Tapping into the Integral Field: On Grief and Love

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[Editor's Note: Chris] This piece is a response to yesterday's essay by Tim Winton on the development of more relational forms of integral theory and practice and the use of patterns in nature to design better integral organizations.


I love Tim’s piece, especially the frames and the sense of emergence that I feel speaks through his works. This addendum is a way of further exploring how broader integral shared spaces might allow the fullness of the process to demonstrate itself as Tim suggests in his conclusion.

griefIn my reflections and in speaking with my friends, I have uncovered an "aha" regarding my current emotional experience of integral since my involvement beginning in 2006. My aha initially arose as I sat in a reflective space within what I call the "integral field". This place of awareness feels collective, and I have come to believe that the stirrings and images from that place are more than my own individual thoughts and feelings, though I can also understand why I might feel them. On this particular "sitting', the emotion that stirred was one of grief. Grief is a common emotion in my own life history, as people passed on in my life from an early life. Yet I was pretty clear that this grief was connected to my present experience of the field of integral.

The way I often contact emotions within is through an image, and so I would like to share with you a little of the image that came to me in that moment of repose and reflection. My intention in sharing this is to offer a voice in this conversation about emerging new steps for the integral field. It is a message that I find both has both deeply resonated with those I have shared it with, and also is something less spoken about. My concern is that we may need to address this grief (if my heart intuition is correct) and even embrace it as a way of freeing up space in our collective and individual spaces. This I feel will allow us to at least have more emotional freedom to choose how we want to engage with the integral field. I have at least found this to be true for myself.

geodeReturning to my reflective space, the image that came was one of a hard shell, like that of an old stone. The feeling sense of it's exterior is one of crustiness. Familiar feelings of resentments surfaced. Unfortunately it is not difficult to locate resentments in the integral field, and I found this was also true when I spoke with my friends. When promises are made and enthusiastic minds and hearts make investments towards those promises, and when expectations aren't met and it seems that promises aren't fulfilled, anger and frustration can surface. If there is no apparent place to voice those and address them within the community, the anger and frustration can turn to resentment. When that anger and even rage is address inwardly, however, in my experience, I encounter a deeper stream of grief around what seemed to be lost and even, unforgivable. So, returning to my image, this crusty rock seemed to call to me to pierce into it. When I was a child I was fascinated with geodes, those stones that have little crystals inside, the hidden gift. Perhaps my own hope brought me to a place of piercing this stone and seeing also a crystal offering within it. To pass through the stone however, I was asked to encounter the sticky tar left there from what had not been addressed in the integral field as it appears to me.

From this place, the question that surfaces from my heart is, what are we willing to forgive, to embrace, to emotionally digest as a way of clearing our integral collective fields? The thing is that I believe in the possibility of an even better story for integral. And I feel ripples with community dialogues happening through facebook, conference calls, and projects like MetaInegral. If I what I am saying here has no value to you, please feel free to disregard it. It is written more for those who feel also in their thoughts and hearts that some space could be made emotionally and energetically towards a more vibrant integral field. I would also be very interested in exploring ways we could do this with intention collectively. I want to offer my deep respect to all those who have stepped up and taken on a leadership and supporter roles in the integral  field, whether apparently successful or unsuccessful,  as we are all on journeys of learning and unfolding what we value most in the world.


(Image of Geode above, courtesy flickr-er zackfrank under the Creative Commons License)

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  • Comment Link Tim Winton Wednesday, 06 June 2012 01:56 posted by Tim Winton

    Hi Carissa,

    Well said and beautifully expressed. How we create and build a 'more vibrant integral field' is an open question at the moment. I'm interested in discussing other attempts at looking at Integral through Integral, if you know of any that might serve to start this conversation and to more fully open the space you have opened.

  • Comment Link Julie Gabrielli Thursday, 07 June 2012 02:25 posted by Julie Gabrielli

    Hi, Carissa,
    Your thoughts here put me in mind of the great Joanna Macy and her "Work that Reconnects." She is so articulate about the importance of turning towards -- rather than away from -- our grief. What's behind it is our great love for the world and that is a source of power and energy to do the work that needs to be done. While her approach isn't overtly Integral, it is in essence.

  • Comment Link Carissa Wieler Thursday, 07 June 2012 20:09 posted by Carissa Wieler

    Hi Julie,

    Yes, Macy's work has key pieces for us in working with Grief, particularly in relation to the world around us. In turning towards grief, it seems like there's a quality of surrender to the unknown. Some say that we need to grieve to get past the grief and move on...yet in entering the grief, in my experience, one's relationship with the unknown can also take shape. Does this make sense? And this feels very integral to me.


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