Posted by: Monkey | November 4, 2014

Spiritual Cross-Training


In an article a while back I documented the basics of a theory, called Integral theory, by philosopher and synthesist Ken Wilber. From the moment I discovered and began diving into this rich and nuanced way of looking at the world I have adopted Integral as a structural framework for the way I look at and compose my life. Integral, to me, is not a spiritual path rather it is a way of organising my worldview in relation to all aspects of life, which include and is largely guided by my spirituality. Having such an overarching framework within which to place the components that make up my life offers the opportunity to live with a very specific intentionality, my life has become increasingly spiritual as a result.

Spirituality, to me, is woven within the context of growth and development. As we grow and mature our access to the spiritual realms seems to become increasingly refined, textured and permeates our overall awareness. In a sense growing up is waking up, as stated by developmental researcher Terri O’Fallon. Growth is awakening is evolution and the universe seems to follow this natural impulse to increasing levels of sophistication and complexity. The universe unfolds holarchically through transcendence and inclusion with each layer of refinement building upon and enfolding the prior. Integral theory suggests that all aspects of the universe, including us, grows in this manner. Our awareness, our consciousness grows through increasing it’s capacity to take as object the constantly unfolding multi-layered reality which includes our own mind. What this means, to take as object, is gain choice around a particular behaviour, thought, feeling, awareness, etc. A simple example exists in a growing infant. Newborn human babies have no choice about urination. When the impulse to pee arises, the baby pees there is no thought about whether this is appropriate in the moment or not and of course we know this and as such do not condemn a baby for peeing in our face as we try to change them. At some point, however, the growing child gains an awareness of this impulse and discovers the ability to exercise their will on choosing when to pee and when not to. At first likely this is a comfort issue, as walking around with wet pants is probably pretty uncomfortable. Later, however, this becomes a social issue as we learn when and where it is ok to pee and when not.

This kind of growth occurs in us across all levels, from the physical learning of a new skill, to the creative learning of a musical instrument, to the self-awareness learning of our particular emotional reactive patterns, to sexual learning of how to have more choice around our own orgasms, etc.

Growth fascinates me. That we can grow is amazing, and that we can continue to grow possibly without limit is exciting. What is our potential?

Growth, to me, is a spiritual phenomena. This whole universe is growing towards something majestic and I believe it is possible to fully participate in that movement. The alternative is to be dragged along, unconscious and unaware and as such unable to experience the immensity of bliss that the great sages have spoken of as the nature of our illumined mind. I like to think of the universe as moving, like an unstoppable glacier down a mountain, towards the oneness that it once it came from. And if I am able to awaken enough awareness in my mind then the opportunity is to participate consciously in this eventual culmination of everything that is into one, or non-duality and I like to imagine this as a really fucking big orgasm.

So back to the point of this article. Often many of us might think of spiritual practice as that little moment in the day when we sit down on our meditation cushion, or perhaps when we attend a talk by a spiritual teacher, or any other such intentional practice we engage in. We might have ideas about what is and what isn’t spiritual practice. Some of us, however, may subscribe to the idea of life as a spiritual practice but what does that mean? Probably it means some form of being more conscious of our day to day activity. And I would agree that this fits a description of living a conscious life. What I have found though is that the Integral framework can bring a refined intentionality to all aspects of life and how they fit in to our overall growth, and as such our spirituality. This is what I think of as Spiritual Cross-Training. When we notice that spiritual practice isn’t confined to just meditation, or yoga, or tantra, etc. Rather, anything we approach in a way that grows our sophistication is spiritual. Anything.

This is where the Integral model comes in. This framework provides a structure for defining all components of existence into identifiable categories. By seeing these categories it has been possible for me to understand how to organise my life with an increasing degree of intentionality. I am able to place any activity I may engage with somewhere within this structure and as such map my own potential for growth. My life becomes spiritual because all activities fit somewhere within this map and as such I approach them with the intent to grow in complexity and awareness.

The Integral model is summarised as AQAL which stands for “all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, all types” and is about as abridged as possible to delineate the complex phenomena of this universe. The following series of articles is going to talk about how each of these areas: quadrants, levels, lines, states, and types can be used to bring increased awareness to the ways we engage our day-to-day existence and, I hope, accelerate your own growth and unfolding as the amazing and unique expression of universal consciousness that you are.



  1. Hey my name is Lynn. I have been on this spiritual path for almost 2yrs now and i have just very recently experienced a kundalini rising. Just felt an urge to ask if you could shed some light on this – and if you have felt this too? 🙂 looking forward to connecting with you

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