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Lawrence Wollersheim is the Executive Director of Integrative Spirituality. He brings an extensive 30-year background in day-to-day technology and business operations across profit and non-profit sectors to his work at IS. Comments on the essay below are deeply appreciated and can be sent to: manage@IntegrativeSpirituality.org .
Integrative Relationship Meditation
How to Experience a New, Integral and (R)evolutionary Form of Integrative Relationship Meditation in Just Minutes!
There really is something (r)evolutionary under the meditation sun. It is called Integrative Relationship Meditation (IRM.) It can be used in same denomination or mixed denomination groups of meditators. Because some things are just “too good not to share” and our non profit organization forwards open source integral spirituality please find below our first release of "How to do Integrative Relationship Meditation."
(This is another in our series of articles designed to take the principles of open source integral spirituality and make them practically useful for the real issues and needs of an authentic spiritual life.)
What is Integrative Relationship Meditation
Integrative Relationship Meditation is a new and sequenced form of very short integral meditations derived from the core of eastern and western spiritual and mystical traditions. These meditation sessions integrate different meditation styles such as Zen, Christian, Sufi, Buddhist, and mystical, with creative modern forms of meditation using guided visualization, affirmations, and even inspirational ideals or quotes.
Integrative Relationship Meditation is easy enough to be done by individuals who have never meditated before. It is also exciting and effective enough to demonstrate to long term meditators a positive new surge in their meditation experience and growth.
Each meditation session section is initiated with 2-3 minutes of simple instruction by an individual familiar with the procedures. This brief instruction is done so that everyone will feel comfortable with any new meditation practices that they might not already now.
Each relationship meditation session usually consists of five sequenced 5 -8 minute mini-meditations. The five integrative relationship meditation styles are performed in a specific sequence because each prior meditation helps build toward the creation of a unique relationship-focused, meta-spiritual experience.
In most of these relationship focused, integral meditation experiences the individual connects first with their own highest and most authentic self and then simultaneously connects in their most favorite way to the Great Unity and Great Mystery that includes and interconnects us all. Then finally the individual connects with others at deep, authentic levels of pure Essence. It is a unique “I, we, it” meditation that connects the subjective, objective and intersubjective.
This deep triune connection naturally facilitates a unique, mystical-like relationship experience in individual, group, and Consciousness/Divinity intimacy and interconnection. Many individuals who experience this new form of meditation for the first time want this empowered relationship experience to last longer.
At the end of all five sequenced mini-meditations there is a period of open socialization. This open socialization time is vital and necessary for individuals to debrief on their new meditation experiences. The socialization time also helps take advantage of the special relationship awareness, openness and powerful intimate connections created in the earlier sequenced meditations.
General Tips on the Integrative Relationship Meditation Process
1.) The following Integrative Relationship Meditations steps are best done in the given sequence, but you can do any one of the steps by itself any time you wish as a powerful mini-meditation. For example, members of our organization often do just step 4 below before beginning a work project together. Doing so appears to have increased creativity, productivity, and the connection/fun factor in doing our work.
2.) These meditations and meditation steps work best when you apply and adapt them from your own highest spiritual wisdom and favorite spiritual experiences. Most of our Integrative Relationship Meditations contain a mixed group of individuals from many denominations. Each denomination has wording, images, icons, and processes that can and should be either adapted or used directly when doing the steps below. We encourage all meditation attendees to use what they already know or that has worked well for them (wording, images, icons and processes) in the past while doing our new relationship meditations.
3.) Integrative Relationship Meditation has intentionally been designed to be short so that you get in, get out, and you have little time to waste or to fool around “in your head.” Many people have no problem completing the meditations on their first try. Some require a few times to finish all the parts of some of the longer steps below.
Do not worry if you do not get all the way through the parts of any step below. Meditation is not a competitive sport. You will get as far as you get and that distance is exactly what is perfect for you.
4.) Many amazing thoughts feeling and sensations are possible while you are doing these steps. We recommend that you do not talk about them with others while doing the steps. At the end of the full process you will have a few minutes of silence to recall and hold all of the positive things that you have experienced. You also have an important socialization time at the end of the full meditation steps to debrief and share anything you like with anyone or everyone you like.
5.) You will need a timekeeper and facilitator for the group who explains the steps of each meditation at the beginning of each meditation for both the new people and even regulars. They also start each meditation and gently bring the group back to the next meditation when the time is up on the previous meditation.
Bringing people back gently and not suddenly is vital as these are powerful connection relationship experiences. You do not want to suddenly jar anyone too quickly or abruptly into the next meditation. Allow mediators to finish off just where they are, slowly open their eyes and then wiggle a bit into alertness for the next step.
The Fives Steps of the Integrative Relationship Meditation Process
Step 1: Centering in Highest Self and the Present.
Time 4-6 minutes
This is a passive or “quality of being” meditation. It has two parts.
In part one you first experience yourself and drop into your sense of your most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul. Part two entails that while holding your most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul, you come to the fullest possible awareness of your present environment of which you are capable. Be aware of the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, sensations, etc. of the present moment without any judgment or evaluative thoughts about what you are experiencing. Just be there in your highest sense of essential self. Continue to be and be aware of the present until the 4-6 minutes is over.
Step 2: Active Connection of Highest Self to the Great Unity and Mystery that interconnects us all.
Time 5-8 Minutes
This is an active relationship connection meditation. It has 5 parts.
i.) In part 1 of step 2 you first experience yourself and drop into your sense of your most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul. You connect with yourself!
ii) Part 2 of step 2 requires that while holding your most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul, you simultaneously connect to your favorite or best sense or understanding of an aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery that interconnects us all. No matter what your denomination or spiritual background just connect to that state, aspect, or totality in your own words, icons, and images that most resonates with you.
In the beginning for your learning ease and success with this new form of meditation it is very important to pick your favorite or best sense and understanding of an aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery. After you have done this a few times you will find that you will be able to do this step with any aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery.
Remember you may also use any term, image or concept that especially speaks to you even if it is not on the list below. Here are just a few of the terms in both eastern and western spiritual traditions used for the impersonal, personal, evolutionary, and consciousness names of the Great Unity and Mystery that unites all:
Connection has many levels. The simplest initial way that you can connect to the Great Unity and Mystery is through your attention. Start by just putting your attention on your favorite or best sense and understanding of an aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery and you are in the first level of mystical connection.
iii.) Part 3 of step 2 is where you connect by actively thinking about what you know about your favorite/best sense and understanding of an aspect or state of that Great Unity and Mystery. No matter what your denomination or spiritual background it is likely a lot has been written about your favorite/best sense and understanding of an aspect or state of that Great Unity and Mystery. Actively think about that descriptive material and deepen the level of mystical connection.
iv.) Part 4 of step 2 is where you open your heart and connect in your own favorite ways to your favorite/best sense and understanding of an aspect or state or even the totality of that Great Unity and Mystery. The heart has many ways to connect. Flowing out respect, admiration, love, gratitude, and even adoration or worship in some denominations are great ways to connect through your heart. Always first select the heart connection styles and ways that most resonate with your spiritual wisdom, or experience or, current denomination when beginning to do this part.
v.) Part 5 of step 2 is where you are already connected through your mind's attention and thought as well as your heart to the Great Unity and Mystery. Now you be or imagine being that particular favorite or best aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery. Actually feel what it feels like in that state as best as you can or can imagine. Actually see with and from the eye of the mind or imagination --- that particular aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery. From that state look at yourself, others and/or the physical universe, or anything you would like from that unique and broad perspective.
Step 3: Passive Connection of the Great Unity and Mystery that interconnects us all with Highest Self.
Time 2-4 Minutes
This is a passive meditation allowing the “flow” to be reversed. In different traditions this meditation has been called waiting upon grace or waiting for inspiration or guidance for one's life.
You have just spent the last active meditation in Step 2 connecting and flowing out attention and heart feelings to the Great Unity and Mystery. Now you will help create an opportunity and space for the Great Unity and Mystery to connect and flow out to you.
This is a paradoxical meditation in that all you need to do is be open and receptive and doing nothing else. It is a meditation where doing nothing and all will be done is best. Something will outflow to you and happen if it is supposed to happen. If you have abundant expectancy, but no expectations you will have the right attitude of receptivity.
Remember whatever happens, happens. Nothing may happen or something amazing may happen as this is not fully under your control. Just quietly let go, be receptive, and be open in your posture, mind and heart and whatever will emerge guidance, intuition, feelings new realizations etc--- will emerge.
Step 4: The Active Integral Meditation of Connection of Highest Self, to the Great Unity and Mystery and then to the Highest Self of Each other person in the Meditation.
Time 6-8 Minutes.
(Do not worry if you do not get through all of the steps in the time allotted.)
i.) Part 1 of step 4 requires that while first holding your most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul you once again simultaneously connect to your favorite or best sense and understanding of an aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery that interconnects us all.
ii.) Part 2 of step 4 still holds both things that you are doing in part 1 of step 4 and then adds connecting to the most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul of each other person in the meditation group one person at a time. This can be done in many ways.
You can imagine or just “connect” mentally and/or with your heart to whatever you experience as the most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul of that individual. Keep in your awareness and heart while you are connecting to them that they are also simultaneously holding their own highest essence while connecting to their favorite aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery, and they are also connecting to the Highest self of someone else in the group.
When you “meet” each person in this profound and deep way many positive and unique experiences can emerge. Some individuals experience each other as a single word, ideal, or phrase. Some individuals experience each other as an image or metaphor. Some individuals experience each other as unique and/or similar to their own highest concepts of the most essential, authentic and highest self, spirit, or soul. Each of us is different so those experiences of meeting another at essence will be different as well.
We recommend that you do this connecting to another initially without touching. You can do it with your eyes open slightly as you go from person to person. You can also do it with your eyes closed depending upon what works best for you.
iii.) Part 3 of step 4 the final step occurs when you have connected to and “met” one by one the highest self of everyone else in the group. In this step if you still have time left, reach out mentally and/or with your heart to connect and meet everyone simultaneously at their highest self level while they are also holding their favorite aspect or state of the Great Unity and Mystery.
Let yourself do or imagine this final step with whatever interconnecting and flowing images or metaphors are most comfortable to you. In our meditations in San Francisco, the image of an umbrella of energy connecting all of us as well as the Great Mystery is often used.
Parts 1 and 2 of the meditation in Step 4 are very powerful. They can be done very quickly when you have practiced them a bit. Some people can get to this awareness holding, connecting state in less than 1 minute. This triune integral awareness holding is an amazing way to make almost any situation involving creativity or conflict work better.
We recommend that you try the practice of just parts 1 and 2 of the meditation in Step 4 many times each day when encountering situations involving other people and see for yourself what happens. For many holding of this triune awareness especially in conflicts has opened up completely new solutions that were impossible and invisible until this practical living awareness was activated.
Step 5: Gazing into the Eyes of One Other Person.
Time 4-5 Minutes
In this meditation you will first connect to your highest Self then connect to the Great Unity and Mystery and then to the Highest Self of one other person while gazing directly into their eyes. This can be quite powerful. If you like, blink when needed and close your eyes for a bit if that is needed for a while as well.
Ending the Meditation
When you have completed the last meditation step it is time for the group meditation facilitator to call everyone to several minutes of silent review of what each participant liked or experienced. This is an important review step as many unique changes and new experiences are possible during this meditation sequence.
After this, the facilitator can allow another minute or so for prayers or positive thoughts for individuals who need them and are not there. This extra time can also be used to allow the participants to make new decisions or renew old decisions that are important to them. The sequenced meditations have gradually created a powerful and positive state of awareness where positive thought for others and making decisions are significantly empowered beyond our day-to-day average awareness.
When these activities are done the facilitator then opens the socialization time. At our Center we serve tea and crackers and allow individuals to congregate and connect as they so wish. Sometimes one large group forms and there is group sharing of what was experienced or even questions. Sometimes small groups debrief and share with each other any way they so desire. Sometime attendees communicate about everything but the meditations with a wonderful glow that is the result of such intimate and soulful sharing and connection during the meditation steps. It does not matter where people go. Just socializing after these meditations facilitates new ways of being with each other that most people love.
Why these Meditations Work, Connection and Transformation
Mystics and saints from both eastern and western traditions have said that when one makes and holds the triune and integral connection to the highest essence of themselves, the highest essence of another and the Highest Essence that which interconnects all things (the Great Unity and Mystery,) either separately or together good things usually happen. Because of this integral and practical spiritual connectedness transformation of a situation or individual is possible at a significantly greater rate than is common in normal day to day awareness. In fact, just one level by itself (of the three named levels of triune relationship connection) is capable of producing great transformation!
Of all the connections, the connection between the individual or individuals with the Great Unity and Mystery has the greatest individual transformational potentials. This is because the individual is open and by their free will act of connecting has decided to “ask for” or allow transformation to grace them. When transformational connection (grace, chi, prana etc. ) flows from the Great Unity and Mystery to the individual or individuals what things are not improved and possible?
The Integral Nature of the Process Used in Integrative Relationship Meditation
Integrative Relationship Meditation was designed to incorporate integral philosophy and integral spirituality principles into its design in practical ways. Some of those integral principles that we incorporate in our work are:
1.) Providing a deeper and broader map of the evolution of known spiritual reality that embraces an inclusive, multiple perspective way of looking at and understanding the evolution of spiritual development and its processes.
2.) Excluding nothing essential needed for balanced understanding and/or growth and wholeness in the area of spirituality.
3.) Including, transcending and synthesizing. We strive toward including the most useful perspectives and values from all previous spiritual traditions where contextually appropriate, while simultaneously pruning away contextually inappropriate spiritual perspectives and values.
4.) Uniting all things in a coherent and structured matrix of relationship. We strive to have our meditations and spiritual processes combine inner (subjective), outer (objective,) and the inter-subjective (relational) perspectives on any phenomena, whether singular or collective.
5.) Embracing new forms of non-pathological, integral personal spirituality that is congenial to science, philosophy and art and, more spiritually universal in its perspectives.
6.) Anticipating what more appropriate spiritual solution or process comes next in the unfolding of the evolutionary process. These new spiritual processes and solutions are shifted away from polarizing and marginalizing, right or wrong, either/or, left or right partial systems or choices toward more inclusive, comprehensive both/and systems and solutions. That's because integral solutions embrace the entire evolutionary developmental spectrum of the spiritual life of all humanity, allowing the lessons of previously exclusive and competitive spiritual traditions be systematically meshed, layered and harmoniously integrated to serve the spiritual well-being of the whole evolutionary spiral of life at this time.
Why are these Relationship Meditations Important to your Daily Life?
(This is in addition to what has been said above.)
1.) They help renew and release vast untapped personal growth and transformational potentials by dramatically expanding who or what you conceive of self, other, nature, culture, relationship and the ALL to be.
2.) They help heal and re-balance the fragmentation, isolation and subtle cynicism that frequently results from 21st century living by creating a new practical spiritualized holism as well as a revitalized sense of meaning and achievable purpose.
3.) They help you create and find more effective and life-affirming perspectives and solutions for every challenge or dream you have. Equipped with its new perspectives and spiritualized information you now can more wisely participate in co-evolving any area of your own life and future.
Please feel free to share this new Integrative Relationship Meditation form with anyone you like. When you do we would appreciate it if you would mention where it came from as we will be updating this description and also releasing more relationship meditations as they are synthesized from the great spiritual wisdom traditions of the east and west. Please also feel free to send us your comments, experiments and suggestions for improvements or additions to these Integrative Relationship Meditation processes to email@example.com . We are a co-creative, open source spirituality and believe that great wisdom and balance is achievable though engaged community.