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Integral Thought Leaders Ken Wilber & Marc Gafni
A beautiful talk emerged from Ken’s and Marc’s weekly phone conversations preparing their book on Integral Wisdom about how the evolved and awake human being engages evil and suffering.
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Board Meeting 2014: On Success 3.0
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Unique Self Psychology and the New Enlightenment Blog by Dr. Elliott Ingersoll
And you may see me tonight
With an illegal smile
It don’t cost very much
But it lasts a long while
- John Prine
My father always said the best way to get into an argument is to talk politics or religion. In this blog I do both by discussing illegal drugs that are starting to be recognized as having medicinal and psychological benefits. Discussions about illegal drugs evoke passions powered by a zeal approaching religiosity as well as convictions equaling the propaganda of political conventions. Being as I am a psychologist with 20 years of experience studying psychopharmacology, I will focus on the psychological and even social benefits that may come from proper use of MDMA (“Ecstasy”), hallucinogens (LSD and psilocybin) and cannabis (marijuana). For many people the idea of these drugs being useful or even therapeutic is as ridiculous as ice dancers at a pig roast. Others believe the legal use of them would trigger a Grateful Dead apocalypse that would bring down the free world in an orgy of drumming and dancing. My sense is that the proper use of these agents will bring about a more humane society, decrease the prison population, contribute to a psychology of ecstasy and provide harmlessly fun anecdotes beyond the usual “…so we were drinking down at Rays Place…”
Make no mistake; all the drugs on my list are psychoactive substances that affect your brain, your state of mind and your choice of snacks. We do not understand terribly much about how they work but don’t let that bother you; we don’t really understand how any psychiatric medications “work” when they work (aside from stimulants like amphetamines and anti-anxiety drugs like Valium). Now I am not going to go on a conspiracy theory “rant” about our ignorance of the brain, drug companies or psychiatric medications but professionals like me are ethically obliged to tell laypeople at least three things that some of my fellow professionals consider somewhat, well, embarrassing:
- We still do not know what causes any mental disorder listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5). We have theories but none are conclusive.
- When a medication works to decrease symptoms of a mental disorder we don’t know why. Again we have theories but because we don’t understand how the brain works, we don’t fully understand what drugs affecting the brain are doing.
- The legal drugs psychiatry uses to treat psychological suffering (and which we don’t fully understand) are at best nominally effective and at worst harmful and potentially lethal.
Whoops! I just let the cat out of the bag so to speak but this kitty is not a conspiracy feline; she is simply a kitty–she was really just born; she is young with a long life of growth and discovery ahead of her. The brain is among the most complex and strange things in our known universe (followed closely by dark matter, dark energy, and the Shift Network). Psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience in general have made great strides in the previous 3 decades. It’s just that the strides are more like baby steps and baby steps are better than no steps. The drugs that I discuss in this article may be pharmaceutical technologies that will add to our knowledge of the brain, the causes of mental illnesses and better ways to treat them (as well as better ways to treat each other).
One thing we do know about the 3-pound organ between our ears is that its default mode is belief. Our brains evolved to make meaning of things even if the actual meaning is unknown. In other words when in doubt we make stuff up. This is not necessarily bad. Our distant ancestors survived by believing that a rustling sound in the weeds was a tiger wanting to eat them for lunch rather than the wind blowing. Those who won the Darwin award got eaten by the tiger and taken out of the gene pool. Of course another part of our evolutionary legacy is the hard-earned ability to examine our beliefs and decide if they are resourceful or not. As a society, it seems that we are finally doing that where some psychoactive drugs are concerned. We are at a turning point regarding drugs where we can discard beliefs that cause more harm than good and exploring attitudes and policies that may do more good than harm.
Consider a drug with the street name “ecstasy.” The chemical name is a mouthful (3, 4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ) so we’ll just call it MDMA for short. In all fairness the street name conveys more than most of its labels. People who take MDMA report feeling emotional warmth and compassion toward others, more ability to forgive themselves and are less likely to be triggered into fear or horror by traumatic memories. Before it was outlawed in 1985 it was successfully being used by psychotherapists to help people recover from trauma, improve relationships and reduce anxiety. True it was also used and abused at Rave dances but so was alcohol.
Clinical somatic education, otherwise known as Hanna Somatic education, makes use of a major “mind/body” discovery. Its use and practice can prevent degeneration, stiffness, aches and pains, certain diseases and age-old health breakdowns in our middle age and older populations. It has the power to dramatically counteract the aging process. But, not only can it counteract the usual affects of aging, it also has the power to REVERSE them. Now, thanks to Thomas Hanna, we have an easy internal way to avoid the decline of bodily function, which is now usually thought of as the curse of getting older.
The fact is that during the course of our lives, our sensory motor systems respond to daily stresses and traumas with SPECIFIC MUSCULAR REFLEXES. These deep stress brain reflexes, when repeatedly triggered, create habitual tightening and shortening muscular contractions, which we cannot voluntarily relax. These muscular habits become so deeply ingrained, habituated, involuntary and unconscious that eventually insidiously we no longer remember how to move about freely. The result is stiffness, soreness, pain and a restricted range of motion. Along with this also in many cases the posture becomes distorted. Furthermore, the habitually shortened tight muscles impinge and pull on our organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other bodily structures. This habituated state of “forgetfulness” is called SENSORY MOTOR AMNESIA (a state in which the sensory motor cortex has lost control of certain muscles and muscle groups). It is this insidious unconscious process and its secondary effects that we falsely think of as “just growing older.” Actually this “old age” is a STRESS-induced phenomenon that can really happen at any age. With the new knowledge of somatic education, humankind need not become infirm and decrepit.
The habituated stress reflexes that cause sensory motor amnesia are the following:
- RED LIGHT REFLEX — The red light reflex is caused by fear and worry, which can result in hunched shoulders and a rounded back. When the red light reflex is incessantly triggered the stooped posture can contribute to heart disease, depression, nervousness, shortness of breath and many other maladies.
- GREEN LIGHT REFLEX — The green light reflex is also called the Landau reaction, which also is the mark of the responsible adult, who lives by clocks, calendars, quotas, commissions, etc. This is the go-go-go reflex. When the green light reflex is incessantly triggered it can cause fatigue, high blood pressure, swayback, soreness, and back, neck and shoulder pain that might require surgery if left untreated, among other ailments. (This is culturally induced).
- TRAUMA REFLEX — The trauma reflex is caused by falls or accidents such as car wrecks, ski accidents, athletic injuries and the like. This is when the posture looks out of balance with one shoulder higher than the other. This can cause pain and perhaps a need for surgery.
One of the things that Hanna discovered is that when we bring the body back into balance many surgeries can be avoided. SOMATICS can help one escape the deleterious effects of the above reflexes by bringing the body back into balance. The good news is these negative effects have been learned and they can be unlearned.
Clinical somatic education is EDUCATION — it’s education of the brain. How can bad habits be unlearned? By re-educating the sensory motor cortex and the neuromuscular system. One can reprogram the neuromuscular system through the use of slow, simple movements called PANDICULATIONS. (More about this later). These movements can be done with a certified Clinical Somatic Practitioner or by yourself on the floor. These movements, which involve contracting certain muscles, send signals to the sensory motor cortex. The sensory motor cortex, in turn, sends signals back to relax and reconnect to the muscles and takes control again. The results are smooth functioning of the brain/muscles, relaxation of muscles, pain relief, restoration of balanced posture, and the relief of pressure on surrounding bodily structures. The result is RELIEF AND RESTORATION of one’s previous more youthful self.
The practice of somatics actually creates new neural pathways in the sensory motor cortex, restoring healthy whole body function and returning the system to its former healthier state.
One of the most exciting things to remember about practicing somatics is that human beings now have the power to direct their CONSCIOUSNESS to take control of their own healthcare and not to depend so much on others. Remember, through practicing somatics much of what ails humankind can eventually be eradicated.
Hanna said, “I am convinced that a program of early training and sensory motor awareness and motor control would cause, within the span of one generation, a reversal of the major public health problems.” He also said that “somatic exercises can change how we live our lives, how we believe that our minds and bodies interrelated, how powerful we think we are in controlling our lives, and how responsible we should be in taking care of our total being. In fact, as these discoveries related to our conception of what human beings are and what they can be, has broad philosophical implications for understanding the nature of our existence.”
Some of this material was taken from the following books:
Watch Mary Ann showing some practical exercises
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The goal of an “integral psychology” is to honor and embrace every legitimate aspect of human consciousness by embracing what is true in each of them. This portal on the Center for Integral Wisdom multi-plex presents an integrative view of consciousness, psychology, and therapy.
The rise of an Integral Psychology is one of the greatest invitations of the century. It draws on pre-modern, modern, and postmodern psychological models to find patterns which are healing, transformational, and integrated in a model that includes mind, soul, and spirit.
The psychological models also include interior and exterior distinctions, levels or structures of consciousness, typologies, and states of consciousness. Integral Psychology is the understanding that we have this great new source of wisdom in the world which emerged.
There has been a huge contribution to thought in the past couple hundred years with Freud but also with our new understanding of the human mind which says that we hold in our conscious selves what we make unconscious, including the early drivers (wounds) that shape our personality and deconstruct the vital eros within us.
Integral Psychology offers maps, each of which offer a set of healings or techniques to return the human being to fuller human existence, a more effective being and becoming.
Each of the 11 or 12 major schools of psychology has a somewhat different map of existence, of the human mind, and distinct suggestions for what the best method is for transformation. What Integral psychology seeks to do is to recognize what is true in each of these seemingly exclusive models. Specifically, it recognizes that each of them is true but partial.
Each school of psychology speaks to and addresses a different level of human existence or consciousness. All of them are healing and need to be integrated into the healing wisdom of humanity.
In trying to evolve a global ethic for a global civilization, we need to integrate them into a seamless psychological model that includes all the elements of mind, soul, and spirit. Likewise all the interior and exterior dimensions must be included.
Finding the best practices of all the schools of psychology is one of the great invitations of this century.
In the Integral Psychology portal you find media, essays, and blogs on Unique Self & Psychology, Unique Shadow, Integral Psychology, and much more. Enjoy!
- Illegal Smile on Parole
- Somatics: Dispelling the Myth of Aging
- Welcome to the Integral Psychology Portal
- Evolutionary Love and the Unique Self Symphony
- Integral Planet & the Emergence Project: Daniel Schmachtenberger on a New Trajectory for Humanity
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