Identity, Power & Integral Change Workshops

My colleague at c-Integral, Rose Sackey-Milligan, and I will be offering this workshop in Boston and Northampton, Massachusetts this fall. This will be a great opportunity for people interested in learning experientially about the consciousness-in-action approach and about its potential for personal and collective level change.

We’d love to see you either in Boston or Northampton.

Here’s the announcement:

Identity, Power & Integral Change is a one-day workshop in which participants are invited to deepen their understanding of identity, broaden their analysis of power, critically examine values, beliefs and behaviors concerning liberation, and personally engage transformative practices for integral change.

Through this workshop, we will explore these basic aspects of the consciousness-in-action process:

  • Integral Well-Being & Development: Personal and Collective Dimensions of Being and Doing
  • Forces That Hinder Well-Being & Development: Complexities of Institutional and Internalized Oppression
  • Personal & Social Aspects of Identity & Power Within Dominant Culture: Self in Dynamic Relationship to Other(s) as Context for Liberation and Transformation
  • Integral Transformative Practices: Tools, Practices and Disciplines to Undermine Reactive Patterns and Nurture Libratory Transformation

This workshop will be useful for helping professionals, social justice and spiritual activists, community organizers and cultural workers, students and educators, and other change agents interested in the connection between personal well-being and development and social justice and transformation.

Facilitated by Raúl Quiñones-Rosado and Rose Sackey-Milligan, this workshop will be offered on Friday, October 22nd in the Boston area and again on Saturday, October 23rd in Northampton, MA.

Sliding Scale Fee: $25 – $75  — (Supported in part by The Seasons Fund for Social Transformation).

To PRE-REGISTER please send an e-mail to: info@c-integral.org

C-in-Action Webinar

A few weeks ago, Rose Sackey-Milligan, c-Integral’s Co-Director, and I held our first Consciousness-in-Action webinar. This presentation was hosted by the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society as part of their series of webinars for the Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, teachers, scholars, administrators and students who teach or use contemplative practices in academia.

This presentation provides an overview of consciousness-in-action, c-Integral’s unique approach to personal and social transformation. As such, it serves as a basic introduction to some of the key concepts, principles and applications of this transformative path. In it, we speak to the value of contemplative practice in addressing complex identity and social justice issues for individual and collective liberation from oppression, a necessary stage as we move toward integral well-being and development.

Clearly, this is merely an introduction to the consciousness-in-action approach to integral liberation and transformation. We hope it serves as a teaser to those that may interested in learning more about this transformative practice.

Our thanks go to Beth Wadham, Carrie Bergman and the folks at C-Mind for inviting us to share our work with ACMHE and for making it possible to share it with you all reading this.

Consciousness in Action from Center for Contemplative Mind on Vimeo.

Reflections of St-Petersburg

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Czar Peter The Great's Summer Palace

I’ve been back from Russia almost three full weeks now, but I still feel like I am only just catching up with myself. Maybe it’s because since returning I’ve been traveling back and forth from Puerto Rico to Texas as part of The People’s Institute’s Undoing Racism statewide effort there, and have hardly had a chance to get grounded here at home. Writing this reflection and looking through the photos I took help me finally land.

Harmony Institute’s Second International Conference on Self and Other: The Sacred Space for Dialogue in St. Petersburg was absolutely wonderful! My workshop, Social Identities, Culture, Self and Other: An Integral Transformative Approach, went quite well, with about 25 Russian participants (and one US American): psychotherapists, sociologists, organizational development, human resources, and marketing professionals and others concerned with the conference’s theme of understanding diversity and difference.

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Katya Matveeva, Irina Ruklinskaya, Anna Rodina, Jean-Marc Randin, (background) Sergey Valukhov, & Asya Bubnova

The several other workshops I was able to attend were quite enjoyable and gave me a sense of how Russian professionals are currently approaching issues of diversity as related to gender and feminism, mass communications, art therapy, management, and personal growth.

Not surprisingly, the best part of the conference was meeting people, making new friends, and building upon relationships already begun, especially with my Harmony Institute hosts.

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Znamenka Palace Hotel

The conference, held at the Znamenka Palace, just walking distance from Peter The Great’s spectacular Summer Palace, was a very full experience of teaching, learning, and sharing across cultures. Clearly, I met most of my desired outcomes: (1) to share my perspective regarding the role of social group identities and the importance of social power dynamics for integral well being and human development in the context of diversity and otherness; (2) that this perspective and framework be received and considered by psychotherapists, OD consultants, scholars and social change workers; (3) to develop and nurture authentic relationships within this international network; and (4) to plant seeds for future collaboration.

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Scott Thompson & Alexander Badkhen

It was also great to spend some time with Scott Thompson, Program Coordinator with Intersections International in NYC. Scott and I had met at the Association for the Advancement of Psychosynthesis conference last year, though it was only until now that we had this chance to talk more intentionally about our shared commitment to personal development in the context of social transformation.

Another desired outcome attained was that I also got to learn, or rather, begin to observe similarities and differences between Russia, the US and Puerto Rico, both broadly culturally and more specifically related to approaches to transformative work. My preliminary impression is that folks there, like most helping professionals, transpersonal and integral psychology, and spirituality folks in circles I’m connected to on this side of the planet, are primarily concerned with personal growth and professional development; most of the focus is on personal, individual level growth, and some organizational development. There, like here, I sense that the dialogue on social group dynamics and psychosocial complexities across individual/collective levels begins to push the envelope of people’s current operating paradigm. I sense people are curious, intrigued, or perhaps intuitively attracted, even if most do not fully comprehend the scope and depth of integral transformative praxis. [Of course, a 4-hour workshop (only 2 hours factoring in translation time) is barely enough to scratch the surface.]

Beautiful St. Peterburg
Beautiful St. Peterburg

Yet I come away convinced that this framework, analysis and process model is absolutely relevant and applicable in cultural contexts beyond PR and the US. For example, in an exercise facilitated by Scott and Harmony Institute co-director, Alexander Badkhen, using the consciousness-in-action concept of balance and harmony as key principles for well-being and as a core unifying center for the diverse aspects of self, a middle-aged woman of northern Russia shared how she recalled embarrassment and shame that as a child she felt of her father’s ethnicity, and how she had hidden that aspect of her identity ever since. In that same exercise, I noticed how a young woman of somewhat darker complexion and distinct physical features (she was later described to me as being “ethnically different”) positioned herself as far as possible from “the center of balance and harmony”; now, she did not share why, so I have no way of “knowing” what her behavior actually meant for her. But I was left wondering…

The most powerful indication of the relevance and need for this work at the professional, institutional and cross-cultural levels, however, came from an exchange I had with a participant in my workshop, a professor of history of culture and East/West dialogue, who maintained that a major US problem is that the government has refused to deal strongly with immigrants, while suggested it needed to close its borders; somehow I gathered she was not talking about Russian and European immigrants, but Mexicans and other Latin Americans. Again, not all that different from my experiences in the US.

In my various conversations with folks throughout the week, there was no mention of the increase in racial discrimination and violence (as per the SOVA Center for Information and Analysis 2007 report on racism, hate crime and nationalism), though it was acknowledged by one of my hosts as he showed me his beloved city of St. Petersburg on my final day there. In various social contexts, gender dynamics seemed obvious to me; homophobia was barely mentioned, and then only brought up by an Israeli colleague and new friend. Again, similar to my experiences here in PR and in the US, except, perhaps, among people within the social movement circles in which I do much of my work.

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Lenin's Statue

For some reason, navigating these choppy waters between personal psycho-spiritual and the collective socio-political is the challenge that I seem to have chosen — or, I should say, the challenge that seems to have chosen me. In the coming months, I’ll be addressing these issues in another direction: among social activists who tend to work almost exclusively on group identity and collective level issues at the expense of the personal psychological and/or the spiritual. We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I continue working to bring this integral approach to more people in PR, the US and elsewhere. Beyond “introducing” consciousness-in-action as a framework for liberation and transformation, I will be training people in the process model, people who wish to develop useful applications in counseling, education, community organizing, and social movement building. Hopefully, funding for collaborations with other groups and organizations with similar purpose and integral vision will become available.

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Me in St. Petersburg

So, again, I want to express my deepest appreciation to conference coordinators Anna, Sergey, Irina, and Asya, to Tatiana, Marina, Yelena, and the other Marina, who served so selflessly as interpreters, to Harmony Institute co-founders Alexander Badkhen, Mark Pevzner, for their invitation to participate in the conference—and to all those that made it possible for me to make it there—to share with and learn from my Russian friends, and for the opportunity to add my contribution to this global movement still in the making. I deeply admire all the good work being done throughout Russia by Harmony Institute. And thank them so very much for making me feel so very welcomed in their beautiful country.

Consciousness-in-Action Around the World

earthThe last few months have been quite interesting: meeting people, making new friends, reconnecting with old ones, exploring possibilities for extending the work of consciousness-in-action around the world. Quite literally. Well, just about, anyway: developing relationships with colleagues and co-conspirators from Vancouver (British Columbia) to Hawai’i to Palmela (Portugal) to Salvador (Brazil) to Copenhagen (Denmark) to Amherst (MA) to Gainesville (FL) to San Juan (PR) to Greensboro (NC) to Washington (DC) to St. Petersburg (Russia) and back home again. This is not counting the many new friends from other places throughout Latin America, the US, Europe, and here in Puerto Rico that have joined my Consciousness-in-Action group on Facebook. [I haven’t been in touch with my Integral Without Borders friends from South Africa in a while, and don’t yet know anyone in Asia nor Oceania — which would then have made it around the whole world.]

It is quite exciting to hear from people who have read my book and are moved by it in some way. Even more so, to see how antiracism trainers weave my diagrams on internalized oppression into their workshops; to hear how university faculty use the book as required text in their graduate counseling and social work courses; or to work with activists to design retreats and organizing initiatives using the framework to inform their analysis and the process model to shape their vision. I am truly impressed, though frankly not surprised, by how this approach resonates with people in such different fields of endeavor and spheres of action.

Having just held the Consciousness-in-Action/Social Psychosynthesis workshop in Amherst a little over a week ago, I am especially pleased to have begun to make explicit some of the connections between these two approaches. In effect, I believe I was able to demonstrate that consciousness-in-action is consistent with Roberto Assagioli’s vision of Psychosynthesis applied to the social dimension. I expect to continue to develop these applications in the months and years to come.

By the way, those familiar with both Assagioli’s and Ken Wilber’s works will be interested in reading Integral Psychosynthesis, a paper written by Kenneth Sorensen, a psychotherapist in Denmark. English-reading psychosynthesists will also appreciate the repository of Assagioli’s papers in English on Kenneth’s site. Thank you, Kenneth, for your site and for your important contribution to the field. An American friend in Portugal told me your paper is circulating throughout Europe and hopefully it will get some attention in the US as well.

Soon I hope to be sharing news about my upcoming trip to Saint Petersburg, Russia, where I will be participating in the 2nd International Conference “Self and Other: The Sacred Space for Dialogue” sponsored by Harmony Institute of Psychotherapy & Counseling.

Within the conference’s theme of “diversity, difference and otherness,” I will be offering Social Identities, Culture, Self and Other: An Integral Transformative Perspective, a workshop/presentation based on my book. Here we will examine how social group identities—–racial, class, gender, cultural, nationality, etc.—–become internalized as “self,” how social power and cultural dynamics shape our relationships to “others,” and how consciousness-in-action can help transform how we dialogue across differences and effectively address issues of diversity.

The invitation to participate came out of my training and organizing among spiritual psychologists and Psychosynthesis psychotherapists and counselors interested in social transformation. Both the directors and staff of Harmony Institute in Russia and a couple of their private US sponsors have become familiar with my work over the past several years. My Russian friends are very interested in the relevance and potential applications of my integral process model to current realities in their country.

Meanwhile, I am very excited about the opportunity to visit Russia and present my model and the work of ilé to the international audience gathering there. I am also very curious about the issues and dynamics of oppression that are most evident there, including racism and recent racially motivated crime, and classism in a post-Marxist society.

So, stay tuned for this and other exciting developments I hope to be able to share in the coming weeks.

Social Psychosynthesis Workshop

On Sunday, March 22, I’ll be offering Social Psychosynthesis: An Invitation to Consciousness-in-Action, a one-day workshop. 

Psychosynthesis founder, Roberto Assagioli, pointed to the need to extend his work beyond the individual to the social dimension of life. In this workshop, I will share insights and applications of Psychosynthesis’ basic concepts and principles to consciousness-in-action, this integral approach to personal change and social transformation. 

Together we will examine: psychosocial aspects of the self; culture, power, and the “inner diversity” of social sub-personalities; and effective uses of consciousness and will toward integral personal well-being and collective development.

This workshop is intended for practitioners and students of Psychosynthesis as well as all other change agents interested in an integrative socio-psycho-spiritual approach to personal liberation, social justice, cultural transformation, and consciousness development.

The workshop will be held at The Synthesis Center in Amherst, MA, at a sliding scale fee of $125-200. To register, please contact The Synthesis Center, 274 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA, (413) 256-0772 or e-mail Pru Smith at prusmith@yahoo.com.

I look forward to seeing you there.