Let’s talk about the millennial mind: the new generations that we boomers are handing off the torch to. The heart and soul and mind of my work—whether it’s been dealing with addicts, their families and loved ones, or those of us who aren’t addicts but nevertheless suffer—has been transformation of the human body, mind, soul, and spirit through what is called Integral Practice. Integral practice is a meta practice (or group of practices) that exercises our bodies, stimulates our minds, heals our emotional lives, and includes a powerful spiritual practice that allows each of us to tap into the source of our own being.
What I think is so encouraging and inspiring about the new generations is that they have grown up with the knowledge and the technological platforms that make this grand and glorious path to health, vitality, self-actualization, and ultimately self-realization available to all. This potential and possibility has never, ever, in our long human history, been available to so many in such a deeply democratic and universal way.
To elucidate and illustrate: As far as the practice of the body goes, from the time I was a child to the present, I have seen the transformation of the bodies of athletes; our athletes are better, stronger, faster, and more skilled. Why is this? Because in the athletic world, we have come to understand how to practice like never before. And with the advent of the culture of gyms and athletic clubs that are now perhaps more numerous than theaters in our towns and cities, elite athletic training is available to everyone. It is also accepted and understood as a very good thing by the public at large as in, “Yeah, I work out. You don’t?”
As to the capacity of the mind, we now have virtually all the knowledge, literature, and art that our human family has ever produced available at the touch of our fingertips—through our computers, iPads, smartphones, etc. By and large, it is all there. And in turn, this democratic information revolution has led to an increase in information and science about almost everything, exploding so rapidly on the scene and in our minds that it is almost not quantifiable at this point.
In the capacity of emotional health, we have made tremendous progress in the last half-century. In psychology, the standard treatment for emotional suffering and trauma has gone from talking therapy (which, while useful, never really did the trick on a very deep level) to understanding that our traumas, negative stories about ourselves and reality, and unconscious wounds are carried in both our physical and subtle bodies, and if not released and transmuted somatically, lead to myriad pathologies and generations of suffering. We now have the technologies and understanding that we have to work with our brains, lean into the pain, and let the pain arise and release in the mirror and the purity of the witnessing self, which with a little bit of support, training, and the appropriate technology, all of us have access to.
In the realms of spiritual development, growth, and maturity, we now have access to all of the teachings of the great Wisdom Traditions that our human family has created over the millennia, as well as new technologies (such as iAwake Technologies of which I am the CEO) that allow anyone to experience deep meditation and spiritual practice from the get go—in other words, from the first time you use it.
So, the millennials are the first generation to have access to all of this from their youth onward. In my case, as a boomer, I didn’t start putting this all together till I was almost 50.
Another thing that we have learned about our evolutionary journey and transformational practice is that there are various stages and levels that we can and must work through on this journey. As a game designer once told me, the young people who have grown up playing computer games are completely geared to this kind of stage development, as almost every game has beginning levels and then works up through various stages of accomplishment and mastery. So it is with the game of self-mastery and conscious evolution. Having an understanding of our current level of development—as well as where we have come from, and where we are going—gives a whole new, multi-dimensional understanding of the work and also a very hopeful acknowledgment that if we keep working, we are going to continually be viewing ourselves from ever-higher altitudes of wisdom and perspective.
When we study the myriad of developmental maps that have been created from ancient times to the present, we see recurring patterns and similarities. Most basically, we see that things develop from very simple to very complex, as far as human development and evolution have gone over the millennia. And very interestingly, the most advanced and most current developmental models, such as Spiral Dynamics, show that the whole ethical and moral development of humanity collectively is recapitulated and seen in each person’s individual moral development.
Another intriguing thing to be noted when we study these developmental maps is that historically the earlier levels of moral and ethical development that came onto the scene a long time ago have dominated human culture and experience for a very long time. As we approach the present, it can be noted that new levels of moral and ethical development have begun to come online much more quickly. We see this reflected in our current technological revolutions, from Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone to our latest smartphones, such as iPhone 6S. All of this has come about in less than half a finger snap in historical and cosmological time. The technological revolution is expanding like a supernova and changing everything. And the revolution in human consciousness that is made possible by using these technologies is also expanding with the power, force, and energy of a psychic supernova.
Given that, what should we do? As anyone knows who has ever gotten a complicated new piece of technology, such as one’s first computer or smartphone, not only is it necessary to have the technology, but one must also learn how to skillfully use the technology. I’ve often quipped with my students that having a gym membership in your wallet will not do anything to increase your physical strength and vitality—you actually have to go to the gym and work out. It is the same thing with these new advances: we have to use our spiritual technologies, athletic technologies, emotional technologies, and intellectual technologies wisely and efficiently on an ongoing basis, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. Our practices, which we lump together under the title Integral Practice, also keep evolving and getting better, more efficient, and more powerful at the same rate our technologies are transforming and changing the world around us and our experience of the world.
Some might wring their hands and say this is a disaster—and that is one potential future. Not only is it a potential future, there are already brand new pathologies that have come online because of our evolutionary technology revolution, such as addiction to games, internet addiction, social media addiction, pornography addiction, etc. However, on the other side of the coin, with wise, disciplined, and skillful use, these same technologies can assist us in quickly evolving the perfectly appropriate consciousness that is needed in this time of rapid change and challenge that we are moving through as a human family.
So again, as the street person answers the tourist in New York City, who asks, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” “Practice, practice, practice.” And, I might add, practice wisely, practice compassionately, practice with a vision, and practice with passion and perseverance.