I had worked with mindfulness for a couple of years when I realized that it is quite possible to sit on the cushion for forty years and still be a bit of a “shit” when you hop off! In other words, I don’t find that mindfulness or meditation alone is able to penetrate our delusions unless we actively seek for the practice to do so.
As a consequence, I was looking for something more rigorous. This is when I received an email from Ken Wilber, recommending the ultimate process for both spiritual and emotional development. This process is called Big Mind, its creator Zen Master Genpo Roshi.
I booked into the next workshop in Salt Lake City and continued to become a facilitator in the process as well as co-write the training program.
Big Mind provides a direct experience for cultivating awareness, compassion and limitless perspectives on oneself. Big Mind is based in Gestalt Psychology Voice Dialog and Buddhist Psychology. It can be used with an individual, couples, or groups.
Entering a Zendo from a MBSR, Mindful Eating, Self-Compassion and even Mindfully Based Corporate Training background was initially a bit of a chock.
Zen is rigorous, strict and from the perspective of what I saw not strong on compassion nor body based practices. As a consequence, I eventually discussed with Zen Master Genpo Roshi for me to go ahead with my version of Big Mind calling it Mindful Voice Integration (MVI) and bringing to the process body awareness and compassion.
For me it has been the most powerful experience in extending my mindfulness practice for growing up and waking up. I use it with myself almost every day, I am deeply grateful to Roshi for having shared this practice and grateful for being able to support others through this powerful profound consciousness process.
“Your task is not to seek for love but to find and eliminate every barrier that you have built internally against it.” – Rumi
What is Mindful Voice Integration?
MVI is a method of loosening the sense of self by getting to know aspects of the self and the various variations of the aspects. The process gives a strong sense of how contextual and fluid the self is.
Engaging with Mindful Voice Integration requires courage and ideally a foundation in mindfulness as that helps entering the process. Having said that I have found that it works powerfully with teenagers and children who have never heard of mindfulness.
There are two elements to the process a ‘growing up’ part and a ‘waking up’ part. The growing up is gaining insight into the elements of the self and how they operate. The waking up is engaging and experiencing the Non Dual or the Un-manifested. In this way Big Mind and MVI provide direct routes to the Non Dual.
Big Mind is proclaimed by Ken Wilber as; ‘the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism.’
He goes on to describe it as: ‘an astonishingly original, profound, and effective path for waking up, or seeing one’s True Nature’.
The foundation of the process is:
- You are perfect and yet there is room for improvement. Our true nature is kind and loving. Everyone has the capacity to realise this and embody it.
- The self is not a thing but a process ever changing and ultimately an illusion
- Knowing and being comfortable with not knowing and knowing.
- We are all students, no one is an expert. We are in this life process together and it’s constantly unfolding.
- There is no need to fix anything, it is enough to just be allowing, expressing and getting to know.
- We all have the world in a mini format within, including all extremes like hatred and greed as well as self-sacrificing generosity. It is when we don’t own these aspects of ourselves that things become or stay unhealthy.
- Through increased recognition of our inner voices we start to see thought as just thought rather than a truth.
- Each person has their own experience and that experience is correct as long as they are in voice.
“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
You can start the process by imagining yourself as a company. The company has many employees and no one knows their job title nor the job description, what the product is, who the CEO is, or what the vision or mission is.
At the same time each employee thinks that they are the one who should be in charge, and all the other employees are working for them.
The company is constantly changing, employees are being let go; new employees are being brought in. Overall there is a lack of awareness and clarity of employees and their roles.
The process of MVI is held with the principles of Mindfulness; non-judging, acceptance, allowing, curiosity and kindness. We imbue the exploration of getting to know the employees by these elements. It is also important to familiarize yourself with how the voices feel in the body, what sensations they generate, where they sit, etc. This helps you recognize them if and when they come visiting again.
Benefits of Mindful Voice Integration:
- Mindful Voice Integration provides a direct route to Satori or Awakening/ transcendence/enlightenment.
- There is no longer any fear of thoughts or feelings that arise as they are just greeted with kind curiosity.
- It pierces delusion like nothing else.
- It is uniting as we realise our sameness.
- It helps us detangle from the parts of the self that we are identified with while accessing unknown healthier parts.
- It is a meditative practice training both focus and awareness.
- The moment the voice is acknowledged and confirmed then we are no longer identified with the self. From this place though we can observe and have insight about the self/the company.
By exploring Big Mind we learn to be fully functioning human beings capable of acting from places of true insight and love. And this is what it’s all about. All the Buddhist practices—sitting, Big Mind, and so on—are skillful means, all for the purpose of building character, consciousness, and awareness so that our functioning is coming from wisdom and compassion. This is really the point. It’s the point of Zen, it’s the point of Buddhism, it’s the point of all the great religious and wisdom traditions I know. Genpo Merzel (Roshi)
“I have been freed from the self that pretends to be someone. And in becoming no one, I begin to live.” – T.S. Eliot