My personal view of integral life

Applying AQAL to physical exercise

Assignment #1 – [Applying AQAL to physical training] [Olli Sovijärvi]

This is the first assignment on Core Integral course we’re having this fall. Comments on red Italics are from our teacher, Clint Fuhs who is the co-founder of Core Integral. I’m answering to those in the text as you will see when you read this through…

My area of interest on the topic came out pretty naturally since I have been, am and will be a physical exercise and health enthusiastic. I will discuss here shortly how to apply AQAL to physical training and how it will dramatically increase overall workout and exercise capacity. By applying integral vision to body-mind-spirit via physical exercise can also produce life term benefits on overall health.

Following hundreds of people doing physical exercises with bad or even zero results have lead me to think how AQAL application would change the situation dramatically. To begin with, every human being is a unique self whose personal needs and goals would be a priority number one. Opening all perspectives with the four quadrants is the first step. How does a person see herself from 1st person, 2nd person and 3rd person perspectives? How are her emotions correlated to the actions she is taking? How is her family: supporting or depressing? And finally, what is the person’s social environment and how are for example the financial circumstances in her life? After mapping all the quadrants it would come to a question at what stage or level the person is on different developmental lines. Mapping the whole integral psychograph is not necessary, but it would be most important to figure out the stage the person is at on selected developmental lines. Cognitive development affects all other developmental lines and as Piaget (1936) put it, cognitive development is necessary but not sufficient on developing other lines. Kinesthetic line would be of greatest importance naturally, but also the values line plays an important role on finding out her motives and level of dedication.

Nice set of questions here…this is forming a good basis for holisitic individual assessment…how can you bring that into the realm of physical training more fully?

At first, the most important thing is the interview of the client or patient or friend, who is taking the next step on physical training.
1) I would had the person in question write of the weaknesses and strengths she has in first person descriptive language
2) then I would like to hear a conversation with her friend of the physical condition she is having now (there might come something different than just writing at the 1st person perspective)
3) and then I would put her to imagine herself from 3rd person view as on “outsider” and see how she would be seen through others eyes on her physical capacities

After this with a short questionnaire we could approach the collective side and consider LL and LR quadrants. How is the family background and what is her social stance at the moment. For example: if she was from a repressive family where physical movement was really not present, it will be much harder to encourage such a person to physical activities.

And the overall developmental stage also affects the start points I would start the exercise routine with.

->  With little experience and no history of encouraging physical environment I would have to begin with the basics of creating neuro-muscular-connections and building the movement chains from ground zero. And on the other hand with a client who has been physically active as a child but maybe not being active for a few years, it would still be easier to start building the exercise routine since there is a memory for certain movements and all I have to do is to bring them on “surface” again.

From levels and lines I would move to the types: is she more masculine or feminine? Are her goals on fitness and physical capacity more on the feminine communion side or directed more to the masculine agency?  Less an assessment of goals and more so of the essence embodied in an approach to acheiving these goals. And how could those two different types be integrated leading to more integral approach on physical exercise? From there it would be important to move to the states of consciousness and to all three bodies (gross, subtle, causal) since it is possible and especially desirable to exercise all of those separately and even at the same time. Combining the three bodies at one single workout was a totally new concept to me before reading the Integral Life Practice (Wilber etc., 2008). Exercising all three bodies is also an important topic at Strength For Life (Phillips, 2008). And what is even more interesting is that Philip’s F.I.T. program is the Golden Star practice on ILP (2008) at the body module. According to the latest research (SPARK; Ratey, 2008) exercising complex body movements also develops brain creating new neural pathways and even produces new neurons.

Nice…this is all true…and I still ask…how are you bringing this into your application? What would you shift specifically to bring these benefits to life….just questions to consider as we move forward.

At this point I would teach each client how to access to the three bodies through exercise and practice those individually. To most people all there is, is the gross body. So this might be on some people quite a shock to learn of the subtle body and causal body. Depending on the person’s awareness to reality and to even spiritual realms this might be an easy task or a really really hard task.

What I have been doing is taking together a short breathing exercise and at the same time clearing the mind from thoughts. I am really careful on using the term “meditation” since this might cause resistance on some people. Instead this is just a short breathing exercise on getting in touch with the causal. By practicing concentration and breathing it is easy to apply this to for example strength training before every movement and during each individual exercise motion. On the subtle body “side” I usually teach simple tai-chi movements and simple yoga postures. This is the easiest way to get in touch with subtle energies.

Then again applying all these together might not be an easy task but is very doable and with a few friends of mine I have had really great results on strength training focusing on all three bodies.

Benefits to life are obvious to me: after being learned all this in my experience people naturally apply them also to work, studying and relationships. And they feel the difference in their overall well-beings. Most people practice concentrated breathing for example at times when really stresses or for example before an exciting work situation: a few minutes with this three body exercise is enough to bring consciousness in to the now and releasing the pressure.

Nutrition is a topic of its own and I will not be discussing it here, but to me it is closely attached to physical training deducing even greater results; actually it is the core of all physical training. Applying AQAL model to physical training is a 2nd tier step on developing physical and mental well being.

This last sentence is quite ripe for our first integral discourse practice…how are you using AQAL as a stand in for integral here? What type of use is it….what is it about this new approach that would make it integral. Is it something we ought to do…if so, why? Or is it something that you are describing as such. If so, is it that way…is it really 2nd tier?  Make sure to address these types of things when using the term integral in this manner.

Well, I see it this way: to apply Integral Theory and AQAL model at work or other practice usually requires 2nd tier integral developmental stage. Or this is how I would see it. Maybe it necessary is not always the case. And as I have understood, only at 2nd tier is it possible to have multiple perspectives and understand “lower” developmental stages basic values and structures. I see that this could really help when trying to develop a person’s physical training methods.

I give you a personal example:
About 15 years ago when I started lifting weights it was all about the looks and was really egocentric training. LAter it turned into more ethnocentric disliking “fat people” and the people who were not in shape. There was this clan “we weightlifters” and then the others. And 5-7 years ago it shifted to worldcentric view seeing the training as a part of overall well-being and encouraging others to do it as well. And 2-3 years ago I think being shifted into Integral only after that shift I have really seen why people are not willing or simply can’t exercise their bodies and minds on a level for example I can. And this has got to do with realizing the values structures certain people are at.


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Categorised in: Integral, Sports

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