Your Integrity

The laws of integrity

Are there any general principles, which will help me to live well?

I think there are four:

  1. to have a policy of strategic optimism
  2. to be tender to whatever is living and growing
  3. to be fair, and
  4. to engage in any situation with its own peculiarity, its unique pattern.

The law of strategic optimism

Life is inherently hopeful. Life is always living forward. In any situation, pessimism is a kind of betrayal. The pessimist is half-way to defeat. The person who looks for a way through, who trusts that there will be a way through, is going to survive and prosper.

On that journey, the good is the enemy of the best. If we are ever to come home, we will have to resist the sirens – all those voices calling us to good things, which are not what we truly want.

Pessimism is an insult to life.

– John Dewey

Think positively, because it works. This is a strategic optimism – neither animal buoyancy, nor sentimentality, nor empty metaphysics.

Life may be bitter, grim, tragic and unrelenting. Especially at such times, we learn the value of the enduring heart.

The first law of integrity reads:


The law of tenderness

Balancing Baby by Jila Peacock

It is easy to dry up, to shrivel, to get trapped in rules and formulas, to become narrow, rigid, safe, tough, critical, brittle and anti-life. We have to pass beyond these limitations.

The hard man is the friend of death;
the gentle person is a friend to life.

– Lao Tzu

We need to be open, tender, generous, passionate, supple, daring and inventive. Life is sacred – demanding of us a resourcefulness which wells up from the depths of our being.

A response, from everything in us which is open-hearted and merciful, to whatever is green and new, to whatever is frail and vulnerable, to whatever is honest and courageous, to whatever calls to us from the depth of life for reciprocity, justice and compassion.

The second law of integrity reads:


The law of justice

It is crucial to have a warm heart. And a warm heart is not enough. Also, we need to use our heads, to build on our natural sense of what is fair.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

– Martin Luther King

Integrity is founded in the instinctive values of children – in attachment to individuals and elemental fairness.

The sense of fairness is, I think, primitive in us. It is simply part of human nature.

It is vital to understand how deeply ethical reflection is embedded in our language; to realise there is a gulf between what we think we value, and what indeed we do value; to try to discover what is right, rather than merely what feels right; and to reflect on the complexities which underlie that difference.

For justice to be done in any situation, however, we need to have access to specific raw materials:

  1. the stories, feelings and perspectives of all the people involved
  2. factual information about the situation, and
  3. an ability to stand outside the situation, reflectively.

Given these raw materials, we may be able to weigh the different factors, to see the underlying pattern, and to discern the just way to proceed.

Above all, it is vital not to betray what we know to be just – whether out of submission to wealth or power, or for fear of consequences, or because we are subject to pressure from those around us, or because an unjust state of affairs is embedded in the social structure – or for any other reason whatsoever.

The path of justice is not easy.

Nevertheless, the third law of integrity reads:


The law of context

What I am most concerned to do is to call attention
to the complexity of the ethical situation.

Whether he likes it or not,
Nero is within the wider situation.

The question which confronts him is whether
in this definite situation

it is better to stop fiddling
and put out the fire.

—Susan Stebbing

We have to bring several kinds of sensitivity to bear – emotional, ethical and practical. We have to avoid forcing any set of fixed rules or principles onto a situation.

Every situation has its own particularity, its unique configuration.

Nice distinctions are troublesome.
It is so much easier to say that your neighbour is good for nothing,
than to enter into all the circumstances that would oblige you
to modify that opinion.

—George Eliot

The language into which you were born is rich in ways to think about life and action. The society in which a situation arises has a finely wrought pattern.

The more sensitive we are to those practical and ethical nuances which are embodied in language and custom, the more finely we will tune our actions, achieving success without stirring up needless conflict, and without compromising our self-respect – or humiliating others.

The fourth law of integrity reads:


These four laws of integrity are the foundation of the successful life as I understand it, keys to a life of love and of respect for self and others.

Your Integrity

Experiential focusing

We set out to explore the depths of our psyches
and the reaches of our spirits.

—Ray Manzarek

I am going to speak of five forms of experiential focusing. But the foundation is experiential search – the natural process of a person’s self-exploration.

Here a listener can never lead, only follow – this scrupulous habit of following the person’s inner process informs all other forms of focusing, saving us from degeneracy, emptiness and technique.

1 Experiential search

Ascension by Janet Pfunder

Dwelling in and with your feelings, thoughts, images and intentions – being sensitively aware of the movements of your inner life – all this is like browsing.

Goats browse. They move about in an area, feeding on the leaves and shoots of trees and bushes. In the same way, a person can move around inside their problems, nibbling a little here and there, getting essential nourishment.

When you browse amongst your feelings, a succession of little steps comes, through which a situation may gradually be transformed, by small incremental stages.

Of all the processes and practices outlined on this site, experiential search is the most natural. It is how we spontaneously explore (or talk through) whatever is going on for us – our problems and projects, fears and nightmares, dreams and intentions.

Because browsing is so natural and so very variable, I will say little about it, except that it is by far the most complex and elusive human process known to me.

For this reason, when a person begins to explore their world with a companion, it is vital for that companion to be a listener, a following presence. A companion who tries to guide or direct may well disrupt the fragile intricacies of the natural process.

So the listener is with the person in one sense – as an empathic and human companion; but in another sense, allows the person to be utterly alone, picking a unique and idiosyncratic path through the landscape.

Browsing, you may need to be alone or to have a companion, to write or walk, talk or fall into silence, dance or sit, daydream or shout.

You may be calm and self-possessed, quietly and sensitively reflective. Or you may be over-wrought, possessed by waves of uncontrollable feeling, so that there is a natural transition from experiential search to fully feeling.

Again – there will be times when the forward movement is blocked, and you find yourself making a natural transition to situational focusing. I know four main forms of this transition:

  • You are stuck for words – and pause at that point, waiting for words to come.
  • Your listener does not follow – and you search for another way to make your point.
  • You find you are stuck (there is no forward movement) – so that all you can do is dwell on the overall sense of your perplexity.
  • You come across a complex feeling – it presents itself before you, for the next phase of your search.

Through all of this, there is a thread, which the listener (if there is one) must faithfully follow.

It would be contradictory for me to offer guidelines for experiential search. It is your search. You must find your own way – and you will. In the course of finding your way, you also find yourself.

As for the listener, everything I know about keeping company with the rich, subtle process of experiential search has been hinted at somewhere on this site – in particular in the sections on the way of the listener, close listening, and listening sensitivities; and in the two sets of so-called “laws”: the laws of encounter and the laws of integrity.

For much I cannot say, which is intangible and subtle, unique to the human moment.

2 Situational focusing

By The River by Janet Pfunder

When you face any difficulty, it is good to know how to dwell in a place of feeling, paying attention to your sense of being puzzled, blocked, thwarted or perplexed. For this is the true secret of human creativity.

Many writers have drawn attention to the role of a feeling of perplexity in the process of thinking, amongst them philosophers – Plato, Frege, Dewey, and my great teacher, Gene Gendlin.

Gene has devoted his life to the study of these feelings of perplexity, which he calls “felt senses”, and to delineating the process of situational focusing.

Everybody knows what it is like to be without words, feeling for a way forward. You may say, “I don’t quite have it yet. It’s on the tip of my tongue…” or “No, that’s not right. Let me see. It’s more like _____”.

When you stay with that sense of perplexity, you will find that it guides you. As various ideas come to mind, this sense or feel of the situation adjudicates (as it were) between them.

To one idea, there is no felt response. To the next, a cautious wavering, as if something in you is saying, “Well, maybe”. Finally, there is a marked shift of feeling, a kind of “Eureka! I got it!” You get to know what comes next, or what to do next.

A life-step has come. Life-steps are often unexpected. When they come, you may have a marked feeling of relief or surprise.

This sequence is situational focusing. It is the direct path. It is both feeling and thinking. It frees you to make your life your own.

We have all heard of “emotional intelligence”. Situational focusing is your emotional intelligence.

We need to go beyond the formed ideas which we already have. To an extent, the formed ideas are stale – they are like so much machinery, or like a computer: they work out implications, but can never generate a truly creative next step.

But when you are touching and tapping the felt sense of the words you say, the images you see, the music you hear, the gestures you make, the problem you are working on; touching and tapping – then you are waiting for something fresh to break through: for a life-step to come, for an unmistakable moment of real change.

You find the next idea, the next piece of the puzzle, the solution, the life-forward direction. It is like getting a breath of fresh air.

Situational focusing is a way of working with the wisdom of your felt or inarticulate knowing.

But in many people, this natural process has become blocked or obstructed. This essential process is lost to them.

Gene Gendlin and other teachers have devised many different versions of a set of teaching-steps, which enable anybody to re-learn this form of creative thinking.

Rob’s teaching steps for situational focusing

1 The situation

1 The situation

You have a problem in your life. The forward movement is stopped.

A “problem” is simply “something which is calling for attention”. It need not be difficult or negative. It might be delightful, fresh or inspiring. But it is in some sense caught in an eddy – needing to find a way back into the running stream.

You are feeling some sort of blockage in your soul.

2 Saying “Hello”

2 Saying 'Hello'

In villages in many countries, it is important to say “Good morning!” and “Good afternoon!” to everyone you pass on the street and even when you climb into the back of a transport truck.

And in Focusing too – sometimes you might feel too ashamed, or too something, to get at all close to something that happened to you, or something you did, or something you witnessed. But you can at least say “Buenos dias”.

“Uh-oh! – here’s a blockage. Hullo, blockage!” You notice a loss of way, and you just say, “Oh, that’s there.” You say hello to all-of-that.

Whoever passes you in the street, you can always say “Hello!”

3 The space

3 The space

You stop what you are doing. You are probably still caught in the thoughts and feelings which come inside the situation.

You let these thoughts and feelings settle down. You need to be calm enough to feel very low-level emotional states.

Soon you are aware of a clear space within you, some (perhaps small, but sufficient) degree of stillness or openness.

You have come into a little pool of silence.

4 The whole thing

the invitation

You sense for a feeling of the whole problem, inviting a “felt sense” of the whole situation to form, noticing what it feels like as a whole, noticing the quality of the whole thing.

4 The whole thing

the fuzz

Rarely or never is this felt sense simply there waiting for you. What generally comes first is “the fuzz” – a murky, unclear sense of diffuse dissatisfaction.

the felt sense

But after a few moments, the felt sense falls out, comes into focus, gells or crystallizes – a feeling of the whole thing. This feeling may well be extremely subtle, even elusive. Even so, it is clear and stable, compared to the fuzz.

The felt sense may have a precise bodily location, but need not. It may seem to form in, around or outside the body, or have no clear location at all. It may not seem to be “bodily” in any way.

In one sense, nothing has yet changed. And yet, it is a very different thing to have a sense of any situation as a whole, and no longer be trapped inside it.

the junction

Either when the felt sense gells, or later on, you may find yourself unexpectedly at a junction. What was one mass now has several parts. At this moment, you may feel a marked easing.

Now you must choose: should I follow one path at a time? or will I wait here at the junction, holding the whole pattern in awareness.

There may be many strands. Each has a story to tell, and will tell that story, once it is ready to – through words or images which come, accompanied by movements of feeling, changes in the overall quality of the felt sense.

Each feeling is like a guest, whom you make welcome.

5 The likeness

5 The likeness

You set out to look for a word, phrase, image, sound or gesture, which will capture the quality of the felt sense or perplexity. You refine that saying, until the feeling noticeably eases a little.

You begin to be able to say what the feeling is like – and something in you goes “Aaahhh Yes That’s how it is.”

You begin to have a sense of who the guest is, of what she is like.

6 Sensing towards an opening

6 Sensing towards an opening

You are inviting the stuck pattern to loosen, to free up in some way as yet unknown.

You are sensing for some carrying forward, waiting for a creative step to bubble up, accompanied by some kind of felt movement. Since what you are sensing is the whole thing, it will be the whole thing which now changes, mutates or moves forward – as a whole.

You are dowsing – waiting for an opening – and will know it when it comes: for with it comes surprise, release or relief – a sigh or laughter, heart-easing or tears.

Your guest tells her story, and offers you some gift which she has brought you.

6.1 The intrusion of threat

6.1 The intrusion of threat

Typically, before the opening comes, you may experience “threat”. It is hard to speak about threat, because it takes so many forms. In essence, threat is the fear of change.

There are complex forces in a person, whose job is to hold existing patterns in place. They are valuable, even essential, for without them our lives would be all over the place. But since these forces defend the status quo, they cherish the old ways, and are unfriendly to change.

As any pattern loosens, these forces wake up. They try to distract you. They are hostile, fearful, clever, ruthless and inventive. If you fight them, they win.

You must delicately feel your way forward, when threat intrudes upon the process, protecting that space in which the felt sense may open.

Your guest may be frightened by a hostile intruder.

7 Giving thanks

7 Giving thanks

You receive any opening or life-step, when it comes.

You are taking time to allow the new to be integrated, so that the system does not fall back into the old stuckness, when you say “Goodbye” to the loosened, open space. For even after an opening has come, threat may creep up stealthily, to rob you of the gift which you were given.

You are thanking each guest for the gift which she has brought.

Sensitive attention to feelings of perplexity pervades the process of creative thinking. Situational focusing is the wind which fills the sails of your engagement with life.

2 Inner worlds focusing

Tambourine Mother by Jila Peacock

Inner worlds focusing is both like and unlike situational focusing. In a way, it is just a matter of the starting point – but then again, the different starting point tends to lead to a process with an entirely different flavour.

1 Going inside

You find a time and place to be quiet. You bring your attention into your body, into the inner world of sensations and feelings. After a little while, you feel you are there.

2 Something

You notice “something”. The something may be anything, so long as it is felt. It may be vague and fuzzy, but it is unquestionably physical.

You may or may not know whether this feeling has anything to do with your life.

3 Words or images

You begin to find words or images, which describe what the something is like perhaps in oddly poetic or metaphorical ways.

It is very much as if the “something” is showing how the world looks from its point of view. You may be taken by surprise.

4 The inner relationship

Sometimes something has feelings about you. These may include gentle irony or sarcasm, as if it is saying, “Well, hello. How unusual, that you would be listening to me.”

Or as the goddess Aphrodite said to the poet Sappho: “What is it this time?”

There is typically a developing inner relationship, as you and your feelings slowly come to trust one another.

5 Felt movement

Whenever the words or images truly capture what the feeling is like, it changes – perhaps in a subtle way. When you feel the coming of one of these little steps, you take time to welcome and absorb it.

Once in a while, there may be a big shift. You feel wonder and surprise. There is a striking sense that you are being carried forward in your life.

6 The trail

Steps of felt movement form a chain, just as if you were following a trail in the hills or woods, as it turns and winds, or being carried by an ocean current.

When you feel you have gone far enough (or you run out of time), you find a place to close or cadence – and you make a gentle retransition to the world of ordinary life.

Note: In describing inner worlds focusing, I have drawn largely upon the work of Ann Weiser Cornell and Barbara McGavin.)

4 Fully feeling

Instead of the little piecemeal steps of experiential search, some people, who have “the gift of tears”, are overtaken from time to time by grand cathartic releases – huge waves of anger, fear or grief, which break dramatically over the rocks of old rigidities, and may shatter them – freeing up bound energy, dissolving chronic tightness which has been locked into the muscles of the body.

For some people – for example, my friend Kathy McGuire – fully feeling is a central practice, guided by a subtle sensing towards the approach of tears or deep emotion.

Tidal Wave by Jila Peacock

There are a thousand kinds of tears.

There is no need to be afraid of fully feeling. It has its own cycle. You only have to wait peacefully for the cycle to complete itself, for the flood to subside, leaving a changed and fertile landscape.

5 Clearing a space

Most people go through life constantly bearing all their worries and concerns, like so many heavy parcels.

You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to feel weighed down all the time. It’s not necessary. You can put your problems down, and have no fear of losing them. Don’t worry. They will be back to trouble you further.

Clearing a space is a way to have a clear mind, freeing up life-energy for living.

There’s nothing insincere or inauthentic about having a little happiness, energy and clarity of mind.

Almost anything you might want to do is likely to go better, when the inner space is clear; when present experiencing is not veiled behind a gauze of habitual global (bad) feeling.

Patient work with the clear space and the background feeling tends to bring profound changes in a person’s whole attitude to life.

(Gene Gendlin, Marine de Freminville, Mary McGuire and other colleagues have come up with many ways of clearing a space. Here I have woven several together to make an independent practice, hoping you will find it both spacious and poignant.)

1 Evoking the clear space

First of all, picture a time and a place, real or imaginary, where you were truly happy. Evoke it vividly. Be there. See it and hear it and touch it and taste it and smell it.

Don’t let anything contaminate this imagined space.

Everest and Lhotse from Tenboche

You can do this really elaborately – especially if you are in deep trouble, or feeling very distressed.

Use all your senses, your memories and associations. You might even want to draw or paint the place.

You are taking a little holiday from your life.

2 Distant echoes

The middle part of clearing a space is a cycle, with five little steps:

1 Listening for an echo

Allow your attention to turn to whatever might disturb that clear space, noticing the feel of one issue at a time – very faintly and remotely – as if you were remembering your life from a great distance.

You are letting just one thing draw your attention, which could come between you and feeling “all fine”.

Or one good thing, which is pulling on your attention. We don’t want to be biased towards the negative.

You are evoking images of various life-situations; letting each image generate just a hint of its associated global feeling-state.

But you yourself – stay always in the clear space. Make sure that nothing clouds its feeling or its images.

You might feel yourself moving back and forth between just barely sensing the issue, and backing away into uncontaminated space.

Once you find your balance with one issue, so that you are able to be aware of it, without either losing touch or drowning in it, then you can go on.

2 The felt sense

Stay for a moment with the feel of this whole issue – the way in which it colours or slightly overshadows your sense of being all fine and at peace.

How does that whole thing feel to you? Please be careful to distinguish between the feelings you would have in the situation, and the feel of the thing as a whole.

Don’t go into anything.

Just now, you are going to stay with your mild sense of the whole thing.

3 The handle

Invite a handle to come – a symbol which comes up out of that felt sense, and will evoke the feeling again, if you should need it to.

What word or phrase or image (or sound or gesture) would catch the quality or flavour of that whole thing?

You know that a handle has come, when the feel of the issue responds in some way. Something in you says, “Yes, that’s it. That’s how it is”.

In other words, it’s a handle for just so long as, when you pick it up, the suitcase comes too.

4 Friendly curiosity

Now spend a few moments here. Perhaps this felt sense is ready to open. You are just briefly touching and tapping the feeling, with a sense of friendly curiosity.

Perhaps some little forward step is ready to come here, so that the issue will feel a little different, and you will know that you are one step further on with it.

If a life-step comes, make it welcome. And if not, that’s fine too.

5 Refreshing your sense of the clear space

All the time, whilst you are listening to an echo of your distant life, in your imagination you are still at peace, in this (perhaps remote and beautiful) place, where you can be happy.

Before you go on, let the images of being in that place come back; let the feeling of happiness and peace be fully there again.

Now let’s see what else you are carrying today.

The background feeling

Once all the specific issues have let go of you, at least to some extent, you feel easier. Now, if you are attentive, you may become aware of a background feeling.

Fullness by Jila Peacock

What is a mood or attitude which pervades your life, is always with you: your sense of “that’s just how life is”?

How would it be, if you could also put down that mood, attitude or pervasive colouring?

Go through the same five little steps with the background feeling, which you just went through with each life-issue.

There is not one single background feeling. There are many layers. This is a profound and subtle territory. Don’t worry if it proves to be elusive at first. Once you become able to let go of the background feeling, you may find that other issues vanish, or carry forward far more easily.

When you are being deeply real with yourself, whatever needs to happen, does happen.

It’s so tempting to retreat into theory.
There’s a longing for something simple,
which can only be had by denying pain and contradiction.

—Ray Carrick

Life moves forward, once we stop hiding away from ourselves, and stay with whatever is real for us.

By clearing a space, we are able to be with whatever is really there, without drowning in it or living under grey clouds.

Your Integrity

Being in the body

O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts!

—John Keats

Demeter and Persephone by Jila Peacock

It is good to feel at home in your body, to enter into your animal nature.

You need to fall silent, so that you can be aware of what you are feeling in all its immediacy. To be sensitive to fine sensations, vibrations and delicate flows of energy. To notice how you are affected by your immediate environment, your here and now. To become aware of desire, as it wells up and dies down again.

You are going to sink down softly, into your own embodiment.

For many centuries, in many parts of the world, people have feared and suspected the body. The physical and the sensual have been widely condemned – and often brutally punished. Now people turn against these customs, but in ways which may be merely rebellious.

Are we still contaminated, despite a surface hedonism? Are we divided selves?

And are you not human, in a human frame? Are you not alive?

Here is a practice, which is simply about being alive. It is easy. It takes little time. Soon you will find that the puritan who watches over you is fading naturally away.

The practice branches after the first three steps. And so you must choose.

At the branching point: will you actively choose one of the five branches? Or will you choose to wait and see which branch opens up before you? Then as the process develops: once you are on one branch, will you commit yourself to it? Or will you leave yourself free to move from one branch to another?


The first step is to become still.

Find a time and place to be quiet, to shut out distractions. Let yourself be comfortable, in whatever position feels good to you, standing, sitting or lying down.

You are allowing your thoughts to subside, little by little.


Spend some time simply being aware of raw sensation.

This has nothing to do with naming or describing. Nor having insights, nor being wise. You need not set out to change anything.

When the mind begins to chatter or images to stream, come back gently to what you are feeling.

Just sink luxuriously into whatever is there. Be aware of the body as a whole – the complete body-image – and felt patterns of sensation, vibration and energy.


Demeter and Persephone by Jila Peacock

At times, you will be aware of your present environment, your here and now.

Whatever sense impressions are here, just let them be. The world is having a certain effect on you, which the body registers.

Now the practice branches:

The sensual branch

In the crucible of stillness, as the elements of sensation and environment combine, there wells up in your body some kind of wanting, desire, restlessness or longing – an impulse to act, or a wish to be acted upon by the world.

Here you meet both freedom and captivity. You fall into a world of pure sensuality, the pleasure and the agony of the physical.

The compassionate branch

Demeter and Persephone by Jila Peacock

Perhaps you are in pain. You have been through some deeply traumatic experience, either in early childhood or later on. When you try to work with the pain or frozenness which is left behind, it is too much – too direct, too invasive, and unsafe.

You might try just being very gently present to the world of your sensations, quietly aware of the place in you which is hurting. It may be that little by little something will ease.

There may be a symbol – that is, an image with a charge of associated feeling. Perhaps you can let the image simply be there in the image-space? – letting yourself be gently aware, so gently aware, of the pattern of feeling which it carries.

Now suppose, for all your gentleness, you find yourself beginning to drown. Then clearing a space may be more helpful – for it offers a way to be just barely in touch with painful memories; safe from being sucked back into their agony.

The contemplative branch

Meditation is awareness without judgment
in the whole of your life.

—Akong Tulku Rinpoche (personal communication)

Now you are simply watching your feelings, as they come and go.

Our souls are cluttered up with psychic litter. All our lives we have been hoarding junk. Let it emerge, and let it go.

When we simply discard – not pushing anything away, but simply releasing, releasing, releasing – sometimes there comes a breath of profound existential relaxation – an unfamiliar opening into freedom and space.

Perhaps some veil will be drawn aside. You may feel desire or terror, awe or mystery, clarity or joy, peace or benevolence. You may find yourself entering into the white oceans of silence.

There is nothing here to hold on to. Inner states come and they pass.

Something remains.

The intuitive branch

Demeter and Persephone by Jila Peacock

You are listening to the shifting energies of the body.

You may simply leave yourself open to the Other; or you may actively say (to yourself, to God, to the source, to the universe, or wherever the magic comes from…) –

“Please – I need some help with Problem X”.

And you wait…

A window may open here – perhaps into the world of dreams; or perhaps some intuition will flash into your mind.

Please don’t expect to remember what comes. Insight is often fleeting. You may need to write or draw for a few moments, to capture what just came.

The expressive branch

So long as you are still, be still. After a while, you will feel ready to move.

When you need to move, then move. You might move into dance or poetry, music or painting. Some form of creative expression is natural for you. You are allowing it to emerge gracefully from the silence of waiting.

You can go to and fro between stillness and movement, each informing the other.

Your Integrity

Your Integrity

It is the heart that makes a man great –
his intentions, his thoughts, and his convictions.

—Muhammad ’Ali

The Seafarer by Jila Peacock

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:

  1. being in the body
  2. experiential focusing
  3. 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.