It is the heart that makes a man great –
his intentions, his thoughts, and his convictions.
Integrity is wholeness, the whole person acting as one.
For we are often fragmented, one part pulling this way, another that. We are tempted to side with one part and squash the rest. Does this ever work? – Well, sometimes, perhaps. But it costs.
I want to invite you to explore the texture of your life impartially; to question your beliefs and values; and to think creatively, facing each problem squarely, and setting out to make your dreams come true.
In order to live fully, you need to have a good relationship with yourself; to be in touch with your inner life – your longings and dreams; your motivations and sense of meaning; your anger, fear and sadness; your dread of boredom, loneliness and humiliation; your love, joy and hopefulness – to be open both to tenderness and pathos in your life.
Feelings play a crucial role in our lives, as the engine which drives our thoughts, images and actions. Alas – we are always liable to be self-deceiving, where feelings are concerned. Thus, when I speak of your integrity, I am thinking above all of feelings.
But integrity is more than what you feel. It is about thought and sound judgment, ethics and conscience.
Since the dawn of time, men and women have engaged in a deep, natural process of search or vision-quest. You have to learn who you are, to accept yourself as the person that you are.
You need to discern your own gifts.
Until you find your own vision, you are swept this way and that by surface waves. It is hard to be stable, to get ground under your feet, to be wholly yourself.
How shall we achieve this stability?
I wish I could trap neatly the search for integrity. But after many years of reflection on the role of feelings and judgments in our lives, I see this can't be done. The inner life of human beings is so complex and so variable that there can be no way to sum it all up in a single practice.
I am going to talk about two practices – and to make some approach to the complexity of our inner lives by speaking of further branches within each.
In this part of the site, then, there are three sections:
- being in the body
- experiential focusing
- the laws of integrity
The first two sections describe practices – ways to deepen your sense of personal integrity and your knowledge of yourself. Underlying the practices are certain crucial ethical principles, the four laws of integrity.
Each practice has a number of variations. Temperaments vary, as do situations. So these variations are all needed.
1 The practice of being in the body is about simply noticing all sorts of bodily sensations, tensions, feelings, emotions, currents, energies, and so forth.
It has five branches:
- the contemplative branch
- the sensual branch
- the compassionate branch
- the intuitive branch
- the expressive branch.
2 The practice of experiential focusing is about finding ways to symbolise what you are feeling – in words, images, sounds or gestures.
I will set out five variations:
- experiential search
- situational focusing
- inner worlds focusing
- fully feeling
- clearing a space.
Experiential search is the natural, spontaneous process by which any person explores their feelings and needs, and searches for some way forward.
Situational focusing is about sensing a situation as a whole – getting way up above and seeing the whole thing in a new way. It is about seeing the whole wood, rather than each individual tree or clump of moss.
You start from a place in your life which is blocked in some way. It is no longer moving forwards. There are three phases –
- finding a vantage point
- getting a sense of the whole thing
- inviting the whole thing to mutate in some way.
Inner worlds focusing is about being intimately aware of what is going on in your private feelings; finding words or images to describe the subtle movements of the soul.
Fully feeling is about going fearlessly into the heart of your emotional responses, sensing their raw power in all its nakedness. The fire of passion burns through all obstructions, and there is a sudden outpouring of new life.
Clearing a space takes an approach directly opposite to that of fully feeling. Instead of feeling the force of your emotions, you sense them delicately, as if from far away. You are spared the dread of being overwhelmed.
These two simple, powerful, inter-related practices – being in the body and experiential focusing – ground and develop your sense of integrity or congruence.
Next: Being in the body