Feature Article: The LEADERSHIP of the HEART: Eagle’s flight through life experiences in the awakening of Integral Spain

Raquel Torrent

Raquel TorrentAmong the styles of guiding or directing people since the existence of humankind—and no matter whether we talk of political, academic or business leadership styles—we may find a very simple division or classification: Hard and Soft Leadership. I want to share in this space the journey of my own life, having in mind these two simple styles. One is the authority of the mind and the other is the leading of the heart.

My mother used to wake me up in the morning to the call of a sergeant’s trumpet. My father left the house when I became two years of age and the woman created a hard style of leading me into the jungles of life as a means of introducing me into discipline and structure. This hard style of my mother—distant, cold and rigid, blue meme we could say—encountered in my infancy many difficulties with my own red meme with which I used to react. On many occasions my own emotional and mental survival was in danger and therefore I also developed a healthy and sound relationship with beige and purple, following the Spyral Dynamics language. I remember having looked at my mother as a Tyrannosaurus Rex from which I had to flee for not being torn and devoured. This was the feeling when she was following me through the house to kick me because some stupid thing I had done. My relationship with the gods came from a need to have some certainty that something more than the norms and laws established by my mother and the rules and regulations, strictedness and expectancies of my school existed. My gods were the trees, the sun and the birds around my house that triumphantly sang all mornings and afternoons when I was going back and forth from my studies. My own leadership was undermined in the hard work of following no loving recommendations and mandatory commands.

My teenage years brought me the goal of money. I won the first prize of the class for being the best in English language. I won a trip to London. It was the first time I recognized that my own effort could bring me material goods and benefits. I strove to be the best of the class in most subjects. Apart from a good relationship with my self in order to survive, I had nice relationships with others always in terms of “you are the leader”. I assumed the role with pride. My own ego was growing big and healthy. The many lines of development I was granted from the beginning of my life—I say they are more gifts than achievements—offered me the possibility of been popular among teachers and students. I generally had a solution for almost everything. Even though I would be wrong, my enthusiasm and skills would show me to be apparently right and people used to believe in me. This was mainly due to the fact that my orange meme transcended to green, because it was not driven by the desire of personal goals or benefits but driven by the innocence of a real pure heart that wanted to help others. Nevertheless, the hard style of leadership received at home gave me an apparent appearance of authority and aloofness.

After several deep experiences in my private life with husband and child, my own mother and sister and my own path of spiritual encounter, I entered into second tier thinking, starting to really transcend the problems and conflicts of life with consciousness and wisdom. I deeply connected with the yellow meme and I created a whole deep and long professional curriculum from Psychology licensure and two masters degrees to the pioneering of the Transformation Game from Findhorn Foundation, as well as the Transpersonal and afterwards Integral approaches in Spain.

From yellow, I also glimpsed turquoise in many instances and therefore my social work started to flourish putting my green (where my heart clearly started to lead the path) into social service. I created several personal development groups (some of them completely free of charge as a service to the community) like Women’s, Poetry or Meditation groups. By that time I also learnt the different flavours of the heart. One is to act from the gut, that is, instinctively, which would be the Pre-personal heart with its reactions and impulses. The other way is to act from the flavour of the mental heart, what we could call the leadership of the mind or “personal activity” or “ego’s reign.” Further, I experienced actions from the spiritual heart or “actions of the HEART”, which is without a doubt the “transpersonal state”.

We could analyze this from the perspective of total development of a person (ontogenetics) or we could see it as the three different manners of acting in life in a given moment. From the above, we could suggest:

  • The first heart manifestation (Instinctive heart), from blue to green: Re- Actions A mixture or co-dependency among first heart and mind leadership;
  • The second heart manifestation (Spiritual heart), Second and Third tier: Conscious actions.

This is interesting to see, because if we can also recognize the synergy between these two styles of leadership and use of qualities. We can see that the qualities of the first heart are different from the qualities used in case of the ego reaction and also different from the qualities of the spiritual heart. Without a doubt there are qualities that are present in all three manners of action and therefore in the two styles of leadership.

Going with the flow of my spiritual heart, I met Ken Wilber through the “eating” of his book. I say this because I metaphorically ate it, phrase by phrase, word by word. It was like having finally found a soothing balm for my soul. I had been (like when John Rowan speaks of the second drawing of the oriental “Bull’s Taming”) going around and around after having seen the tail to the bull. You name it, I had been exploring Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Biofeedback, Gestalt groups, Family Constellations, Vipassana meditation, Aikido, Biodanza, Open Voice, Human Design, Tai-Chi and Yoga, Insight, Patchwork, and many other courses and seminars. After finding Ken Wilber, I felt a slowing down of the flow. It was like I had been in rapid waters and finally arrived to the calm waters of a lake. I rested in the joy of having arrived home, the home of the same consciousness, of the same touch, of the same flavour. He was speaking my talk in the same manner I would have expressed it and in the same heart I would have felt it. Sometimes I had to stop for a while after reading a paragraph to be able to swallow it through the whole system. It was so powerful! I had found my valid interlocutor.

I had a beautiful experience when I was 7 years old in which I was in the nun’s school singing with all the rest of the girls and nuns to Virgin Mary in the month of the flowers, the month of May. The church was white and golden, the same as the veils and tunics we all wore. There was an intense fragance of white lilies in the air. In the middle of the chanting, a ray of sun illuminated me directly on the face and I knew I belonged to that light. I was the same as that brightness. I felt ONE with the fulgency. My soul united with my Spirit forever more. I never felt alone. I had recognized and breathed my TRUE nature. I got the wisdom, more than the knowledge, that the higher comprehension that life as we know it is just a theater play, a temporal glimpse of an EYE. Everything became relative from that moment on. It was the deepest experience I’ve ever had, but when I read Ken Wilber, there was a second profound sensation regarding the intellect and the soul. Someone, somewhere, was feeling and thinking the same as I. If I was not alone in Heaven, I was not alone on Earth, either. Again, it was an experience of a spiritual nature.

For seven years I knocked on Ken’s door (through e-mails, letters and messages transported by people that knew him personally). Nothing. It was like the master that has the disciple waiting at the door of the temple. I kept on knocking. One day I received an answer at last. It was not very expressive, but at least it was an answer. There was some one at the other end. My soul interlocutor was a living human being.

While waiting for his answer, I had already gone to Germany to study Spiral Dynamics with Don Beck. I had read most of Ken’s books and I had created the Ken Wilber study group with as many as 30 people reading and commenting on Integral Vision. In order to spread Wilber’s ideas (that as I said are also my own in the heart and soul), I also started to write articles in a specialized magazine—a section of my own, “Ken Wilber section,” with fifty articles up to today, following more or less the sequence of Wilber I, II—up to now—Wilber VI?

Spain was in a situation in which the great effort of two important persons, Wilber’s editor and publisher—Agustín Paniker (nephew of the well known Raymond Panikkar) and his translator, David González-Raga—had created a market for Wilber fans. They had published about 14 books by Ken (now it is 21 books). As a result there were some people scattered around Spain who already knew the existance of an integral vision (without forgetting our Latin American brothers and sisters who benefit from the translations).

There was a need for gathering these people. The time was right when in 2003 I founded the Ist Ken Wilber International Conference, a two-day meeting at the Psychology Faculty of the Madrid Complutense University. We had 10 speakers and Ken was so kind as to send a welcome message for attendees. The second and third year was also celebrated at the same academic site with the participation of international speakers from Germany, Holland and Argentina. The first three years were a general presentation of Integral Theory and the fourth year was an integral experience in itself. We left the academic protection to be out with the people at the biggest municipal Centre of one of the oldest villages around Madrid. It had been the home of the most popular Spanish university of the XVth century founded by Cardinal Cisneros and was headquarters of the humanistic and Renaissance currents of thoughts of the time: Alcalá de Henares. We offered an integral experience with four quadrants, one in each corner of a room. Attendees could experience each of them as much as they pleased or stay only in one while enjoying what was happening there without interruption. These two days of practical experience were enhanced by the artistic participation of several performers who sang, danced and played crystal and metalic bowls. In this IV encounter we also offered a big (3 meters x 2 meters long) white pad of paper for people to write or draw whatever they wanted. A holographic painting was created during the two days as people could go anytime to express themselves with colors or designs. Ken always sent his greeting for the people. This fourth year was also the first that we decided to change the name of the conference as I was sure that Ken didn’t like the use of his name: we started to call them INTEGRAL CONFERENCES.

Meanwhile, I was (and still am) teaching an integral and transpersonal training course of two years about the evolution of energy (from the first polarity vibration to the anthropology, sociology, philosophy and psychology of human kind). This training helps people to understand and enjoy the reality of their individual experience, including the spiritual one, as well as the miracle of human interactions (from which we’ve developed so many materials on interpersonal love, sexuality, medicine, politics, architecture, concerts, parties and many other manifestations of humankind).

In 2005 I went to the United States in the middle of my own course to attend a seminar at the Integral Institute, thanks to Wilber who gave me a scholarship. The seminar was “Integral Life Practice”. In that time it was called “Integral Transformative Practice”. My students were so enthusiastic that I was going to meet with Ken. I asked them, “What could we give Ken as a present? I myself would like to give him a Spanish Integral Society”. They got very content and said, “Let’s do it!” Thanks to these students, we consciously filled the lower right quadrant of our lives by creating the “Spanish Integral Association” with an official number at the Ministry and met all the government requirements for such an enterprise. We created it as an NGO that is without a profit motive. We have now 46 members who pay a monthly fee to support the annual Conference and some other activities we offer. We give 10% of this income for humanitarian purposes like Red Cross or UNICEF. The Integral Conference IV in Alcalá de Henares had been organized under the name of the Spanish Integral Association as were the following ones.

Having in mind that we were creating a Spanish Association, we recognized that we were celebrating the Conferences only in Madrid. We decided to spread the integral voice to other provinces of Spain. Therefore, we decided to go to Catalunya. The Vth Conference was held at the Tibetan House of Barcelona. Many consider this to be the most important city of Spain. It was a real success with its more than 270 people attending. Ken Wilber talked on the phone with us for the first time in Spain for a whole hour in a ‘Questions & Answers’ session. It was a real deep experience for this reason and also because we wanted to support the people from Tibet and because we had waited so long for Ken’s Integral Spirituality which was launched during the Conference. This year, 2008, in its VIth edition, the Conference will have 13 speakers from several regions and countries. For example, Peter Merry will attend from Holland and we will have more time with Ken; he has offered us one and a half hours.

This will also be the year of my good-bye to my social outer experience linked to the Integral Leadership in Spain. I have decided to go ahead into an unknown world, deconstructing an image and an identity that I want to reconstruct from a different perspective now. The new angle of a new me. Maybe that way I’ll get closer to my real Self. As I leave the presidency of the Association by the beginning of next year, I recognize how this movement has to do with the leadership of my own spiritual heart which is taking me even further. And I obey.

No doubt that the reality of Spain is changing as is the rest of the world, apparently induced by the economic crisis that may result in a real change of paradigm. We are seeing on our television here how even the ads claim solidarity, inner consciousness and ecological sustainability. So, we could say that many people in Spain are becoming aware of the possibility of living with a higher state of mind. We are also about to see what changes will arise in the political scene of the United States. If Obama wins, the world will never be the same, this time positively speaking and not like in September 11th when the world changed forever, due to a devastating terrorist act. As Wilber says, Obama is integrally informed and that may change the planet or at least the Western world although we know, according to the butterfly effect, that at the end nothing is isolated. Integral Spain will continue, as I’m not the only one that loves Integral Theory or is following a leadership of the heart. So, in case you want to see how things are up to now in our Integral Association you may visit the website that we created (with workgroups and forums). We want to evolve it in order to make it sensible to the real changes in technology and in theoretical and practical fields, because as you know integral theory is an always fluent frame to recognize reality. So stay tuned—in all senses:

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Raquel Torrent is a psychologist, therapist and teacher. She is President of the Spanish Integral Association. She has b een an Integral/Transpersonal Therapist (Private consultation) since 1989. She was the founder of the Ken Wilber Study Group in Madrid (2001) and the Ken Wilber ‘s two days Seminar at the Psychology Faculty . Complutense University of Madrid (2003). She is an accredited Spiral Dynamics specialist (2001 with Don Beck).