An Integral Journey is a unique way to find a source of energy and drive it into yourself, an exciting opportunity to disclose your own strengths to realize what used to seem to belong to the world of dreams only. What am I doing? What am I contributing to the world? What do I want? What am I capable of? Where am I going to? Where do I get the energy to transfer to the next level of action?
In the spring of 2012, in an effort to answer these questions, twelve successful Russian businessmen set out on a tour Hawaii – San-Francisco – Denver. For the Coach Institute of St. Petersburg and the international team of consultants and teachers to meet Ken Wilber, this was a second journey (the first one took place in 2011 http://integralleadershipreview.com/6397-international-integral-journey-with-coach-institute-russia).
Integral Journey is many-layered; it does not just take a person outside his comfort zone, but also “knocks him out” of the sphere of common perception of the world, himself and his activities. This is exactly what you need when you say: “I need a breakthrough”. The program of the Integral Journey was developed by an international team of experienced coaches, is supposed to help the participants clearly see their dreams at this stage of life and disclose a source of energy in themselves to fulfill these visions in successful business activities.
From April, 25th till May, 11th 2012 the members of the group lived and acted in an entirely new environment – outside the vision of the world they were used to. In 17 days the amplitude varied literally from an immersion into the ocean depths with dolphins to a hot air balloon ride high up in the sky, from the feeling of absolute solitude to the state of complete unity with the universe, from shaman knowledge and ancient traditions to international business processes. At each stage the participants were in for new challenges, and every time the immersion was deep, while the approach of the coaches was professional and the study was of high quality.
The journey started in Hawaii – in the most naturalistic part of the The Big Island, almost untouched by civilization. Here the participants were welcomed by Mike Bodkin – one of the most famous guides of Vision Quests in the world. The group made its way along a riverbed in jeeps to the very top of the Waipio Valley to meet shaman Kia. It was decided to pitch the base camp for the Vision Quest between two rivers. To do this the group had to wade the river. The Valley of Kings, where the camp is set, cherishes the memories of the tribes that once dwelt there.
The first part of Vision Quest is “Severance”. The goal of “Severance” is to leave behind everything that prevents you from moving forward, suppresses you, blocks your mind. This is the time and the place to perfect your intention. The Questers live in tents in the real jungle and study the ancient Indian practice of harmony with the nature – the Medicine Wheel. At this point the participants were scared by the forthcoming “Threshold”, but they were supported by their coaches. They kept on working. They let go and accepted. For the coaches and guides this was excellent practice for listening and moving in the stream. It is important to approach each participant in due time and support his determination. As Gloria, shaman Kia’s sister, once said: “Your job here is to form the image of the positive future. You must believe that everything is going to be all right. If you do not believe, you can’t be a leader”.
Early in the morning the group got ready to set out on the second stage of the Vision Qwest – “Threshold”. While the participants were standing in a circle listening to the last instructions of their coaches, it was raining hard. As soon as they took their places, the downpour finished.
“Threshold” is 24 hours of solitude, time between the worlds and time for regenesis. This is the time for a fast, a test for the spirit. Each participant got to his place of power and stayed there for a whole day – alone with nature. The meaning of “Threshold” is to find your new self, get a clear vision of the next phase of your life, get a source of power for new achievements, strengthen your intention. Everything, that surrounds a person in the place of power, works with him and for him – nature, the sky, the Earth. This stage, which seemed to have no end, was by far one of the most difficult ones, not only for the duration of “Integral Journey”, but outside it too.
The third stage of the Vision Quest is “Reincorporation”. The Questers got back to the camp and the people waiting for them. For some of them this was the most difficult part, but putting the vision into life requires courage, and no one gets through “Threshold” only for his own sake. Returning after 24 hours of absolute solitude, the Questers shared their impressions. These were very strong and deep experiences, powerful emotions revealing new sources of energy, strengthening the intention to move towards the goal. Each Quester shared his experiences with the others and makde his first step in the people’s world – but now in a new capacity.
To thank the Earth Mother the Questers weeded taro. In the roots they found prawns, rejoiced and got so involved that it was difficult to wait for everyone to finish his bed before leaving for lunch.
The intensive Vision Quest requires some rest. The group visited the Eco-home that the Paterson family has been building for already 2 years. The Patersons told the story of their cherished home. This is the project that realizes their dream. Here everything is calibrated to the smallest detail, and the house itself is the result of the activities of its owners – it is welcoming, intelligent, eco-friendly.
Here the Questers take a rest, talk about “Threshold”, answer the questions “What do I take along?”, “What will help me?”, “What promise do I give?” – and move further.
The next company of the Questers is dolphins. Swimming with a flock of dolphins in the open ocean is a new level of perception of the nature and your own place in it. The dolphins communicatewith one another and the people, plunging them into love and peace. There was no fear any more, there was only water and your new self.
Later, on land, a part of the group danced the Hula. It is a dance that reveals love to your own self, to the world and all living things. Now all felt refreshed and ready for the next phase of the Integral Journey.
San Francisco, the land of the Silicon Valley, is a sharp contrast with the Valley of Kings. This bustling financial center of the West Coast and a major California tourist center has a developed considerable infrastructure and is full of skyscrapers, cars, urban activity. This is where you expect to find yourself the least after the jungle.
Here the group went around the city. Then, they met to start brainstorming on creating world-class businesses – a series of master classes, which focused on creation of successful world-class businesses. This is not just networking with foreign experts, but also individual work with a coach to implement the received ideas into practical solutions for your company.
The first seminar “Leadership Voice and Essential Compass” was conducted by a coach and a dramatics teacher, Shari Carlson. She used to train elephants; now her work is connected with singing. Her task is to create a tool for centering and recognition of your important elements, an ability to connect with them, build dialogues. Shari says that she creates the glass; she does not fill it with liquid. In December 2012, the Coach Institute has arranged a seminar of Shari Carlson in Saint Petersburg.
During Philipp Guzenuk’s seminar, “Happiness with Activity”, the participant together with the coach answer such questions as “How to get energy, drive and satisfaction from work?”, “How to avoid professional burnout, emotional pressure and stress?”, “How to relay your own attitude towards work to your team?”, “How to make happiness with activity a part of the company’s culture?”
Together with their American colleagues the group mastered seven sources of energy in work and exchanged best practices and real cases of turning work into a source of energy for yourself, your management team and the company on the whole. A member of Institute of Noetic Sciences Board of Directors, Richard Bishop, spoke on the future of the planet. Modern managers resemble Formula-1 pilots – they are accurate and precise, extremely efficient, but they are loners. Their whole energy and interests aim at winning in their particular “sport”. And for them money is just the score in their big game (racing). In fact, the world is being ruled by such people at the moment. There are no companies on the global level that apply the win-win strategy. But Richard was optimistic. He hopes for the best and refers to the history of evolution: only those species survive that aim at cooperation.
During the seminar, “Trends, Borders and Oceans”, the participants, together with the founder of the Coach Institute Alexander Savkin and Philipp Guzenuk, created the picture of the future, drew posters for each trend, collected them into panel pictures, discussed, and tuned in to themselves to live different lives and answer such questions as “What is important in the future?”, “Where am I going?”, “What is in my way?”
During the seminar, “Crises Are a Resource for Growth,” the participants, together with the co-founder of the Coach Institute, Marina Danilova, investigated crises and their trends. They worked out parallels between world and personal crises, transformation points. They discussed how to turn crises into a source of new inspiration and growth for oneself and one’s company, work out strategies that yield maximum results.
The main leitmotif of the seminar was that crises are natural and are sources of growth, if perceived with awareness. Here you get the feeling of “security”, understanding of a new attitude to the crisis, the new behavior in it. “It is important to be open to what comes along. As long as you cling to the old way of life, it drags you down. When you let it go and start to hear the world around, there comes the transition”, said Marina Danilova.
A chance to rise above the issues of crises, trends, and the boundaries and look at them with a bird’s-eye view at dawn came with a hot air balloon ride. This is beyond earthly cares. Impressions from San Francisco were fixed at the winery Beaulieu Vineyard (BV). The group visited the Stanford University – a whole city built for people to get the knowledge they need. The final destination near San Francisco was the Redwood Forest, Muir Woods. Three-thousand-year-old sequoias are tall evergreens more than a hundred meters high. The participants were wandering the Redwood Forest, listening to it, embracing trees, inhaling and absorbing their energy.
Denver, built as a mining town in the times of the gold rush, is the capital of Colorado in the west of the USA. This is the final destination on the map of the Integral Journey 2012, and for many Questers, the most highly anticipated. This is the place of a meeting with the guide Ken Wilber. The American philosopher and writer, who developed the theory and practice of the integral approach, was well known to many participants of the journey by his books. Before meeting at a bookstore the group bought up all books by Ken for autographs. Everyone was preparing and discussing aloud the questions they wanted to ask Ken. The participants felt excited before the meeting.
They say that throughout his life Ken Wilber has regularly disclosed and voiced solutions to the most challenging tasks of modern science. The participants asked Ken what he was interested in at the moment, where he was moving to. Ken said that he had come to the understanding of how the western and eastern approaches to human development could combine. The experience of the last 30-40 years shows that they describe different lines of development – development of mind structures and development of mind states. “What you create,” Ken says, “depends on what level of development you are on, what conclusions you draw from the experience of different conditions.” Ken believes, one must develop in both directions in parallel.
Ken Wilber shared with the participants his observations of the current trends: “All world problems are becoming global and fatal. Take global warming as an example. Even if the two major nations, the USA and China, set out on solving it, they will fail, Ken thinks. The second trend is the increasing number of people with world centered, integral vision. To make a quantum leap and a transfer of the civilization to the next level of development it is enough if” only 10% of population has this kind of vision”.
The Integral Journey finished in Moscow on the 12th of May, 2012.
Each participant of the group had acquired deep experience of a new vision, while coaches and consultants got the experience of discovering incredible powers in others. Apart from fantastic adventures, new knowledge and states, deep emotions experienced in solitude and in communion, the result of the journey was the discovery of twelve sources of energy, which are already generating ideas.
The Saint Petersburg Coach Institute and its partners, an international team of consultants and teachers, plan on continuing to develop the practice of integral journeys. The problem, the team is focused on right now, is integral changes across entire industries. For example, there is an idea to arrange a similar journey for representatives of the Russian food industry – producers, agrarians, retailers, logisticians – to acquaint them with cutting-edge American technologies.
About the Author
Martina Danilova is the cofounder, managing partner of Coach Institute, coach-consultant, co-author of Russian first book about coaching, Coaching the Russian Way — Courage to Wish. She was the organizer of first International conference on coaching in 2002. In 2007 she was among the top three nominees for the title “Best trainer of the year in Russia”. Her main fields of activity: personal coaching and support, organizational consulting, coordination of consultants team work concerning conduct and support of integral development programs in organizations, development of methodology and technology of implementing changes in integral approach in companies, development and conducting of corporate and opened programs in different directions of business psychology,development and methodical support of coaches training program.