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Namah Journal

Integral Health

Take the Integral Approach

James Anderson


To be integrated is to be centred round what makes us whole. The integral approach addresses the whole without losing mastery over every detail. It is our consciousness, dynamised by the psychic being, which facilitates this process. This necessitates round-the-clock practice and inner work.

No part of our being can be addressed, changed and healed in isolation. Everything has to be seen in context of the whole. We make a vain search if we seek to probe and rectify in isolation and detail. Our true quest is for unity and harmony so we must search the entity that makes us one. Every movement that arises inside us, whether positive or negative, is a consequence of multiple hidden causes. These causes are too numerous and muddled for the mind to process, organise and, if necessary, resolve. There needs to be more authentic control because otherwise everything inside us is but a chaotic stew. So how can one make sense of this turmoil?

The only way to take one’s life in a positive direction is to learn to integrate oneself. We need to find and bring forward our true integer. This is not the mind, although it might sometimes assist, for it only offers a stuttering, stop-start approach and provides no sustained and abiding solution. It really assists better when it does not interfere. It needs to become quiet and retreat to the background. When it becomes self-righteous and claims leadership over the entire vessel, it will never be assured of the full support of the rest of the crew. It can only maintain a fragile equilibrium over the vital and physical.

There has to be a movement from our entire being towards collaboration for the true leader to step forward. Our egoistic nature needs to grind out incredible amounts of effort in order to purify and elevate itself so that the true master, the psychic being, can come out of hiding. It alone can make our nature a homogenous sum. Our nature needs to change and it is only this entity that is capable of addressing the whole and every detail simultaneously. It changes all aspects of our being without relinquishing its mastery over the whole: it shows us the way to integration.

The first step is to orient ourselves inside and change the direction of our awareness. Our conditioning has determined the whole grain of our nature and we find our attention being constantly tugged onto the surface. We resist, with unending effort, the gravitational pull of the outer life. We need to see and feel what is inside. All our surface distortions originate from the inside so we have to dive down and see what is there. We all need to take this leap of faith. Something propitious has surely preceded this sudden spring from the dark. We need to know more. Little glints have come and we sense that there is something sublime inside the crusts of our nature. And so, by surrendering to it, slowly our consciousness begins to emerge out of its static awareness.

We plunge ourselves into this work and give ourselves to this concealed influence. We gradually build a relationship with this entity and and learn to work with it. The psychic being exists in a different dimension, although one accesses it by plunging deep inside the recesses of the heart. It is our only hope of true change. It offers the only way to iron out the creases of our nature.

Our torchlight

As soon as we surrender to this entity, our consciousness starts to become dynamic and active. It imparts light and knowledge. This divine consciousness, our unique torchlight, is a divine gift given to us all: it is our only instrument for self-perfection. It is also our means of integration; it is the executor of the psychic being. To activate it, we only have to connect with our Truth and then use it. The more we practise, the richer our experience becomes. The more we exercise this instrument, the more profound and lasting the change will be. It should not be left idle; we have to practise. Working with it should become a joy; it will bring us untold riches and happiness. It is our best instrument in life: we just have to nurture and be present with it.

However in reality, we move from light to shadow. We veer between dual states and if we identify with the shadow, every opportunity for progress will be gone. Whenever we abide in darkness, these wrong movements will appear; without vigilance, they tend to run rampant. We must be constantly open to the Light, remember it and offer ourselves to it. We must surrender to this Light: it is our very Truth. It is our way of integration. At the very least, there must be the tiniest thread that connects us to it! If the psychic influence is even faintly present, our watchfulness will remain intact and we will be alive to every movement that rises to the surface.

We have but a fraction of a second to respond in an aligned way. We have to keep the poise always and be ever-watchful; our consciousness cannot go to sleep:

“To be in this state of attentive observation, you must have, so to say, antennae everywhere, which are in constant contact with our true centre of consciousness (1).”

As soon as the movement rises to the surface, we catch it. We intercept it with our consciousness, nothing else. We don’t look for ‘good’ or ‘bad’: that is a mental conception. Everything must pass through the filter of this consciousness because everything is but a mixture. Every grain of our nature can be caught by this filter. There is nothing innately pure inside us, aside from our very source. It is a never-ending process and our work in action. The consciousness imparts a light; it is imbued with knowledge. It radiates the Truth and manifests the ‘true movement’. It dynamically changes all wrong movements to right.

At the same time, we give it to the Light. We offer it to what we truly are. It is a simultaneous process; Knowledge and offering arise together and with practice the fusion becomes spontaneous. When our knee-jerk reaction is to offer, we know we are treading the right path. This practice can be done at any time of the day. It is better not to delineate. It comes through effort but with practice the necessity for even effort will eventually desist.

Use mantra to reinforce your practice, better still japa. It is your own sacred word. For me, in Integral Yoga, it is only the Mother’s name. With persistence, japa will build a momentum of its own. Eventually the effort will diminish and merge with the consciousness that you carry all the time. It should not become mechanical but a continual, living and loving invocation. Make the japa a conscious habit and it will over time irrevocably dissolve all your negative and unconscious habits. Your consciousness will be so enriched by it! It acts in a uniquely integral way and works wonders on the physical consciousness. It can change the most obstinate enclaves of our nature, including even the physical mind1. It can become an indispensable tool for our self-integration.

The necessity for inner work

What we observe on the surface can easily be resolved. What lies in the open can be transformed. If we are conscious the action is immediate but there is also a necessity for more detailed inner work, which alone has the capacity to unearth the buried patterns that so impede our being. We need a magnifying glass to observe what is hidden inside us. We call for a clear channel with which to work and we find this channel in the body itself. There are so many hidden memories that are locked inside the crevices of our own body. So many traumatic patterns are stagnating inside but awaiting release. If they are not shown the light, they can rise up and create mischief at the slightest provocation. When we release these patterns from our body, our inner psychology is freed. So we work in and through our body to reach down and uncover the formations that lie buried underneath. The torchlight we use is always our consciousness. It brings these negative patterns out of their slumber and onto the surface. Once they show their face, they are dissolved and transformed.

We invoke the Mother’s Presence for this work and scan gradually from above the head right down to our feet which touch the earth. We don’t judge but simply look disinterestedly at what is there. Whatever appears comes beneath the gaze of our consciousness. We keep our station above and do not identify with what we see. However we immerse ourselves in the experience. We intensely feel it. We might feel a stab of pain or the occasional pang of bitterness, but we keep the integral poise, which is to be turned always to the Mother and indeed the psychic influence.

We are working with a descending Force too. This Force acts in unison with the radiating influence of the psychic being itself. If one has taken the integral path, we start to clearly feel this descent. From day one, when I first came to Pondicherry, I had felt this almost uncomfortable pressure at the top of my head. It was surely resistance that produced the discomfort but now it is one of the first things I try to open to as I arise each morning. It gives me the reassuring confirmation of ‘work in progress’.

However, we have to be careful. There is much greater surety if one works with the psychic. There are many forces (some misleading and inimical), that can descend and bring about your fall but if you sincerely call the Mother repeatedly before and throughout each sitting, the authentic Force, that of transformation, will always shine through. There is no greater safeguard and immunity than to cling to Her. It also makes the process truly dynamic because this Force integrates everything it touches. Integrality implies harmony and through this state, it is securely preparing your nature for the divine Work. It is infusing your whole being, through the portal of the body, with its transmuting presence.

Our nature is such that obstacles are inevitable. An almost dogged patience and persistence always assists. An unceasing aspiration is the foundation of all meaningful success. Nature cannot be changed overnight; vast tracts of conditioning have gone into its creation. Determination is the levy that we have to pay for long-term integration and change.

We always come back to our consciousness and any resistance the descent meets will eventually be overcome by the beams of its torchlight. So wherever the Force meets any distortion, knot or pain, something that arrests its flow, stop and hold your gaze on that point of the body. Just be present with the resistance and enquire gently why it is there. You can even do this out loud. An answer may spontaneously come. One may see an affliction but also a truth behind. Open yourself to receive this knowledge. If you disinterestedly enquire, the resolution and panacea will come. The culmination of this work is a saturation of divine Peace. It can be experienced as a downpour of Grace! This is how integration and harmony always bear fruit: never predictable but ever-inspiring in its many subtle hues…

The intensity of experience will vary but, in the integral context, practice should never be taken as a part-time activity. This poise of disinterested self-observation should be cemented into our daily life. If we are to be true instruments of the Divine, we must integrate ourselves. It is a mighty task which we should not accept for selfish ends but to radically elevate the consciousness of all humanity. The gauntlet has been handed over to us and we must hold onto it with an unceasing aspiration. Integration will always precede transformation.

“This then is truly the truth, you are upon earth for that, surely. All individual beings and all the little concentrations of consciousness were created to do this work. It is the very reason for existence: to be able to become fully conscious of a certain sum of vibrations representing an individual being and put order there and find one’s way and follow it (3).”


1. The Mother. The Collected Works of the Mother, Volume 4. 2nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust; 2003, p. 34.

2. The Mother. Mother’s Agenda, Volume 1 [English Translation]. Paris: Institut de Recherches Evolutives; 1979, p. 433.

3. The Mother Collected Works, Volume 5; 2003, p. 201.

James Anderson is a member of SAIIIHR and coordinating editor of NAMAH.

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