Frequently Asked Questions


What does the name “Integral Deep Listening” mean?

Normally we don’t listen; while people talk we are thinking about what we are going to say next.

When we do listen it is generally to “roof brain chatter” – the endless routine of repetitive, predictable worries, doubts, confusions, or problems – in a way that solves nothing and keeps us stuck in drama, depression, and anxiety. This is as true for meditation and lucid dreaming as it is for normal waking life.

Deep” listening is not merely the suspension of thinking about what you are going to say next. It is also listening to the subtext beneath “roof brain chatter.” That subtext is not the same subtext as the emotional and cognitive framings and implications of what is said, as is generally understood by psychotherapists. The subtexts addressed by integral deep listening are the priorities of life that are attempting to be born within you. These are called “emerging potentials” and they are absolutely essential if you want to align your personal goals and life agenda with that of life itself. IDL does so by interviewing emerging potentials, as personified by your dream characters and the personifications of those life issues most important to you. IDL teaches you to practice integral and deep listening not only to what interviewed emerging potentials say, but listening and paying attention to their perspective and presence, what they “feel” like. This listening is about integrating an expanded identity into your everyday sense of self, to carry it into your dreams, your lucid dreams and your meditation. It is about demonstrating not only listening but respect by implementing those recommendations you receive from interviewed emerging potentials that make sense to you.

IDL is Integral  in that it aligns itself with Ken Wilber’s integral AQAL model that addresses all levels, lines, states, quadrants, and types. For more on AQAL, go here.

What is an “emerging potential?”

We are used to thinking of dream characters as symbols, parts of ourselves, or spirits. Like all phenomenological methodologies, IDL suspends such assumptions and instead focuses on the function of both interviewed dream characters and the personifications of life issues. Each expresses a unique perspective which, when identified with, represents different emerging potentials – developmental capabilities that you were not previously fully aware of, that are being drawn to your attention, born into your awareness, and which potentially you can become more fully and regularly.

What does “phenomenological methodology” mean?

Phenomenological methods suspend normal and common assumptions about what is true, good, and real in favor of simple, impartial observation. This type of observation is central to what it means to “deeply listen.” Most people and methods do not do this. They start with assumptions about what is true, good, and real and evaluate whatever happens and whomever they meet in terms of those standards. Phenomenological methods are injunctive and empirical: like yogas, they offer instructions, require discipline and accountability.

What is my “life compass?” 

When you interview a number of emerging potentials you will find that there is a repetition or consensus among them regarding various recommendations. These represent shared priorities for your development. Rather than an interior space or entity, think of your life compass as a constantly growing set of life priorities that are central to your health, well-being, and growth. These do not belong to “you;” instead, they are potentials that are attempting to be born within you. Whether they are or not and to what degree, is determined by your ability to deeply listen to them in an integral way.

How is Integral Deep Listening a dream yoga?

A “yoga” is a psychospiritual discipline whose purpose is integration or oneness. Most dream yogas focus on learning to be lucid while dreaming, that is, aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. They then go on to make recommendations about how to stay lucid and what to do or not do during lucid dreams. IDL focuses on lucid living, that is, to wake you up out of the dreamlike delusions of your waking life while strengthening your waking, dreaming and meditative lucidity. These are priorities because even if you wake up in your dreams, you will still perceive the dream from the point of view of your present deluded consciousness. IDL demonstrates that the more that you become lucid in your waking life the more likely you are to recognize and counteract delusion in any state of consciousness, including dreaming and lucid dreaming.

Is IDL therapy, coaching, or education? 

IDL is education that coaches and therapists, along with parents and children, can use and teach. IDL coaches, practitioners and teachers are essentially teachers, not therapists or coaches, and those who receive interviews and practice IDL are essentially students, not patients, clients, or customers.  IDL invites everyone to combine their talents, system of belief, and areas of expertise with IDL. There is no hierarchy in IDL and everyone has equal access to life and can contribute understandings that broaden what IDL is.

What makes IDL empirical? 

As mentioned above, an empirical method has three parts: instructions, practice, and validation. For example, the scientific method says, “Here is the experimental design; follow it. Submit your findings to peers in the method for validation.” IDL and all yogas and even cooking use this model. IDL says, “Interview emerging potentials and follow those recommendations that make sense to you. Operationalize them so they can be measured. Submit your results to peers, the court of public opinion, and your own common sense.” Like empirical methods, IDL encourages doubt, skepticism and testing rather than simple belief.

What makes IDL a path to lasting transpersonal consciousness?

“Transpersonal” means to be awake in ways that transcend but include any sense of self. There is no “real” you, but you contain multiple “yous” of greater or lesser reality.

To be transpersonal, a practice must do two things. First, it needs to create stable stage development rather than temporary state expansion. Almost anything, from psychological catharsis, hypnosis, love, altar calls, to lucid dreaming, psychic, mystical, near death and shamanic experiences create temporary state expansion. These provide important and potentially transformative glimpses into the four stages of the transpersonal (energic, subtle, causal and non-dual), but they are not permanent, stable, ongoing transformations to higher stages of development. They are temporary. You access them and then fall back into your everyday worldview and state of mind. In IDL interviewing, when you become an emerging potential, you may experience such a temporary state transformation; they are typical, and they are important, but they are not lasting transpersonal consciousness. In IDL, permanent higher stage access, that is permanent lucidity, awakening and enlightenment is achieved through continuous re-emersion and application of those recommendations that make sense to you.

The second thing a practice must do in order to be worthy of the title “transpersonal” is transcend and include both belief and reason. While almost all practices claim to do this, on close observation, few do. Openings that are devotional or psychic, including most mystical experiences, are pre-rational because they do not require reason. Children and criminals can have them. Openings by scientists like Einstein or by thorough-going humanists like Orwell or Kafka may be extremely valuable and extraordinarily rational, but are not transpersonal unless they are permanent. Meditation does not have to be but can indeed be a transpersonal tool, because it can create permanent stage development in clarity, self-definition and other core qualities of enlightenment, and because it can transcend both belief and reason as a trans-rational, trans-personal experiential process.

IDL is transpersonal in both ways. It accesses stable development to higher stages of lucidity, clarity, awakening and enlightenment. It is a yoga, or injunctive method, that, when followed, transcends both belief and reason. It transcends belief through its phenomenological methodology of suspending belief, and it transcends reason by accessing perspectives that are both rational and represent beliefs, but which transcend and include both. These perspectives are not personal – they have no permanent identity – and they are neither irrational nor purely rational. They are trans-rational. They are often absurd, such as transpersonal dog slobber, and often riotously funny, but beneath that they are rational. Therefore, while they may appear ridiculous they cannot be dismissed as irrational, because they clearly and obviously are not. Note that most yogas do not meet both of these criteria, although they often provide important state openings to the transpersonal, like kundalini yoga, or a solid foundation on some lower developmental stage, as hatha yoga does. Similarly, meditation used for stress management or for accessing some specific state of consciousness, such as bliss, does not either.

It is often easiest to understand a new area by comparing it to fields one is already familiar with. There are a number of essays here that compare IDL to various psychological, religious and philosophical traditions.