In November of last year, 20 participants and four facilitators embarked on a journey to discover what is integrative practice, why it is beneficial and how to actually do it. We covered more details regarding the structure of the project in a previous post so please check it out here if interested: https://thefield.aleftrust.org/integrative-practice-research-project-in-romania/.
There was a broad mix of activities to accommodate the holistic nature of this project. We had both theoretical elements in the form of PowerPoint backed mini-lectures on everything from integral theory to lucid dreaming, structures and states of consciousness and different sorts of approaches to yoga and breathwork.
Besides engaging the mind, we also had ample time and sessions of group sharing in the form of circle discussions (based on the ancestral practice of circle initiation and discussion) that engaged the emotional and interpersonal modalities. The vital energies and the body were stimulated by sessions of yoga, breathwork and mobility exercises, whilst the spiritual dimension was served by group guided meditation practices as well as thematic specific discussions.
We also engaged the whole group by playing games together (we played Integration Game), and used exercises of stream of consciousness writing to tap into our inner intuition. In the last session, participants were given the chance to present an optional commitment to integrative practice for another nine months and outline their integrative practice structure and proposed schedule in front of the group.
I deeply appreciated the diversity, enthusiasm and dedication of the whole group which facilitated both deep insights as well as enjoying some humor and laughter. An anecdote comes to mind, when one participant was engaging in what to most of us seemed like a manifestation of spiritual bypassing. Another participant very discretely tried to point this out by recommending some literature on the topic, whilst another, more direct participant interrupted the discussion and basically said something like: “If anyone was wondering what spiritual bypassing is, this is it,” which prompted immediate laughter from the whole group and eased the atmosphere.
During the project, we also developed more insight into the nature of holistic change facilitation. This is not a linear process, it requires patience and trust and relies on a balance of polarities as well as insights from mind, body and emotions alike. We also realized that holistic change facilitation is a process in which the facilitators are also co-participants, and develop and grow throughout the process together with the other participants.
As the overarching theme of the Conscious Community Project indicates, our main aim was to create such a conscious community. Based on both my personal reflection and participants feedback, I think we achieved this aim.
We came together as 20 separate participants and four facilitators and we emerged from the project as a conscious community of beings. Below is a selection of relevant feedback from our participants:
“…I don’t know exactly how this happened, however as the project progressed, I felt more and more connected with every other participant, giving me the sense of belonging to a mature network of conscious beings that supported my own growth…this was amazing…” (Andrei)
“…I felt discouraged at first to start all these practices as I felt I was the only one who was a beginner and had difficulties, however as the project unfolded, a sense of community and mutual support started to emerge and I saw that others were in a similar position to me, which encouraged me to open up and take the courage and commitment to practice more…” (Anon.)
“I liked the openness and vulnerability of each of us, the sharing of experiences and opinions, the creation of a non-judgmental space that slowly allowed us to be a little more authentic. Also, the fact that you guided us in various techniques, you were with us to teach us the right source, to share your experience and to give us a welcomed advice whenever we needed it” (Valeria)
“What I liked most was the way the project facilitators conveyed the information. An approach full of understanding, positivity and with a lot of passion for the personal development process. A real inspiration for all participants” (Miruna)
“It represented and represents my support group in the difficult period we are going through” (Alexandra)
In the future I would like to take the idea of integrative practice and conscious communties to the next level and hopefully create new projects and widen the reach to more participants and broader audiences, in the form of both online projects as well as in-person weekly meetings and even week-long integral practice retreats.