OCTOBER 4, 2018

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“Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. we must hold each other tight & continue to pull back the veil.”
— Adrienne Maree Brown

Uncovered, yes. All of it at once, it seems, and undeniably. Racism. Sexism. Abuse. Privilege. Unjust war. Injustice, period. Environmental destruction. The myriad wrongs baked into our human existence, that have been driving us for centuries in misguided directions. Nobody can look away from how we’ve been hurting each other and killing the world.

Behind the veil, also, is astounding kindness. And incredible, blinding fear.

Fast and furious the revelations come, at disturbing, often triggering speeds. Calling into question what we’ve built our lives on. Yanking some out of complicity, out of sleep. Making others defensive and scared, having them burrow down into beliefs and hide behind catch phrases and false idols. Causing still others to be relieved and/or pissed that others are only just seeing what they themselves have known all along.

We’re bumpedy-bump-bump bumping through a kind of cosmic turbulence into new, uncharted territory, being forced to reckon with all we’re leaving behind. No problem can be overcome unless it’s examined. Here we are now, in the great examination. The great facing of consequence.

We are all required to be uncomfortable.

And we are all doing what we will with that discomfort: deny, wake up, be inspired, get impatient, get enraged. Be open and humble, admit to what we’ve done wrong, to how scared we are. Or double down on irrelevant narratives that reassure us that we needn’t change even as our world inevitably speeds toward newness. Or hover, frozen, unsure yet of what to do.

Likely different combination of these for everyone.

Hold tight to each other, yes, but not to what no longer serves.

What is your experience of discomfort in these times? How are you supported? How are you able to support others?

The 2019 Year Launch workshop & teleclass is a chance to immerse yourself in these questions. 

Joy is an Integral Coach and New Ventures West's Creative Director. More writing can be found on her blog

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Something like 56 million sensory impressions come into our body at any given moment. We walk around or drive around listening to music, talking to people, reading billboards, thinking/planning/evaluating and, in midst of all that, someone or something interrupts us and takes our attention in a different direction.

Our life could be seen easily as a series of interruptions, one after another. The real question, though, is what are we being interrupted from? Isn’t it often the case that what we are being interrupted from is an earlier interruption from something else?

How far back does this chain of interruptions go? And what was the starting point?

We have appointments, starting and ending times for events, dates to meet people, vacations that we put in our schedule, and the endlessly revolving cycle of recurring events, holy days, holidays, birthdays. All these interrupt our usual daily activities. But don’t we go ahead and interrupt them with our daily activities—at least those that we feel we must adhere to—no matter the significance of a given day? More interrupting of our interruptions.

In the midst of all this it is very difficult to keep track of what we are really up to in our life. Can we, in fact, be up to anything when we are tossed around in the way I’m describing (which is, I know, on the mild side of the description— many of us live much more tempestuous lives)? What is our through line? What is the genuine ground we’re standing on?

Oh, I know we all have our explanations. We can readily answer the question “what are you up to?” with a long, sometimes compelling list of our commitments, projects and relationships. Some of us have mission statements. Do these explanations, though, account for how we actually spend our time?

Is our life’s reality the explanation we give to it or is it what we spend our time doing? And does it count as “doing” when it’s not in our plan, when it’s something that we somehow bounced into from being interrupted from what was interrupting us?

Meanwhile, our time on earth is like a flash of lightning in the sky or like the morning dew on the grass: very soon gone.

Will we be like Tolstoy’s tragic protagonist Ivan Ilyich (the central character in his important short story, The Death of Ivan Ilyich) and catch on to our life when it’s too late?

The last question is the one that is probably at the origination point for Integral Coaching.

What can minimize our spinning off into random activity and return us most quickly to what is essentially important? If we don’t have good answers to that question, I think we do stand a good chance of ending up like Ivan Ilyich. So here are some of my answers.

The most important thing for us to remember is to keep coming back to our self. By our “self,” though, I don’t mean what is often spoken about as the “self” in our culture. I’m not referring to the collection of preferences, desires, fears, habits, socialized views, momentum of ego and so on that we protect with so much vigor and vehemence.

Rather I’m pointing to something much more mysterious that arises in each moment and connects us to what is happening and what has happened—in a sense, a frontier of potential unique responsiveness. The culmination of all biological/social wisdom that can possibly show up just now, just this way. A phenomenon to be studied in awe and reverence rather than to be owned or controlled or identified with. Something/someone never quite done but always in process, always unfolding, always developing—sometimes quite slowly, sometimes quite quickly and dramatically. Different each time we look and made different by our looking.

I’m saying that our most important task as a human being is to keep returning to this sense, this feeling that isn’t exactly an experience, that has much more precise content and boundaries, but that gives rise to all possible experiences. It’s returning again and again to the one who is present, here. The one who is aware. The task is as Jesus said to his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane (a wonderful evocative reference to our everyday life where so much is at stake and where we feel a huge pull to go to sleep): stay awake and keep watch. It’s what Buddha asked us to do when he said be a lamp unto yourself. It’s what all the prophets spoke about as they implored us to keep returning to the central sacred core of our being and our personal connection to something larger than our usual identity.

More than anything else it’s important for us to build in practices, rituals, reminders that return us again and again to our self. This self-remembering is the practice of breaking the trance of activity and habit that we so easily fall into and that makes us into automatons.

I think it’s our only chance to be alive.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of the Distinctions newsletter

Photo by Dan on Unsplash

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JULY 3, 2018

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At the Shift Network's 2018 Enneagram Global Summit, James Flaherty joined host Jessica Dibb to for a profound discussion about the many ways that Buddhism and the Enneagram overlap. They explore how integrating the Enneagram into a Buddhist practice allows us to come to it with greater openness and understanding. By giving us insight into the specific obstacles to our own awakening, the Enneagram can help reveal the trailhead to the particular work we are here to do, both on and off the cushion.

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MAY 31, 2018

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For many years now, I’ve been curious about time.

It started one day about ten years ago. I had left Yahoo! the previous year, just created my coaching practice, and was new to building a business. I had a number of questions running through my mind, the most prominent being, 'How could I find clients?'

Driven by a bit of anxiety, I slipped back into some very old work patterns and my self-care became almost non-existent. I cut my daily meditations short or skipped them altogether. I didn’t take walks or do any other exercise. I started setting up meetings with anyone I could think of in my LinkedIn profile. I didn’t return my personal emails and almost lost touch with friends. I skipped meals and found myself going to bed at 2am. I was exhausted.

Fast Forward Into the Fast Lane

And all the while my life sped up. And not in that ‘flow’ kind of way where we lose our sense of time and there's a natural ease, but the other kind of speeding up. The one where it feels like you’re hurling through the world and the world is hurling itself back at you.

It all seemed to be going endlessly out of control. The more emails I sent out, the more appeared in my inbox. The more business calls I made, the more people called me out of the blue for what appeared to be random requests. The more meetings I set up, the more scheduling conflicts and cancellations I had.

I was confused. I was ‘getting out there’ and looking for new business. I was doing all of those marketing outreach strategies that I had always been told to do…that I had encouraged my clients to do! Why was everything suddenly exploding on me?  Whatever business I was creating turned into busyness. Everything seemed to be going a million miles an hour but nothing seemed to be getting done.

Hitting the Pause Button

At one point I saw in my mind’s eye a massive ball of energy that was starting to spin out of control. I was both the ball of energy and the one spinning it from the outside. Every movement I made, email I sent, meeting I set up, was all part of that spinning ball. The more busyness I created, the faster the ball went, and the more urgent I felt about time.

I paused and for the first time got curious about what was really happening. For a brief moment of what felt like total freedom, I stopped judging myself.

Then it clicked. What if I was actually able to control time, or at least my experience of it?  And not only that, but what if the flow of experiences that were happening to me were actually stemming from me?

Anything was better than the state I had gotten myself into. So, I started to experiment.

Creating a Conscious Shift

First, I decided to speed everything up for a few hours, just to see. Sure enough, everything intensified:  more emails, more calls, more cancellations. Was I going crazy?  Was this really true?

And at that moment I decided I had enough. I finally slowed down.

I got up and went to meditate for an hour. I canceled a bunch of meetings that didn’t feel right. I took the rest of the day off.

At first, it was extremely painful. I felt like I was going through a detox program as I let go of the busyness. However, I stayed connected to my awareness & curiosity and began to ask myself: If I could create an outer world that looked as if ‘random’ events were bombarding me, and time was speeding out of control, then maybe I could adjust my inner world to create a more natural flow of experiences.

So, I kept at it.

I sat down and wrote out my intentions for the next six months. I canceled more meetings, said no to more requests, and said yes to the ones that I felt were more aligned with my intentions. I took a day off from work and spent the time cleaning my place, my car, and giving away stuff I didn’t need. Slowly, I got back to my daily self-practices and exercise routines. I cleaned out my email and called people back who contacted me. I finally attended to my real needs and then put more care into others.

I let go of the fear of what would happen next.

A New World Revealed

For the first time in a while, I experienced more stillness in myself, almost a sense of timelessness. And after a while, it happened: my outer world changed. My email communication returned to normal, the right people were coming into my life, and I was actually getting more things done with less effort. Time no longer felt like an enemy that needed to be managed. I felt more at ease and more rested.

Of course, it took many years for me to experience that level of ease and flow in a more consistent way. It was almost as if I was initially allowed entrance into what felt like a timeless state for the sole purpose of knowing that it was there, and could be accessed at any time if I chose to. The potentiality of it at any moment became very real to me.

To this day, I continue to experiment.

Could it be that the more we attend to our self-care and act from a place of inner guidance on what's most aligned for us in each moment, the more flow and synchronicity we experience in our lives?  That's certainly been my experience.

I invite you to start experimenting with your relationship with time.

What does it open up for you?

Ryan Rigoli is a coach, consultant and musician based in northern California. More of his writing and other info on his website

Embark on a deep exploration of your own relationship to time, success, and meaning on The Integral Path, a 2-day workshop in San Francisco. 

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