Integration: August 2012

As I was thinking about my new blog, an idea popped into my mind, an idea that was simple but useful.  I realized that I should synthesize each month’s postings into a coherent and integral format.  What this means is that each month I will share an “integration” posting that will unite the hidden puns, meanings, and ideas of that particular month’s postings.  This is to offer the perspective that holistic and embodied living is not divorced or separated from other aspects of our lives regardless of our attempts to compartmentalize, segregate, and analyze its parts. 

Therefore, the recent post “Blinded by Vagueness…” is provocative, but more importantly I hope it will push a few of our emotional buttons.  Yet, each blog post this month (and July 30th) has been centered on a specific theme; the theme of assumptions and generalities.  “Blinded by Vagueness…” was specifically designed as an asynchronous coaching framework in order to question our basic beliefs and assumptions about ourselves, our relationships, our goals, and spiritual beliefs.  By questioning our beliefs, assumptions, expectations, values, attitudes, rules, and needs offers the opportunity to see life through fresh eyes, or to see old and familiar things in new ways, or to recommit ourselves within the relationships we find ourselves in–even the relationship to our self.  The particular action step and metaphor is that we are blind until we actually become clear within ourselves as to what we believe and why.

The other example of “Shared Meaning” offered the action step of paying closer attention and being more mindfully present in our everyday communications, especially in our significant relationships.  Thus, by virtue of not paying close attention we often make general assumptions from the limited information we pay attention to, which can then hinder our relationships from being more fruitful and fulfilling.  Similarly, the example of “The Potential Tyranny of Generalities” spoke of the needed behavioral change, “from” making assumptions about other people “to” gaining more clarity about the situation or person, and how our mini-theories often lack a full perspective.  The hidden pun in this post is found in the title, because in terms of talking about the “potential” tyranny of generalities I was immediately referencing that “potential” is a generality.  When we realistically examine the complexity of life, in truth there are no easy answers if we take the significant amount of variables of life into context.  These variables range from (a) biological—the myriad internal processes, (b) environmental, (c) cognition, (d) affect, (e) life experiences, (f) family history, (g) socio-economic status, (h) religion, (i) gender, (j) age—life stage, (k) motivational, (l) situational context, (m) geographic location, (n) worldview, (o) behavioral patterns, (p) values, beliefs, attitudes, needs, and expectations, etc.  All of these variables serve as points of consideration when seeking to speak about (1) changing our behavior, (2) listening carefully, (3) reducing our biases and stereotypes about other people, and (4) gaining clarity about “who we are” and “what our life mission is.”

At times it is useful to speak about generalities, and this is a common tactic used in negotiations – especially to gain agreement.  There are times when specificity can be redundant, and it hinders instead of helping.  However, generalities are the primary source material of prejudice and stereotyping.  Therefore, in recapitulation – “Blinded by Vagueness…” urged a change and clarification of “personal” assumptions, “Shared Meaning” urged a change in our “listening” assumptions, and “The Potential Tyranny of Generalities” urged a change in our “relational” assumptions about others.  The examination of personal, relational and the interface between these two which is listening and communication are significant areas that can bring each of us more fulfillment from life, because our mindful engagement urges us to live with presence, peace, and force.