Episode 23: getting started creating a sustainable integral practice for body, mind, shadow, and spirit
To change our habits, we have to interrupt our patterns. To build new habits, we need new, healthy patterns. In recovery, nothing matters more.
For the recovering addict, an inpatient treatment program or wilderness program breaks us out of our familiar behaviors by changing our surroundings and our routines. It can be a powerful catalyst for starting down a new path, and many people experience profound shifts as a life of sobriety, possibility, and hope emerges during the early stages of treatment.
The shift of behavior and perspective is encouraging both to the recovering addict and to the practitioners facilitating their recovery. Change is possible; we’ve glimpsed it. Inevitably, though, the treatment ends, and the addict must return to their former life – and all the triggering people, places, and things that life entails.
How, then, do we make the long-term behavioral changes necessary to sustain our recovery? And beyond recovery, how do we continue to develop into the best versions of ourselves so that we can live lives of joy, contribution, and fulfillment?
The key is to build a sustainable daily practice that addresses the four essential development lines of Body, Mind, Emotion/Shadow, and Spirit.
Heavily informed and inspired by the groundbreaking work of philosopher Ken Wilber, the Integral Recovery movement is practice-centric. At its core, Integral Recovery is a diverse community of people “doing the work” to sustain our recoveries, (not only from alcoholism and addiction, but from depression, trauma, anxiety, self-limitation, and more) and then to transform our lives as we begin to align with and live our highest purpose.
It's a noble goal; a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit. But it’s not always easy. In fact, creating and maintaining an Integral Practice for life can be a monumental challenge, especially in the beginning.
For the recovering addict, the beginning stage is the most critical. But no matter how many days, months, or years we've been clean, we need a sustainable strategy for dealing with challenges as our lives are rebuilt, our past is healed, and our bodies, minds, emotions, shadows, and spirits are healed.
There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to implementing Integral Practice. But John Dupuy, Dr. Bob Weathers, and Doug Prater have all been in the trenches for years, studying, experimenting, and fine-tuning their own strategies for creating and sustaining a transformative practice in the four key dimensions of body, mind, spirit and shadow.
In this episode of the Journey of Integral Recovery, the trio dives deep into the nuances of their own practices and routines, sharing their tips, tricks, techniques, and strategies for overcoming resistance, working with fear, keeping ourselves accountable, and maintaining balance.
When we commit ourselves to a life of growth, practice, and continued development, the life we create becomes its own reward.
No matter what challenges and struggles we face, the journey begins from where we stand. And we walk forward, together, one step at a time.
[1:15] How do we sustain our recovery when we leave treatment? The origins of Integral Practice and how it became an essential part of Integral Recovery. [4:45] What are the four components of practice? Why is keeping our bodies strong and flexible, our minds sharp, our emotions healthy, and our connection with spirit growing so critical not only to our sobriety but to our continued growth and evolution? [6:54] Why is it critical to bring out our essential goodness and give our gifts to the world? [7:44] How is an interior contemplative practice different than religion, and why is it a necessary component of recovery and growth? [9:08] How do we approach our practice and narrow down what specific dimensions and practices to focus on? Does our typology factor into which practices we choose? [10:01] What are some examples of a strong mental practice and how can we work with our minds for optimal development? What are some practices we can engage in and how do they ingrate and strengthen the other Integral Recovery practices? [12:00] Doug’s shadow and emotional practice of Profound Releasing, Journaling, Gratitude Journaling, and reflection – and how this is used to repair a damaged self-image and heal trauma and limiting beliefs. [12:37] Overcoming the traps of spiritual practice, and our limitations and preconceptions that frequently accompany our understanding of what spiritual practice entails, what it means, and what it can do for us. [14:10] Conversation and connection as an important component of spiritual practice. Why connecting with the right people and avoiding toxic conversations is critical. [15:38] Tracking our behaviors and using a system to keep up with the components of our Integral Recovery practice. How to set appropriate goals for each dimension of practice. The importance of knowing ourselves through observing tendencies and trends in our behaviors. [18:04] What to do when parts of our practice become difficult and we begin to develop resistance [19:43] The subtle ego battle of tracking and other associated pitfalls of measuring and monitoring our behaviors [20:30] Dr. Bob’s “soul practice” and how tending to the creative and expressive dimensions integrate and combine the other dimensions of recovery practice [21:40] Carl Jung’s theory of the two types of shadow, and why becoming aware of and then tending to both is necessary for successful, holistic shadow work [22:35] Resistance to doing the work we care most about and why we repress our emergent creativity and the practices that bring us the most joy. [23:40] Nature favors the status quo: why novelty is a threat, and how we can recognize and transcend our procrastination, hesitation, and fear to overcome negatively bias [25:45] Why the small distractions, like checking the news, email, and social media can derail an entire day and keep us from doing the work that requires willpower and attunement to our higher selves. [26:43] The fear that arises when doing creative work – fear of judgment, of unworthiness, and more – and how to work with it and move through it by leaning in with courage and heart. [27:31] Thinking of our creative practices like a meditation practice and returning again and again when our minds want to wander. The importance of creating rituals and making creativity a formal practice. Using “Stealing Flow” as a tool to ritualize and empower our creative work. [28:47] Habitica: The fun, engaging web-based tool that Doug uses for gamification of habits and Integral Recovery practice. [29:56] Why accountability can help us overcome resistance and borrowing courage from the support of our peers, coaches, and guides [30:35] The sand-timer trick to “just start” and using mini-habits to overcome the hurdle of procrastination and fear [31:40] Why it’s important for our coaches to be there “in the trenches” with us [32:41] The power of grit, resilience, and a vision of what our lives could be like [34:01] The emergence of hope and the stages of change – how we move from unbearable to uncomfortable to unstoppable in our daily integral practice [35:08] Rigidness and flexibility – when to stay the course and when to adjust our practices and our requirements. How can change and adapt the shape our practice to fit our current goals and levels of growth [36:00] Mini-Habits: setting a behavior that’s so “stupidly small” that it’s just as easy to do as not to do…and how this chain of positive behavior works with our willpower and natural tendencies by overcoming fear and resistance. [38:07] The flip side: “Boot Camp” – throwing yourself into the deep end to create radical change quickly. [40:01] The connection of mini-habits and boot camp: balancing compassion and grace with boot camp through the accountability and support of your community [41:52] Why the willingness to be a beginner is an essential step on the path to greatness in any dimension of practice or life
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