Integral deep listening teaches that there are six core qualities. These are confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing. This number comes from observation of the cycle of every breath: abdominal inhalation, chest inhalation, pause, chest exhalation, abdominal exhalation, pause. Each of these phases of breathing can be associated with a life process. In order, these are awakening, aliveness, balance, detachment, freedom, and clarity. These processes can be associated with the round of a day in life as waking up, working, winding down, letting go at sleep, and the serenity of deep sleep. These can also be associated with the cycle of life itself as birth, growth through service, mastery, retirement, death, and life after death. They can be associated with the round of a year as early spring, spring, summer, fall, early winter, and the dead of winter. They can also be associated with the cycle of any relationship, business, or civilization as the start up honeymoon phase, the challenging developmental phase, the mastery, powerful, or competency stage, the winding down stage, termination, and the empty, open, over, forgotten stage. These life processes can also be associated with values. Abdominal inhalation and awakening can be associated with confidence; chest inhalation and expansion with growth, service, and, at best, compassion; the pause after inhalation is a balance point between alertness and relaxation that can be associated with wisdom; chest exhalation and detachment can be associated with acceptance; abdominal exhalation and freedom with inner peace, and the longer pause following exhalation and clarity with witnessing.
The names given these values by Integral Deep Listening are only arbitrary place holders for underlying experiences and perspectives. They could as easily be called other things. For example, confidence could be called fearlessness or courage; compassion could be called love, agape, or karuna; wisdom could be called discernment or knowingness; acceptance could be called tolerance or impartiality; inner peace could be called serenity or concord; witnessing could be called objectivity or open-mindedness. Other names could be used as long as they reflect the values associated with each of the processes of the stages of the round of breath, a day, and a life.
The core qualities are not made essential because there are six of them. The parts of a breath can be divided into more parts, for example by sub-dividing chest inhalation and exhalation into upper and lower chest inhalation and exhalation, as classical pranayama sometimes does, thereby producing more core qualities, or it could be divided into fewer parts (inhalation, pause, exhalation, pause, or just inhalation and exhalation), producing four or only two core qualities.
Integral Deep Listening teaches the following of the perspective of breath itself, which leaves the chest before it leaves the abdomen. This is to encourage disidentification with waking identity and an identification with the perspective of breath. It is also because this order follows the normal cycle of breath, the day, and every lifetime. In contrast, some forms of pranayama, or yogic breath control, teach abdominal exhalation preceding chest exhalation. This is mostly to teach breath control, generally as part of a process of stilling the body and mind to access higher states of consciousness, but also to hold breath longer. Some record breath holders do so, however, without using abdominal exhalation pranayama, implying that there is nothing intrinsic about this order and the ability to control and hold breath. Integral Deep Listening does not teach, nor does it encourage breath control, because its approach to expanding awareness is not based on control, nor are stilling the mind or accessing higher states of consciousness priorities for Integral Deep Listening as they are for traditional pranayama. Instead, it teaches access to perspectives that include a still mind as a natural byproduct and evolution into higher developmental stages that successively include, yet transcend previous ones. This is a very different proposition from accessing higher states of consciousness, because states are not stages of development and stages of development are not states. States are temporary, by definition; stages are permanent. States can be intense, ecstatic, and transformational, but they rarely lead to a lasting advance in developmental stage. This is because there is considerable inertia in habitual thinking, feeling, and behavior, in addition to considerable social pressures to maintain the status quo. Therefore, seeking transformational states is not a priority for Integral Deep Listening, although it does access these in the interviewing process. Those states rarely last, however.
What does make these six core qualities essential? Each contains the others. They may be said to “interdependently co-originate,” which means that they are equally essential, in the way that each part of a breath is essential, no matter how it is sub-divided or the order in which breathing is experienced. In the same way that each part of each breath you take is supported by the other parts, so are each of these six core qualities. Consequently, just as breathing suffers if one part of the cycle is eliminated, all core qualities are diminished when any one is not taken into account.
This way of thinking is different for those who have built their lives around one core quality or another. In contemporary Western culture, most choose love or its higher octave, compassion. Many people are brought up on a culture steeped in the power of love: “All You Need is Love,” “Love is the Answer,” “Love Will Find a Way,” “Love Will Keep Us Together.” The words of Jesus and the teachings of Christianity center on love. The testimonials of many people who have had near death experiences speak of the centrality of love. They may recount events like this conversation with God:
“And He said, ‘Let me ask you one thing — have you ever loved another the way you’ve been loved here?’ And I said, ‘No, it’s impossible. I’m a human.’ And then He just held me and said, ‘You can do better.’ ”
Here is another example:
“God’s not particularly interested in our material success in this world, but He’s interested in our relationships — how much we love one another — that’s what God cares about. And if you are doing you’re very best, no matter how humble it is, to love one another, God is EXTREMELY PLEASED with what you are doing.”
There you have it. God mostly cares about loving relationships, and if that is the case, then other values, as important as they are, are subsumed within and beneath that overarching value. The problem with this perspective is not that it is wrong – what is there to argue with? – but that it is partial. How so? There are times when love is not the answer, but confidence is. There are times when all you need is acceptance. There are times when wisdom will find a way. There are times when not love, but the objectivity of witnessing, will keep you together. What follows explains why each of the six core qualities is essential and necessary for balanced transformation from your current stage of development to the next higher one.
Imagine that you have a tool kit. Do you want to have only one tool in it? If it is a hammer, then everything gets treated as if it were a nail. If is a screwdriver, then everything gets screwed. If it is a pair of pliers, everything needs a twist or a pull. Clearly, those who have a number of tools in their tool kit have an advantage over those who do not, when it comes to problem solving. While the six core qualities did not evolve for this reason – they evolved out of the cycle of breath – this is a distinct advantage provided by this way of approaching life.
You can have all the core qualities, but if you are missing confidence, your fear will block your growth. Imagine an objective, compassionate, wise, accepting friend who also has inner peace because he is either oblivious to his fears, having ignored or repressed them, or he has created a belief system in which fear does not exist. Without genuine confidence, that friend is not going to be able to accurately assess or take risks; he will be the human equivalent of a contented cow. Without confidence, your friend will not learn to differentiate realistic fear from fantasy, and without that ability, he will either not take risks or will miscalculate and get hurt by something or someone he should fear but does not. He may also take foolish or unnecessary risks to attempt to compensate for his lack of genuine confidence.
US President George W. Bush fits this profile. He twice managed to convince enough of the US electorate that he possessed a sufficient amount of these six core qualities to get elected President of the United States. For example, he ran the first time as a “compassionate conservative.” While the lack of all of these qualities can easily be documented in Bush, it is the lack of confidence that in particular made his presidency a disaster, because his decisions were based on multiple fears. His fear that he would be a one-term president like his father appears to have been a major factor in prosecuting three ruinous wars of aggression, one on Iraq, another on “terror,” and a third on Afghanistan. His fear of appearing weak led him to authorize torture, extraordinary rendition, illegal detention, and the establishment of a national security apparatus which spies on all US citizens, in violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution.
Confronting antagonists in dreams is another example of phony, superficial, and counterproductive confidence. A mother reported,
My 11 year old daughter has had a recurring nightmare that’s terrifying her and affecting her. She dreams that she is awakened from sleep in her brother’s room. She then walks Down the hall into the bathroom and vomits in the tub. She turns to find a tall dark figure standing next to her with one hand on her shoulder.
I had recommended she do an interview with the antagonist in the dream, which she didn’t do. Instead she wrote,
I told her she had the power to.control her dreams. First we eliminated the possibility that something was bothering her. I can assure you it’s not sexual abuse. My children are well guarded and I do not allow strangers or family friends around them. I’m a victim and know what to do.
The approach I took was to tell her she can control her dreams and change them. I told her to stand up to the entity in her nightmare and let it know that she is a child of God and cannot be harmed. She is witness to Christ’s testimony. So she went to bed that night and I stood up all night in case she woke up and needed me. Well, she had the nightmare. She said in her dream as she was being led that she stood her ground and that at first the entity said no in a scary voice. Then she repeated her love for her Lord and Savior. The thing went away and she heard a voice that said, “well done.” She has not had the nightmare since and is sleeping peacefully. She also says her prayers every night.
It’s hard to argue with success, much less a voice, presumably God’s or Jesus’ saying, “Well done,” so why even try? Here is an analogy. Confronting a villain in a dream is a little like the warning light going on in your car and taking it in to the shop. The mechanic lifts the hood, takes out a pair of pliers, and cuts the wires to the red light. He slams the hood, smiles, and says, “Fixed!” So what’s the problem? The problem is that the red light won’t go on any more. The red light was a warning light! This concerned mother made no effort to listen to the villain, the “warning light,” in her daughter’s dream. Instead she taught her daughter to just stand up to warning lights. Standing up to warning lights may make them go away, but is that smart? That’s like turning them off or cutting them off. Is doing so an expression of genuine confidence? The most likely source of such a nightmare is sexual abuse. This mother was confident that was not the issue, but she took no steps to find out. Was she afraid of what she might learn?
Integral Deep Listening teaches that genuine confidence is a willingness to hear what you may not want to hear: bad news, disagreement, complications, confusions. Once you have listened to what a wakeup call has to say, you are better prepared to take appropriate action. Maybe the confident thing to do is to stand up to a dream antagonist, but interviews consistently demonstrate that antagonists are attempting to wake you up. When you listen to them, they tend to go away on their own.
If you want to live your dreams, if you want to make a difference in the world, you must have confidence in yourself. It’s not an option. The challenge is to develop genuine confidence instead of the phony, superficial confidence of a four-year old or of politicians and military “heroes.” The challenge is to develop a healthy ability to take calculated risks without overwhelming the council of the other five core qualities. To do so, confidence requires the development of the other five qualities, just as the other five are severely limited if you lack confidence. Integral Deep Listening works to develop confidence by accessing recommendations of interviewed emerging potentials, many of whom score higher in the six core qualities than you do. When you follow their recommendations, your life tends to get better. The result is that you learn to trust yourself and depend more on the priorities of your inner compass. This develops a type of confidence that is not based on a particular narrow skill set, sparkling personality, looks, status, or power. It is not a compensation for some insecurity or fear. It is a confidence that is not afraid of failure and so appraises risks in a more realistic way.
If you want to live your dreams, if you want to make a difference in the world, you must develop not only love and empathy, but compassion. It’s not an option. Otherwise your love may be exclusive or limited to those who live where you do, and look, dress, think, and believe as you do. This is phony, exclusive love that we can easily see in others but have a much more difficult time seeing in ourselves. You can have all the core qualities, but if you are missing compassion you are probably missing empathy. If you can’t read the hearts of others well, you will spend your life talking to yourself about yourself; you won’t connect with others. Imagine a wise, accepting, objective, confident mother who also has inner peace but who lacks empathy and therefore compassion. She will do many things that may look empathetic and compassionate, but so do those with narcissistic personality disorders, who learn to pick up on cues to better charm and manipulate their victims. Without compassion, that mother is going to attempt to convince her children that what she needs and wants is that they need and want. She will say, “You’re not angry, you’re tired” or, “You want to be helpful, don’t you?” “I’m only punishing you because I love you so much!” She will no doubt consider herself caring, loving, empathetic and compassionate. In her own mind she will do everything “for the good of the children” when she is avoiding her own fears or seeking the approval of others.
Such people are well-intentioned, and are loving in their own way, but are neither empathetic nor compassionate. This is the problem with making love the answer; there are different levels of love and there are different important core qualities. Without the other core values you can literally justify murder as a loving act, as did the Spanish Inquisition and Christianity does with its “Just War Doctrine.” Like Barak Obama, it is possible to speak from your heart about equality, employment, and human rights while favoring the financial community, doing little to alleviate unemployment, murdering civilians with drones, and torturing whistleblowers before putting them in jail for life.
Learning genuine compassion is not easy, because it has to be separated from socially and culturally scripted phony compassion. Integral Deep Listening interviews many emerging potentials that score zero in compassion but high in the other five core qualities in order to teach this important distinction. Such scores generally reveal perspectives that value life itself over human based caring, just as the sun giving its light and warmth regardless of the consequences. This is why compassion transcends yet includes empathy; when you take on the perspective of the sun you will see that it understands very well the damage that can be done from too much light or too much warmth, yet does not let those concerns cause it to condition its outflow of abundance. Such compassion is often misperceived as insensitive, when its detachment is the source of all life. Without it, there would be no compassion.
You can have all the core qualities, but if you are missing wisdom you remain ignorant. Imagine a confident, compassionate, accepting adolescent who has cultivated objectivity and is also at peace. This is a well-adjusted, very bright young scientist, mathematician, or musician who simply doesn’t have a connection with her inner compass, and so she lacks the wisdom of its perspectives and its priorities for her life. Without wisdom, that teenager is going to make decisions that she firmly believes are in her own best interest when they are not. She may be fulfilling the expectations of her parents or her community instead of following her own truth. Because she is out of touch with her inner compass she may spend time in relationships that she is convinced are beneficial when they lead to nowhere or worse, misery. She may spend years of her life wandering around, trying to find herself, and mostly finding who she is not.
Buddhism and Hinduism teach the primacy of wisdom, just as Christianity teaches the primacy of love. This is because they diagnose the basic problem of mankind not as a falling away from God, but as ignorance, avidya. The consequence of this belief system is an emphasis on rationality, philosophy, objectivity, and personal education instead of belief, faith, passion, and relationships. Another consequence is that near death experiences are framed as encounters with the clear light, dharma kaya, instead of with universal love. Which approach is more accurate? Neither, or both, since what you experience is going to based on the values that you hold; if you build your life around love, that is most likely what will be mirrored back to you, or a lack of it. If you build your life around wisdom, that is what is going to be reflected, or a lack of it.
The point is that these values complement one another; one is superior to the other in certain circumstances and is inferior to the other elsewhere. Wisdom is generally believed to be a product of experience, but this is only a partial explanation. Wisdom also comes from learning from the mistakes of others; when you do so, you do not have to waste precious years racking up all kinds of experiences to become wise. Wisdom is also an interior knowingness, a life flow associated with being in the right place at the right time, saying and doing that which works, which awakens yourself and others in a transformative way. Unfortunately, few societal institutions teach wisdom and few cultural models of wisdom exist. Consequently, it is easily and naively associated with intelligence, experience, and good luck.
Genuine wisdom is associated with perspectives that contain healthy doses of all five of the other core values. Ignorance doesn’t recognize the importance of these values or values some of them over others. While different values take the lead based on the circumstances, all need to be both strong and present to bring balance. This balance is a core process that both generates and is a marker of wisdom. Integral Deep Listening teaches wisdom by accessing perspectives that reflect the priorities of your inner compass. You are encouraged not to take this on faith but to test its truth in your own life. This is easy to do by following the Integral Deep Listening Dream and Life Issue Interviewing Protocols. When you do, you are likely to hear and experience what is, for you, undeniably wise.
Many people confuse acceptance with apathy or detachment. This is because acceptance can look and sound passive. However, these are misconceptions about acceptance, which is an active, alive space, made more so by the absence of filtering through preferences or the focus created by this or that preference. Acceptance is an open-focused involvement made possible precisely because of its lack of investment in any particular preference. It is a grasping of the full range of possibilities that all preferences represent, which means that the world comes alive with a riot of genuine preferences instead of locked into the narrow channel of one strong preference to the exclusion of all others.
To understand this definition of acceptance you first need to understand the pervasive influence of your preferences. They drive everything you think, feel, and do, awake and dreaming. When you think you are a free actor you are making choices that are governed by the demands of your routine, habitual patterns of preference. In a very real sense, your preferences are tyrants. Most of the time they are benign tyrants, but tyrants nonetheless, in that they are not subject to any higher law. Nothing controls your preferences. You do not control your preferences; your preferences control you.
You probably doubt this statement, such is the power of the delusion of self-control. I invite you to doubt it. Think of an example of a decision that you have made that you are sure was autonomous and not an expression of your preferences. You probably will pick an experience in which you did something you did not want to do, like pay a bill, go on a diet, take a test, stand up to a boss or partner, or get up when you wanted to sleep. What you have done is pick an instance in which you had conflicting preferences that were strong; you are pleased with the preference you picked, because it may not have been so strong, but it was good or right or healthy. If this conflict did not exist between your preferences, you would not have had to make a choice. The conflict between your preferences forced you to make a choice. You do not control your preferences; your preferences control you.
You can have all the core qualities, but if you are missing acceptance you remain at the mercy of your preferences. There is nothing wrong with preferences, but there is definitely something wrong with allowing them to decide what you feel, think, or do, because your reality will be conditioned and limited by your preferences. Imagine a PhD in economics who prefers a supply-side, trickle down, austerian version of economic reality. What sort of evidence will he see in the economic data? What sort of evidence will he ignore? What sort of papers will he write? On a more mundane level, love and romance are generally driven by preferences. They are all about what you like and what you don’t like.
Preferences are not avoidable, anymore than weather or the government are avoidable, nor are they your enemies. Whether the weather or government support you depends entirely on your relationship to them; it is the same with your preferences. I started understanding this in 1981, when I was thirty-one, and I first developed Dream Sociometry. Dream Sociometry is based on the sociometric methodology devised in the 1920’s by psychiatrist J.L. Moreno, a younger contemporary of Freud’s. It measures the preferences of social groups and charts the relationships among those patterns of preference in order to organize groups for better functioning. Dream Sociometry measures the preferences of intrasocial groups, that is, the preferences of the various characters in your dreams, and charts the relationships among those patterns of preference to understand and support patterns of increased integration among various perspectives represented in dreams as characters. Dream Sociograms of hundreds of dreams over several years made obvious many patterns of autonomous preference co-existing within me, each representing a unique legitimate perspective. Some of these perspectives had fewer strong preferences and they tended to be more accepting of me than I was of myself. However, the perspectives which were most accepting were those who had no preferences at all, including the preference, “don’t care.” These highly accepting perspectives saw and understood all involved preferences, but had none themselves. Consequently, perspectives with no preferences transcended and included all observed preferences. This gave me repeated experiences of genuine acceptance. I hadn’t recognized it before, and I did not have it toward myself or others. Understanding it and learning to appreciate it was transformative for me; I began to look at acceptance in an entirely different way.
Many organizations generate a public persona of acceptance because this attracts patrons, new members, customers, or victims. However, when you investigate an organization or become a member or follower of one you are likely to find that it is exclusionary in one way or another. The same pattern holds for idealized, romantic love. When you first fall in love you may feel completely accepted. As time goes on and you settle into the relationship, you may discover that acceptance is conditional and exclusionary; there are parts of yourself that you thought were accepted that aren’t. Love and romance can occur in the context of acceptance. Your preferences are present but they do not determine your choices. Instead, acceptance, in conjunction with the other five core qualities, direct your decision making. Acceptance notes all preferences, like, liking a lot, loving, not caring, disliking, disliking a lot, and hatred. It takes them all into account. When this is done, you are open to allowing things to unfold, for relationships to be what they are. The result is not the absence of preferences, but their presence within a broader context that generates room for growth.
This sort of acceptance is every bit as important as wisdom, inner peace, witnessing, confidence, and compassion. Just as reality can be reduced to love or wisdom, it can be reduced to acceptance. There are times and situations when it is wise to do so, because love based on preferences is a caricature of itself; wisdom without acceptance is shallow; inner peace without acceptance is phony; objectivity without acceptance is disguised intolerance; confidence without acceptance is shallow, because it is a fear-based insecurity; and compassion without acceptance is judgmental rescuing.
Imagine an objective, confident, compassionate, accepting, and wise professional, like a talented scientist, school administrator, or doctor, who everybody likes and admires, but who knows they lack inner peace. This description applies to many successful and productive people in our world today. Perhaps it is because they are so goal-oriented that they do not feel centered; perhaps it is because they have spent so much time and energy becoming effective that they have mistaken an effective persona for wholeness. Without inner peace such a person may make great contributions to the world; they may be well-loved, admired, and respected, but their ability to build on this acclaim will be limited by the absence of a calm, clear center. They may be very loving people; if you stop and think about people in your life who were very loving, did all of them have inner peace? Can you see that there is no necessary correlation between being loving and having inner peace? You can have all the core qualities but if you are missing inner peace you will remain stressed, incomplete, out of balance, and falling short of your potential. At some point, personal goals and societal validation will not be enough, because these things are not the point of life, but important tools for the awakening of life to itself. Without inner peace a successful person is less likely to listen to and amplify the priorities of their emerging potentials, thereby growing into an expression of their own unique inner compass.
Inner peace is, paradoxically, something that needs to be defended. This is because the majority of both internal and external forces that impinge upon you have other priorities besides inner peace. Like work and most children, they may desire your attention and not care at all whether you have inner peace or not, as long as they get your attention. The result is that, while most everyone will say they desire inner peace, most people give it away because they feel they have to in order to keep their job or to be a “good parent.” They demote inner peace; it does not serve as a major priority in their lives. The consequence is that many, perhaps most, live their lives without much inner peace, wishing they had more. For myself, there came a point where it became clear that I could have inner peace with or without health, wealth, or love, but having health, wealth, or love did not guarantee inner peace. Observations of the lives of healthy, wealthy, and loving people generally supported this conclusion. I also recognized that as a “people pleaser,” I was constantly sacrificing my goals and inner peace in order to make others comfortable, by making myself feel good by helping others, and by being the one that compromised. Then I wondered why I didn’t feel peace and why I sometimes ended up feeling taken advantage of. I was playing the role of rescuer in the Drama Triangle and didn’t realize it!
The problem was not that other people were taking advantage of me; it was that I was not being honest about my priorities and standing up for them. For example. I am an early riser; my wife Claudia is not. I like to go exercise early; she does not. However, I also like to go to the gym with her and support her by going together. The result is that I exercise less frequently than I otherwise would, because as a day wears on things tend to get busier; gym sometimes gets crowded out. Taking care of myself and going to the gym early increases my sense of inner peace, among other things, yet I tend to stop myself, as if I should wait and do it with Claudia. Crazy, huh? If you do not assert what brings you inner peace, don’t blame others or the world if you don’t have it. You will tend to devolve down to the level of inner peace of your environment instead of inspiring those around you to seek their own inner peace as you do.
Make an inventory of things that bring you inner peace independently of the preferences of others and independently of you being in some particular place. For example, some of the things that are guaranteed sources of inner peace for me include goal setting, meditation, exercise, staying out of Drama, avoiding cognitive distortions, and doing Integral Deep Listening interviews with myself and others. If you want more inner peace, do what you can to get those things on your own list that bring you inner peace more into your daily life.
You can have all the core qualities, but if you lack the ability to witness you are mired in the subjectivity of your emotions, your rationality, and your perspectives. Imagine a confident, compassionate, wise, accepting six year old who is also at peace within herself. Without witnessing, that six year old is not going to be able to objectify her emotions; she will think she is her emotions; they will define her, causing misery and suffering. Without witnessing, that six year old will not outgrow the concrete ways of thinking that prevent tolerance of ambiguity or logical reasoning. Without witnessing, she will stay stuck in the naivete of the natural perspective of a six year old. This is the pathology of True Believers, whether religious, political, or scientific. They may possess all five other core qualities in abundance. What True Believers collectively lack is the objectivity to see that their commitment to one perspective destroys their credibility for all, except other believers, and the naively pre-rational, who have not yet developed objectivity.
Development itself can be viewed as a process of the successive objectification of levels of organization of experience. First, we separate ourselves from our bodies and become and emotional self that has a body; then we become a concrete thinking self that objectifies both emotions and the physical self. Notice that some people never reach this degree of objectivity; they continue to think they are their feelings their entire lives. Without learning to witness your emotions you will be a victim of your preferences. Your happiness will be determined by getting what your want and avoiding what you don’t want. You will be unhappy when you get what you don’t want and cannot avoid what you don’t want. Since this happens in life, you will be choosing to be unhappy much of your life. Learning to witness your emotions is why Integral Deep Listening teaches identification of both the Drama Triangle and cognitive distortions in your life.
Next, people learn to objectify their thoughts, or to identify which ones are rational and logical and which ones aren’t. This is important, because you can witness your emotions and still not be rational, as do people who do not believe in global warming or human rights. Many of the well-educated corporate elite also fall into this category, mostly because they have a huge vested interest in profit, power, and status that overrules rational decision making. The problem with learning to think rationally is that it creates cognitive dissonance. You may end up having to change your life to like yourself. Notice that even fewer people reach this level of witnessing.
Next, people learn to witnessing thinking, or all contents of their awareness. This is a very rare level of objectivity; few attain it. It doesn’t matter what you are thinking about; you are learning to witness whatever comes into your awareness. The reason this is important is because if you don’t you will think you are your thoughts. They will define who you are and control your life. You will die thinking you are because you think, like Descartes believed. You will never discover that there is awareness that is differentiated from thinking, and what it is like unless you learn to witness the contents of your awareness. Until you do, you will continue to be addicted to your thoughts; they will control you and define not only who you are, but who you can become. This will severely limit your possibilities. Integral Deep Listening teaches witnessing all contents of your awareness through exercises that teach the naming of thoughts and the observation of breath.
The next level of the development of witnessing is called “perspectival objectivity,” which is the ability to see that your sense of self, of who you are, is associated with perspectives that you take, and that when you take other perspectives you can witness your entire identity, including that self that is aware of the contents of your mind. These are the perspectives that your thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and sense of self inhabit. Your perspectives create the contexts that define not only what you are but what is possible and impossible. When you learn to witness the perspectives you identify with “you,” you thin out your sense of who you are; it becomes more transparent, because you are no so strongly identified with those ways of looking at yourself, others, and life. Eventually you develop the ability to witness all perspectives, which gives you the ability to inhabit whichever ones you want without allowing them to define you. This is what makes Integral Deep Listening a multiperspectival psychospiritual yoga; by identifying continuously with a multitude of relatively autonomous and authentic perspectives you slowly learn to witness all perspectives. The advantages of this is that none of them define you or limit you in the ways they did before. You are still bound by the constraints of the perspectives you take, but they have lost their reality and so are no longer a threat to your sense of self. This is an extremely rare degree of witnessing, but anyone can learn it. To do so you must first recognize that such a degree of objectivity exists. You must then have a strategy or methodology for doing developing this skill, in addition to wanting to do so.
Witnessing, or objectivity, is hardly the most important of the six core qualities. To believe that it is makes the mistake of science, which splits the world into the observable real, on the one hand, and the unobservable, which is either unknown, or pre-rational superstition, magic, or delusion, on the other. It is also the mistake of many meditative traditions, which often teach the value of witnessing above and before the other core values. If you deny objectivity, in the name of belief or loyalty, as partners, parents, employees, and the powerful routinely do, you are curtailing your own development. The challenge is to cultivate objectivity without thereby subordinating inner peace, acceptance, wisdom, compassion, or confidence. Integral Deep Listening interviewing addresses this goal by teaching identification with perspectives that personify all six core qualities.
Most people favor one or two of these six core qualities. Which ones do you prefer? Healthy development involves the balancing of all six of them. Sometimes one needs emphasis, sometimes another. Integral Deep Listening interviewing routinely discloses the perspectives which you need to compensate those which you are using. This not only gets you unstuck; it balances the six core qualities so that you have a developmental foundation that is broad enough to support your evolution into your next stage. In this way you do not have to spend your life seeking temporary, transitional state openings; instead you can grow up and out as you advance from one developmental stage to the next.