Geschichte

The early years

Before the association was founded, the first group sessions took place. The participants were the later board members and Andreas, the later president, was in the lead. None of us had any ambition to change the world – we were driven solely by our selfish need for a better life. I would say that this original, raw and egotistical motivation to practise was an advantage. It gave us a degree of pragmatism: we did not dwell on techniques and ideas that did not have an immediate effect – instead, we took what worked and ran our practice without compromise. The work we did in the group sessions, which mainly included shadow and body work, was intense and transformative; it interfered deeply with our psychic structures and revealed patterns and defense mechanisms that had been slumbering there for decades.
However, the group sessions were only a small part of our practice: most of the process took place outside the regular evenings, because we met almost daily during this time – there was no separation between personal relationships and group work, and this was quite deliberate: such a distinction leads to one taking on a certain role in practice and thus never having to show oneself completely. Thus, friendships and intimate relationships within the group were nothing unusual and often even a result of practice. After all, where can you get closer to another person than in this kind of group work?
Andreas' role was of great importance during this time. Not only had he already walked this path, but he was able to translate his personal experiences for each of us and thus help us resolve many personal dilemmas. Also, it was his absolutely uncompromising approach that showed us right from the start what was possible and how to get there – it laid the foundation for the way we would bring our work into the world.
Certain structures were already established at that time: From the very beginning we organised four retreats per year. For one week we would stay in a house somewhere in Switzerland and dedicate ourselves exclusively to practice. The effect of these intensive weeks can hardly be exaggerated. They brought us to our very limits – often one of us thought about throwing in the towel and going home. But trust in the process and in the group helped to overcome the crises and after each retreat we all returned to our lives more liberated and more easily.
Looking back, these years were something like the youth of our movement: they were more intense than anything we had ever experienced and welded us together more than any "normal" friendship did. At the same time, a strong impulse emerged within us to share the freedom we had gained with other people: At some point, the regular sessions seemed to us less like transformative consciousness work than simple self-indulgance, where we dealt exclusively with ourselves and our personal problems instead of devoting ourselves to something greater. 

 

Phase I: Association for Integral Life

It was during this time that we (not without the impulse of the group leader) decided to take our work more seriously and carry it out into the world. We had seen the deep personal growth it allowed and the discrepancy between what was possible among us and what we experienced when we lived in our normal environment was huge. For me personally, this step was not only taken solely out of goodwill and compassion, but also because of a great deal of frustration at the inauthenticity of my "normal" peers ( this motivation would later put me in some difficult situations).

On December 12, 2012 (the date was coincidence) we founded the Association for Integral Life based in Basel. Our course program had become more official and professional, but the top priority has remained our commitment to the truth. The result was a (very) slow growth of our movement: if someone new came to us, it took only a few weeks to decide whether he or she would stay. Many participants quickly decided against the practice and we never saw them again. Those who chose to stay spent the next years with us, often in close personal contact (a large part of them are still with us today). In contrast to most other groups of our kind, we always had very few "sporadic companions" who appear again and again for years, but never really decide.

During the six years that the association lasted, there were, besides the many beautiful and rewarding moments, also times in which we almost perished in the face of the challenges of our work. The balancing act between the uncompromising practice (which continued among us) and the completely normal daily business of an association that offers services, was immense. On the one hand, our first basic principle (which was also enshrined in the statutes) was that work should be fun and lack of joy is a sign that you are not on the right track – on the other hand, there was a lot of work that simply needed to be done. And in the end, the toilet doesn't care if the person who cleans it has fun doing it – it just needs to be cleaned. We all had to learn to deal with this paradox during that time and, although it is still not easy, I am happy about this period, which has not been about much more than our getting used to running an organization.

As far as our work was concerned, we gained a lot of experience during that time and refined our methods. We learned how to respond to a particular situation and find out what exactly it requires. I would say that we had built up an expertise in the field of consciousness work and especially shadow work that even today is unparalleled. But our deficits were elsewhere: although we were more than competent in our own field, we had no money and hardly any clients. The only way to pay the rent was with cross-subsidies. We soon realized that we had two problems: one was that our processes were not efficient enough (in the integral lingo one would say: our development in the right quadrants was lagging behind.) The second problem was that our work took place in a sector that was, from a financial point of view, very meagre: since we were always dealing with people who were in periods of transition, there was nothing to get from them. Also, we always adhered to the principle that money should not be the decisive factor when someone was looking for our help.

Thus, in the winter of 2015, the idea was born to bring our experience in the field of consciousness work into an area which, firstly, needed it bitterly and, secondly, was well-off. Under the name IntegralWorks, we began to explore the business sector and launched our first product: the poster Stages of the Self, which shows personal development from infancy to the Integral Stages and explains the connections between different parts of the personality. We rented a space in the Walzwerk in Münchenstein and started to build up and furnish our office and other facilities there.

As far as our work was concerned, we gained a lot of experience during that time and refined our methods. We learned how to respond to a particular situation and find out what exactly it requires. I would say that we had built up an expertise in the field of consciousness work and especially shadow work that even today is unparalleled. But our deficits were elsewhere: although we were more than competent in our own field, we had no money and hardly any clients. The only way to pay the rent was with cross-subsidies. We soon realized that we had two problems: one was that our processes were not efficient enough (in the integral lingo one would say: our development in the right quadrants was lagging behind.) The second problem was that our work took place in a sector that was, from a financial point of view, very meagre: since we were always dealing with people who were in periods of transition, there was nothing to get from them. Also, we always adhered to the principle that money should not be the decisive factor when someone was looking for our help.
Thus, in the winter of 2015, the idea was born to bring our experience in the field of consciousness work into an area which, firstly, needed it bitterly and, secondly, was well-off. Under the name IntegralWorks, we began to explore the business sector and launched our first product: the poster Stages of the Self, which shows personal development from infancy to the Integral Stages and explains the connections between different parts of the personality. We rented a space in the Walzwerk in Münchenstein and started to build up and furnish our office and other facilities there.

Phase II: IntegralCH & IntegralWorks

It was clear from the very beginning that IntegralWorks would be a company, a joint-stock company. At the end of 2017 it became clear that the obstacle was the association: only when the old structure had died could the new one be born. And so we dissolved the association in November 2017 (with a heavy heart).

During this time, we focused strongly on the establishment of the corporation and on laying down its basic structures. But since we wanted to continue our course offer, we needed a new container for it, because the company was not suitable. Simon, who is responsible, among other things, for our legal advice, brought into play the idea of a cooperative, which could be something like the parent organisation of the corporation. At the same time, it could provide the courses, seminars and retreats, bring out documentation and be something of a contact point for other integral organisations in Switzerland. In this context, it could also take the role of quality control in the Swiss integral scene and award a kind of label or certificate that ensures that where "integral" is written on it, it is also "integral" inside. We did not run out of ideas and so a registered cooperative with headquarters in Basel was created under the name Integral Schweiz or IntegralCH Genossenschaft, which now holds a share in the stock corporation.
So that's how we're set up now: With IntegralWorks we concentrate on tools and seminars in the areas of organizational structures, organizational culture and leadership competence; this work is important to us because organizations have a large leverage effect and small changes in this area can have large consequences. However, by our standards the work is rather "shallow", since it is not about digging deep into the psyche of the participants or leading them high in search of their true self. IntegralCH and the Integral Life project, on the other hand, do the kind of work that digs deep and reaches high, yet often only affects individuals and small groups.


We see a great urgency in our work: the integral stages of consciousness are at a critical point in their establishment. The pioneers have done their work – the paths have been explored and recorded. The number of " followers " is increasing and it is up to us to see that there are no obstacles in their way and at the same time that the paths on which they walk will not be trodden.
If you share this sense of urgency and would like to work with us – whether as a participant, member or collaborating organization – don't hesitate to contact us. We are looking forward to meeting you!

-Silas