The word “Spirituality” can invoke a wide variety of meanings and emotions. Depending on your background, beliefs and opinions, it can mean anything. Are we talking about the deep core connection we feel the life we live? Or, some part of us separate from our physical bodies? Perhaps I’m just referring to some sort of New Age woo-woo?
It’s a word with many connotations. It has strong religious overtones for some, and for others, conversely, it is a watered down version of their world view that has no structure, finding god, without the need to adopt moral responsibility.
So as a point of reference on the blog, I think its important to find a working, or rather workable, definition.
We are not talking about “finding God”, as you as a reader may or not believe in God or gods, or in one of the almost infinite ways that story unfolds. Spirituality, as I’ve come to understand it is about the qualities we adopt when we come in contact with the unknown.
The word “Spirit” is derived from the Latin “espiritus”, meaning breath. It is the subtle, unseen, aspect of our being. In a time before the functions of the body and the elements were understood as well as they are today, the idea that there was a connection between breath and “Spirit” made sense. It is a connection present in both early Christian theology and in the meditative traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as earlier shamanic systems.
Breath connects us to life, it is necessary for life. Of all the body’s functions it is the most immediately interchangeable. If we share a space, the air I exhale is, at least in part, the air you inhale. It connects us to each other. That breath we exhale, we now know, is taken in by plants and converted back to oxygen for us to breath. During that conversion the plants nourish the soil, that ground creates nourishment that we may eat, and we then exhale to return the chemical gasses needed by the plants.
If we use this as a guide then, “Spirituality” must meet 2 conditions. First, it must enhance our life, it must be life affirming. Second, it must join us to each other and to the world around us.
Most religions, at their core, attempt to do these same things – provide a way of living, and a way of living in community. They also attempt a 3rd – to provide a way of seeing the world that makes our lives make sense in the face of the vast, unpredictable, unknown. So, culturally, at least at this present time and place in the history of our species, the religious meaning is often heavily implied in the word’s use.
In “Spirituality” there is no doctrine, catechism, or judgements. The 1st 2 conditions provide everything we need to see and see beyond our own self interest. The third is question, one we can answer through existing faiths, through science and existing world views, or through our own experiences.
So when I use the term “Spirituality”, in this or any other writing, I am using it in light of these three meanings simultaneously – it is a word that means (here at least) “A way of making sense of the unknown that is life affirming and consciously connected to the world around us.”
Half a job done is better than nothing at all.
One of the great challenges I see when clients are trying to develop new habits is the perfectionist mind set.
It seems we all want to be experts immediately. Or before we even begin we want the circumstances of our lives to be exactly right – the right about of time, the right atmosphere, the right amount of inspiration and energy.
Sure, one way to look at these challenges is to get into the psychology of it, but there is a much easier solution.
Just do something.
I have a friend who is an artist. Yet, he was constantly complaining that he was so exhausted after his day job that he couldn’t get his real work done. After some time spent encouraging him, discussing a career change, and countless other ways approaching the imbalance he felt, I decided to ask him what it was he was trying to create.
His passion shone thru as he discussed an elaborate series of work with love and thoughtful planning. There was one hitch though, it seemed he felt he should be able to do it all in one sitting.
Things take time.
Life does not always allow for distraction free environments where we can achieve our goal without interruption.
10 minutes a day on a project adds up to over an hour week. Those weeks add up to over 60 hours a year.
& here is the really interesting thing about spreading projects out over time. In all that space in-between the mind is still working on the problem – even if your not conscious of it.
So if you are overwhelmed and have a nagging project that never seems to get done, don’t wait till the timing is perfect. A page a day, a layer a day, makes it 100% more likely that you will get it done then if you keep waiting for the ideal conditions to get started.
As a Certified Master Integral Coach(tm) I’m often asked about my connection to Ken Wilbur and Integral Theory and my take on some of the criticism and challenges to Integral Theory and the Integral Community. My work through the certification and training offered by Integral Coaching Canada (ICC) was rigorous. Their program is heavily influenced by Integral Theory and is the only coaching program endorsed by the Integral Institute and Integral Life.
Before my training I had limited exposure to Ken Wilbur’s work and Integral in general. Although I studied (and continue to study) philosophy and related disciplines, I never engaged Wilbur’s work with any sense of academic rigor or sense of scientific analysis. So if this were a binary “true/not true” system I have nothing to say. Fortunately, the world is more nuanced.
What I found at ICC was a program focused on rigorously developing highly effective coaches, and although Integral Theory provides a large part of the framework, the focus within the program was on the practical application – the way in which coaches can use Wilbur’s AQAL to shape the developmental aspects of a clients program. AQAL (All Quadrants, All Levels…) refers to part of Wilbur’s theory, which when practically applied allows a coach to meet a client with a broader view of the client’s developmental needs and engage them within a language that honors their values and with an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
What Integral Coaching is able to offer, what its roots in Integral Theory provide, is a way in to the clients way of thinking and being in the world, and the tools to develop a map to guide them from where they think they are to where they really want to go. And unlike other tools like the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs, Integral is a system that is about more than a basic personality type. It is inclusive of the full range of the client’s experience, and consciousness – how we think, the language we use, the values we have and the aspects of our lives that we attend (or avoid) attending to.
Which is to say, I can’t speak for its validity as a developmental system from a scientific view point and I have seen its effectiveness with in the practical applications taught by Integral Coaching Canada(tm). One of the dangers of placing too much reliance on any one system, or any one person’s view, is that it will never be perfect (100% accurate). Language is a signifier, an arrow pointing toward something. It is never the thing itself. Systems, like Integral, which try to capture the infinite possibilities of thought and action into a container can only get so much right. In the end, whether by time, competition, or adaptation systems evolve and the framework and language they use becomes something else.
I have no opinion on Wilbur himself. I’ve never met the man, and while the bulk of criticism around the web seems to be reactionary to choices he has made in his personal life, the gurus he has supported (particularly Andrew Cohen and Adi Da) and the sense of how he holds himself apart from criticism, most (not all) of those critics still hold Integral Theory itself, with a sense respect and validity.
One of Integral’s great strengths is the idea of evolving consciousness. Evolution needs a catalyst, an the sunlight in an ecosystem that drives the need to change and adapt. It allows for the kind of awakening that leads to purposeful choices while maintaining that consciousness alone isn’t enough. We need our emotions, communities, morality, beliefs, unconscious, and physical bodies to join in if we are to evolve completely. Simply knowing something is not enough. If we do not attempt to embody it we never uncover the reality of it.
Personally, I’m wary of any system which chases some sense that enlightenment can only be attained by separating ourselves from the meat and chaos of living. So often ‘non-dual’ experiences are framed in the same sort of Cartesian language that places the spiritual or rational above the physical. An embodied non-dual is something entirely different than a transcended one.
Regardless of where an evolution of our consciousness or physical bodies may lead, we need to start where we are. Here, today, more likely than not, the consciousness you are applying to reading this is tied to some physical being that needs food and exercise and shelter. In some form or another you need to work to provide those things. You have dreams and desires, fears and doubts, that arise from the marriage of your consciousness and your physical body.
When our consciousness evolves every aspect of our lives should be moving along with it, including our physical bodies and our connection to the world around us.
As a coach what I can say is, its in that wet and dirty space where the real work gets done. Our thoughts, our breath, our energy, all add to the wonder of who we are and what we can do, and Integral can provide that compressive backbone for a whole body/whole life transformation.
Integral Coaching and Master Certified Integral Coach are Registered Trademarks of Integral Coaching Canada.
Personal financial management is something that often alludes the most focused and ambitious among us. Below is a very simply overview of some basic ideas I suggest to clients who are struggling with balancing their books. Its a method that should work for almost anyone. By way of disclaimer, I am not recommending any investments, and I am not a professionally licensed financial advisor – this article is only meant as an educational description of a method for creating a household budget.
I use a month as a basic unit, since most folk’s reoccurring costs (bills, rent or mortgage, etc…) are broken into monthly payments. It is easy to multiply it out for a year or break it up into 2 or 4 periods.
1st. it is essential to have a handle on your income. On a monthly basis, from one or multiple sources, you should be able to project your income.
On the top of a sheet of paper write the individual sources of your expected pay for the next full month. For Example:
- Full Time Job – Pay Period 1
- Full Time Job – Pay Period 2
- Misc. Income 1
- Misc. Income 2
- Investment Income
- Gifts, Etc…
Then tally them all up. This is your projected income for the month. It should be the limit of what you are able to spend in a given month.
EXPENSES, DEBT, & SAVINGS
I work with 3 categories of expenses – or draw downs on your income. The 1st I address is mainly set as goal – your savings. Its a piece of advice I picked up from the old book The Richest Man In Babylon, which says, “pay yourself 1st.” I suggest that 10% of every paycheck, every source of income, should be transferred to your savings.
Your savings are your most important financial obligation, and building that as a reserve creates opportunity for investment (additional income), and provides a protection for you if you lose employment or suffer any other financial hardships. This initial transfer to savings isn’t for spending on vacation or luxury items, it is meant to both create financial protection for yourself, and overtime to create wealth – through investing, etc…
It doesn’t matter if you are taking home $20,000 a week or $400. Setting that 10% aside adds up over time and can make a huge difference for your future.
If you plan to invest you should certainly consult with a professionally licensed investment advisor.
After setting aside the 10%, create a list your necessary monthly expenses. This should include your rent or mortgage, essential utility bills, and the like. I’d also add to this section a minimum food budget. Eating healthy, and feeding your family are essential expenses. I find starting with a daily dollar amount (per person per day) is the easiest. It should be fairly easy to feed 2 people for $20 per day, but some budgets are tighter and others have more room. Commuting costs, known medical costs, costs associated with your home, all fall into this bucket.
Below your essential expenses you should address your debt, if you have any. If you are in debt, finding a way to eliminate that expense should be a top priority. If you are in over your head there are people out there who can help, but I would recommend calling your creditor and seeing if you can arrange more favorable terms. If you are in debt, stop using your credit cards or borrowing money. Living on the income you have is facing the circumstances of your life.
After debt, create a list for your optional lifestyle expenses – cable, the gym, memberships and subscriptions, entertainment, luxury shopping, eating out – all the things you spend money on, but which are not essential to your ability to live with your basic needs met.
Tally these up – 10% to Savings, Essential Expenses, Debt Payments, non-essential Lifestyle Expenses. You now have your total expenses.
- 10% to Savings
- Essential Expenses
- Gas & Electric
- Auto & Gas
- Lifestyle Expenses
- Luxury Shopping
- Eating Out
TOTALS & REMAINDERS
Subtract your Total Expenses from your Income. If the remainder is positive, great! I’d suggest setting additional money aside for savings, paying down additional debt, starting a vacation or holiday fund, or going out and having some fun.
If your Expenses exceed your Income its time to make a change. If you have no means of raising your income, you better buckle down. Minimizing Lifestyle Expenses, working out payment plans with creditors, and finding ways to minimize or shrink Essential Expenses can now be done, line by line on your budget.
- Total Income
- minus Total Expense
A NOTE ON SAVINGS
The 10% transferred to Savings from the start is meant to serve as a Reserve – money that is there when you need it. Unforeseen medical expenses, home or auto repairs, it is there to help when your income or essentials are negatively impacted.
When your Income is higher than your Expenses you have additional money to work with. For some people thinking about their long-term future the majority of this money will be used for retirement planning or children’s education. For others this money might be set aside for a vacation or special purchase. If you have debt it may make sense for you to pay down additional principal, reducing your monthly debt service obligation.
“What is a ‘life coach’” and “why would I need one?” are two questions I get asked frequently. They are not always the easiest questions to answer.
What is a ‘life coach’?
There so many life coaches out there trained in techniques ranging from purely task orientated accountability to energetic vision realization. Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra, Ken Wilbur are among the thought leaders that many coaching schools are build their systems on. Life coaches also often have a broad range of life experiences and work history that bring them to focus on certain area of expertise, such as fitness, career, or weight-loss, or marketing, executive, or sales.
In a broad sense a life coach is someone who has experience with tools that can help you overcome the obstacles and challenges that keep you from really living the life you want to be living. We encourage, inspire and provide an outside perspective that can help you see your situation in new ways.
Coaches help clients with everything from health issues, relationships, and career choices to finding greater meaning and purpose in their lives.
A good life coach will support and inspire you through major life changes – to get the job or loose the weight. A great coach will change the way you see your self and your life, opening up possibilities that seem closed and help you develop skills that change the way you live.
Why Would I Need a Life Coach?
If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution there is a good chance you have broken a promise to yourself. A promise based in the idea that “if only I did _____, then I would have (or be) _____.”
Everyone does this at some time in their life. There is something we want to be different in our external world, a practice we want to engage in, or an internal change we want to make around our confidence, happiness or sense of self worth. We identify the change we want to make and develop a plan. We may even get a good start. Then eventually the healthy choices get crowded out and we find some distraction or excuse to move ahead. Discouraged, the promise we made to ourselves seems to dissipate, until it becomes important again, and the cycle repeats itself.
This is really a difficult and dangerous place to be. Not keeping the promises we make to ourselves can add up overtime. We begin to think our dreams and goals are less important than the everyday tasks. Life becomes a kind of daily drudgery, with moments of happiness, sure, but the dreams we have and the things we love to do fade into the background.
Deep inside each of us we have sense of how we really want to be living. For one reason or another we have lost the belief it is possible. And while everyone cannot be a rock star or starting quarterback it does not mean that music or sport can’t be a part of your life in a way that inspires or engages you with a greater sense of purpose, living a life closer to your image of who you are.
Find out more and see if we can’t open the door to that inner voice a crack with a free one-on-one session.
What is coaching?
Coaching, as opposed to other forms of counseling, sets its primary focus helping you make the changes that are keeping you from the life you want to be living and supporting you as you move into the future you really desire.
What kind of coaching do you offer?
As a Certified Master Integral Coach™, I primarily offer the powerful and effective method taught by Integral Coaching Canada™. Integral Coaching(tm) focuses on the development of the client as a whole person. Based on Integral Theory as developed my Ken Wilbur, Spiral Dynamics, and eastern practices, Integral Coaching ™ is designed to provide the the coach with tools support the client in taking a whole, holistic approach to making the changes and accomplishing the goals they set out to achieve.
Additionally, and informed by my training at Integral Coaching Canada™, I have been trained in other coaching methods at iPec and NYU, yoga and meditation (200-hour certification) at ISHTA yoga in Manhattan, and have apprenticed in mythopoetic and men’s work with the staff at Quest for Vision. I offer the more traditional 45 minute “as you need them” sessions, I call “One-to-One” coaching, customized personal or group retreats, and seminars, along with other structures for individuals and organizations to envision, examine, change and commit to the future they want to move toward.
You can find more information in the About section of this website.
What are Integral Coaching and Integral Theory?
Integral Theory is a developmental model developed by American philosopher, Ken Wilbur. The theory is an attempt to create an integrated “theory of everything” in so far as human consciousness is concerned. Though the theory has its detractors, the practical application developed by Integral Coaching Canada ™, creates a framework for coaching based on Integral Theory that allows for a broader developmental arch for the coach to support clients in their goals in a way that is truly sustainable. Longterm reliance on a coach for motivation and change can be helpful, but the Integral Coaching ™ method goes beyond the goal and challenge toward effecting real change within you.
Who are your typical clients?
I work with clients from a wide variety of backgrounds, both individual and organizational. While many coaches focus on a specific clientele, I believe the methods I have learned and depth of my experience provide me with the tools to serve a broad spectrum of clients.
With that said, a large portion of my client base has been composed of:
- Artists, writers and musicians;
- Small to medium size consumer driven businesses;
- Clients looking for purpose, vision, and a sense of mission, and applying it;
- And, men and women struggling with chronic conditions, like pain or depression, looking for a way to improve their quality of life while undergoing treatment.
How is coaching different from therapy? Is coaching a replacement for therapy?
Coaching is not a replacement for other forms of therapy, psychotherapy or medical treatment, though it may be useful in connection with therapeutic work. One way of description might be that while therapeutic work focuses on getting a patient from dysfunctional to functional, coaching focuses on getting a client from functional to highly functional.
As a coach, I am not a doctor, therapist, or social worker. If you feel you need help of that nature, it would benefit you to resolve those issues before pursuing a coaching relationship.
How do you work with clients that don’t live locally?
Skype or other video conferencing technology provides a good tool for connecting with clients I cannot meet with on a regular basis. Telephone calls also provide an alternative, though the face-to-face of a video call is preferred.
Is coaching overseen by state or federal government?
Unlike therapy, coaching currently has no licensing procedure in the United States. The “governing body” for coaches is the International Coaching Federation which provides accreditation of coaching schools and provides credentials based on the coaches experience and education.
Do you offer payment plans, discounts or sliding-scale pricing?
While my coaching prices are, for the most part, fixed, I believe my rates are fair. I reserve a few time slots for clients working on creative or philanthropic projects and for clients dealing with chronic conditions that I price on a sliding scale. I maintain 1 slot weekly for a client with severe economic restrictions at a minimum cost.
I currently provide coaching for some of Circles of Air and Stone’s programs and extend a discount for clients who have been through any of Circles of Air and Stone’s programs or vision quests within the prior 18 months.
I also provide coaching services through the office of Dr. Manevitz/TMS Associates of NY, based on a pre-determined sliding scale.
Additionally, I offer package discounts based on the length, time and topic you want to cover. With few exceptions payment is due before our session. Email me for more information on rates and current waiting list information for sliding-scale coaching.
What is your cancelation policy? What happens if I miss a session?
I ask clients to agree to a minimum 24-hour cancelation policy. Generally, payment for a session is due at the time of the session, unless other arrangements have been made. If you miss a session or cancel within 24 hours payment may be forfeit and non-refundable.
You speak about living in-line with your values. Are you pushing some kind of moral agenda?
I honestly believe that regardless of our system of beliefs, our faith or religion, our social status or political party, that when we are awake to the daily life we live and the ideas we hold about our place in the world and can bring those into alignment its not just our own lives that are changed. When our values, our beliefs, our work and personal lives, how we act in day-to-day life, are aligned we improve the quality of our lives, impact the world around us, the people we meet, and the work we do.
Whether you are a Christian Republican, a Democratic Capitalist or an Anarchist Atheist, unless you are among a small subset of really awake people, there is some aspect of your life where your beliefs, choices and actions are out of alignment. My agenda, if I have one, is that I believe the experiences of our lives need to inform our values and beliefs, just as our beliefs and values should be the motivators of our actions. What we take in and what we give away is a conversation. The more we are conscious of it, the more vibrant and impactful we can become. A world people awake to how they act in the world and why sounds good to me. If you want live your values every moment, taking in their impact on the world around you and on yourself, I’m the guy to help you do that.