Sergej van Middendorp
How is your integral life praxis, Sergej?
I started my integral life practice after reading A theory of everything and Integral spirituality in 2006. I ordered the ILP Starter Kit and immersed myself in all the practices and rich materials in there. In 2008, I enrolled in Fielding’s PhD program, and combining scholarly work with the developments in our small enterprise PerfectArch / Coena is what constitutes my current mind work. I use action Inquiry and a communication theory called the Coordinated Management of Meaning to practice balancing action and inquiry in the moment. The conceptual metaphor that I am embodying is that of Jazz Improvisation. In working with Jazz musicians in organizational contexts over the past seven years, I have grown my attentive presence in the moment and have learned to embrace uncertainty and imperfection. My shadow work has moved from Diane Hamilton’s 321 work to Past Reality Integration, a therapy and method developed by psychologist Ingeborg Bosch. And in addition to my 3 body exercise and running (which I need to pick up on again! 😉 I am currently exploring Jean Houston’s Possible Human. Over the years, I am finding that ever more seems to be possible in each moment.
What is Cosmopolitan Communication for you? How did you experience it?
I learned about Cosmopolitan Communication from Barnett Pearce. Cosmopolitan communication is a form of communication that helps people with different, even incommensurate social realities to coordinate their actions to produce wise outcomes. For me, cosmopolitan communication is exemplified in jazz music as a force of global consciousness. Jazz music integrates the oldest rhythms from our African ancestry, it incorporates the pain and suffering of human slave trade and the courageous spirituals that helped live its inherent suffering. It reflects the hybridization of cultures coming together. It grew out to be the unique art form of America, and now through its fusions and disseminations around the world it is an integrative force of what Paul Austerlitz names global jazz consciousness.I was fortunate to experience these forces of jazz myself. Inspired by the work of Frank Barrett I started working with a band in The Netherlands. We created experiences based on principles from jazz and we helped groups in large organizations explore how the experience and principles of jazz would apply to their challenges. After a few years of practice, we discovered that we were able to experience a new form of communication with our participants. Towards the end of a workshop, the real issues that were percolating under the surface of the collective consciousness of a group would emerge, often in the form of an awkward question. By feeling into the situations and by improvising a musical form that attended to the concerns and curiosities embodied in those questions, we could create moments of cosmopolitan communication with jazz. In these moments the collective of band and participants was able to shift a notch ‘forward and upward’. Evolving the personal and social consciousness of all involved towards a world just a little better.By blending conceptual and embodied metaphors like jazz improvisation with communication theory and practice, and by extending their combined force into the domain of systems design, I want to see cosmopolitan communication to become a de facto standard for our thinking about human-computer interaction. By practicing and learning about cosmopolitan communication, I hope that we can bring forth the needed integration between self, culture and nature that we need. And at least, cosmopolitan communication, as a possibility for each moment, is a way to start practicing this integration now, today.