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Integral Principle #3 – Learning is an Embodied Experience

The only subject is subjectivity. The idea that there are facts and a ‘real world’ as objective and external aspects of reality is an idea based on some disembodied assumptions (Lakoff & Johnson, 1999). Photo credit: Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0, by amy32080

by Brent Cameron

The world is in my experience. There is a very thin veil between what is inside and what is imagined as outside. From the outside looking in, the veil is a curtain that becomes impossible to see behind; however, from the inside looking out, the veil is the boundary between the integrated internal and external aspects of one’s experience. The metaset is the unconscious mind, the subset is the conscious mind and therefore the logic of the conscious mind cannot begin to understand the logic of the unconscious mind.

The Inner World

As a child I grew up with people who collectively ignored the inner world. The only thing that anyone paid attention to was the exterior, including what I looked like, my behaviors, what my actions looked like and how they affected others externally, rather than ‘on the inside.’ I was not asked what I felt, what I thought, what I cared about and most significantly what was important to me and what I wanted to learn or do.

This confused me, as it seemed to me that the world was a kind of exterior wrapping or container for my inner world, and I spent my days watching the flow between the inner and the outer. However, after years and years with no one paying any attention to my inner world, I gradually joined the club and ignored my inner world too.

It was finally when I graduated from university and realized that it had all been a mistake -that the inner world mattered – that I rejected my carefully planned and managed indoctrination and began my journey back inwards to rediscover my self again, to peek behind the curtain.

I would like to think that this avoidance of our inner worlds was a condition of the times, the 1950’s. However, even though I have engaged in many fields of understanding that involve access to our inner realms, the common condition in society seems to be to ignore our own and our children’s inner dimensions. When I start working with a new learners and begin asking questions about what they are experiencing inside, I still get the usual confused and bewildered looks that I got over 25 years ago.

Observing the Inner World

As an elder and mentor to parents in my workshops today, I am showing them how to observe and engage in the inner world of their children. This process of attunement is having wonderful results for the parents as it opens up new realms for conversation and deep relationship.

My own daughter was accessible and transparent to me. She was wide open and our conversations traveled in and outside of both her and me. We shared our thoughts, our feelings, our insights and nuances of meaning together. We explored our inner pictures, our inner dialogues, and even our dreams together. I wanted her to keep her inner world alive and vibrant and for her to be able to live her life true to her feelings and her deep sense of herself.

When I started Wondertree in 1983, I went in search of new technologies that could help me work with children on the inside with skill and training. I discovered the work of Dr. John Grinder who was lecturing in Vancouver on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. At the end of the evening I signed up for a 24-day practitioner training and began what was to become the foundation for my insights into human experience.

Reading the Inner World

Over the 24 days of training, I learned how to read the subjective world of the other, how to read behaviors and language patterns to discern what was going on in the inner neurological realms of another person, and of course myself. I learned that the fundamental constructs or modalities of thinking are images, auditory and kinesthetic sensations that blend together in combinations and sequences to construct virtually all of our thinking and inner processing of reality.

These insights allowed me to design conversations with my group of children so that I was able to understand their constructions of thought. I was therefore able to help them design optimal strategies for success on their own terms for anything that they were interested in learning and doing. Consequently, I was also able to help many children with so-called learning disabilities become aware of their own processes and to design ways of achieving results regardless of labels of exterior behaviors.

Brent Cameron, the founder of SelfDesign®, completed a doctorate at the University of British Columbia in 2010, submitting a dissertation entitled “SelfDesign®: An Inquiry Into Authentic Learning And Co-Inspiration.” (SelfDesign® is the precursor to Transformative Learning.)

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