lines of ego development which are physiological, affective, and cognitive as well as in various auxiliary lines, such as proprioceptive ability (sports), music, mathematics, communication skills, and even more specifically, the aptitudes associated with some trade or career, whether it is fishing, welding, medicine, or politics. The development of these “lines” is promoted by our parents, teachers, and society to develop self control and aptitudes designed to generate financial security, happiness in relationships, the stability and skills necessary to raise a family, status, prosperity, and in short, to meet the social expectations of a “good citizen.”

This “self” serves the purposes of survival in the world and so is important and indeed essential, the problem is that we believe it is who we are. Our identity becomes a form of “psychological geocentrism” in which reality revolves around our socially contrived assumptions about who we are –  our name, nationality, religion, career, and social status. A typical life is about either its development or the advancement of some specialized line, like lucid dreaming or meditation, that gives us the assurance that we are different and not just another sheep in the herd.

The problem is that meditation, lucid dreaming, and various other specialized lines can run off and leave the rest of you. The result is that you become a skewed, unbalanced person as indeed, most highly “spiritual” people tend to be.

The authentic self is different; it is not about you at all. It isn’t even a self. Instead, it is an evolving presence that is directed by emerging potentials and your life compass and that is both ethical and deeply empathetic. You can catch a sense of this authentic self in the presence of dogs, dolphins and young children who are yet to be socialized. But your authentic self is not a romanticized regression to some early, prior, “garden of Eden” identity or existence; it includes but transcends your cognitive and auxiliary lines as well as your various lines of ego development, but is not a Self, Atman, soul, state of unification with deity or some other form of psychological heliocentrism. Instead, it is multi-perspectival, everywhere and nowhere, everything and nothing,

Although such paradoxical formulations sound either mysterious or frustrating, they are verifiable through IDL interviewing, that is, through a transpersonal integral life practice that is accessible to anyone, even children.

Is IDL Therapy, Coaching, Or Education?

For most people, IDL is life coaching in finding and living out of one’s authentic self. Such a program of coaching, as a dream yoga and integral life practice, is suitable for the vast majority of children and adults. However, it is hardly a cure-all and needs to be used as an adjunctive therapy with chronic issues, particularly when co-morbidity is present. In either case, as coaching or therapeutic applications, IDL is essentially teaching by doing, in a playful immersion in perspectives and issues that are intimately associated with each unique individual.

IDL invites everyone to combine their talents, system of belief, and areas of expertise with IDL. There is no hierarchy in IDL and everyone has equal access to life and can contribute understandings that broaden what IDL is.

Because IDL is a phenomenological methodology, it is relatively immune to such factors as degree of education, dogmatism, assumptions about what is real, true, and good and what is not. In fact, practicing IDL teaches us to lay aside our assumptions, biases, prejudices and expectations, as well as our precious interpretations, for the period of time that we take the perspective of this or that dream element or personification of a life issue of importance to us. Afterward, we are free to pick them up again and interpret the entire interviewing process through the lens of our own particular life context.

What Makes IDL Empirical?

The epistemological pluralism described by Ken Wilber in his Eye to Eye, with its three types of knowing (sensibilia, intelligibilia, and transcendelia, all guided by the three strands of empiricism (injunctions, experimentation, and peer review) as an excellent way to honor various types of truth while being able to differentiate between those which are transpersonal (include but transcend rational tests) and those which are prepersonal (cannot or do not meet rational tests.) For example, the scientific method says, “Here is the experimental design; follow it. Submit your findings to peers in the method for validation.” IDL and all yogas – and even cooking – use this model. IDL says, “Interview emerging potentials and follow those recommendations that make sense to you. Operationalize them so they can be measured. Submit your results to peers, the court of public opinion, and your own common sense.” Like empirical methods, IDL encourages doubt, skepticism and testing rather than simple belief.

What Is The Relationship Between Your Authentic Self And The Transpersonal?

“Transpersonal” means to be awake in ways that transcend but include any sense of self. There is no “real” you, but you contain multiple “yous” of greater or lesser reality.

To be transpersonal, a practice must do two things. First, it needs to create stable stage development rather than temporary state expansion. Almost anything, from psychological catharsis, hypnosis, love, altar calls, to lucid dreaming, psychic, mystical, near death and shamanic experiences create temporary state expansion or transpersonal experiences or states. We experience these can easily think that we are enlightened because we have experienced powerful experiences of enlightenment. But our subsequent everyday behavior, our return to our routine habits of thought, feeling, behavior, provide convincing evidence that we are not enlightened. Enlightened states are not permanent stages of enlightenment.

For example, lucid dreaming is not a sign that you are enlightened, but an indication that you have gained objectivity on one auxiliary developmental line that deals with another state of consciousness, dreaming.

In IDL interviewing, when you become an emerging potential, you may experience such a temporary state transformation; such openings are typical, and they are important, but they are not lasting transpersonal consciousness, nor do they necessarily have anything to do with your authentic self. In IDL, permanent higher stage access, that is permanent lucidity, awakening and enlightenment is achieved through continuous re-emersion and application of those recommendations that make sense to you.

The second thing a practice must do in order to be worthy of the title “transpersonal” is include both belief and reason and then transcend them. While almost all practices claim to do this, on close observation, few do. Openings that are devotional or psychic, including most mystical experiences, are pre-rational because they do not require reason. Children and criminals can have them. Openings by scientists like Einstein or by thorough-going humanists like Orwell or Kafka may be extremely valuable and extraordinarily rational, but are not transpersonal unless they are permanent. Meditation can create permanent stage development in clarity, self-definition and other core qualities of enlightenment because it can transcend both belief and reason as a trans-rational, trans-personal experiential process.

IDL is transpersonal in both ways. It accesses stable development to higher stages of lucidity, clarity, awakening and enlightenment. It is a yoga, or injunctive method, that, when followed, transcends both belief and reason. It transcends belief through its phenomenological methodology of suspending belief, and it transcends reason by accessing perspectives that are both rational and represent beliefs, but which transcend and include both. These perspectives are not personal – they have no permanent identity – and they are neither irrational nor purely rational. They are trans-rational. They are often absurd, such as transpersonal dog slobber, and often riotously funny, but beneath that they are rational. Therefore, while they may appear ridiculous, they cannot be dismissed as irrational, because they clearly and obviously are not. Note that most yogas do not meet both of these criteria, although they often provide important state openings to the transpersonal, like kundalini yoga, or a solid foundation on some lower developmental stage, as hatha yoga does. Similarly, meditation used for stress management or for accessing some specific state of consciousness, such as bliss, does not either

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