Wholeness in Our Every Breath

By George Pór for Enlivening Edge Magazine

I’ve been living divided and yearning for wholeness. Far too long. Parts of me argue with other parts, jostling to accommodate roles with different priorities. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not seeking a utopian nirvana of absolute peace and plenty. I am burning inside, fuelled by all-consuming attraction to a particular possibility – the possibility of a world where personal wholeness is within the reach of anyone desiring it.

I imagine that such world would be shorn of: “Having jobs that violate our basic values; Remaining in relationships that kill our spirit; Harboring secrets for personal gain at other people’s expense; Hiding our beliefs to avoid conflict, challenge, and change; Concealing our true identities for fear of being shunned, attacked, or criticized.” A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer

Let’s get real. Wholeness starts with self-knowing, and it requires self-care. It involves naming and mapping the parts of who we are, then sensing the needs and aspirations of those parts. Since the early ‘90s, I’ve been setting aside time to “interview” these parts about why they show up in my life, and what they are called to do. This is my yearly birthday gift to myself. (You can find the most recent version here.)

Why I am telling you this? Because I don’t want to simply use this column to write about wholeness as a topic, in a distanced way. I want to experience the foretaste of wholeness with you. So, consider this an invitation.

ikigaiIf you accept, give yourself the gift of a quiet moment. Then, play with the map on the left. It comes from Okinawa, where an above-average percentage of the population lives more than 100 years. In case you are wondering, the Japanese word “Ikigai” in the center of the diagram approximately means “the reason for which you get up in the morning”.

Now, take a moment to relax your whole body. Feel into each of the 4 circles. Turn them into questions. Listen to the answers that whisper in your ear, or light up like a marquee, or niggle in your gut.

Once you’re happy with your 4 sets of answers, pay particular attention to those that are resonant with words or phases in more than one circle.

Is there coherence of Passion, Mission, Profession and Vocation in your Ikigai? If something is missing, close your eyes for a moment and envision already having it. Feel the joy of having whatever you need in order to bring your lifework into full coherence. Not in the future, but right now.

Naturally, there is much more to wholeness than integrating your lifework. Still, this is a good approach. When I lived in India, I discovered another approach. My spiritual teacher used to tell us, “Unless the man and the woman inside you become one whole, you will remain discontented, with something always missing.” Of course, he was not referring to gender. He was referring to the two basic energies of life, the archetypal opposites that dance together, keeping each of us, as well as the universe, in co-creative synergy.

It is a dynamic dance of opposites: receiving and giving; feminine and masculine; being and becoming. The more robustly you inhabit your being, the higher your becoming can soar! The higher you soar, the more land you see below. Give it a try 🙂

What does this have to do with the “wholeness at work” breakthrough of next-stage organizations? Everything. “Enlivened organisations honour people’s needs, talents, and potential. With an enhanced sense of aliveness, people contribute to the aliveness of the whole of which they are a part. Living from the inner connection to creative energy adds energy to the system and adds more to life.” Enlivening Ourselves, by Anna Betz

The traditional workplaces of our dominant culture discourage us from showing up in our full humanness, with our feelings and highest aspirations, with our vulnerabilities and tapestry of talents. In such organizations, we are dispensable human resources of production: commodities. There is something profoundly inhuman about that. Thanks to next-stage organizations, the doors into our wholeness are beginning to open. Some are squeaking open, others are swinging open.

However, not everyone will be able to walk through those doors. Only those women and men will, who have experienced the joy of living undivided, even if for only fleeting moments; only those who burn to be in authentic relationships, divested of standard-issue professional masks. Such people long to show up whole at work, as in every area of their life.

Are you one of those people? Let’s learn about each other by sharing, in the comment stream below, what inspires and hinders us on our journey to wholeness,

In closing, let me finish this message to you with a few lines that I wrote and published on a bygone social network.


In our every breath

Breathing in, you surrender to Great Mystery
Breathing out, you blow the winds of change 
Such ecstasy in every cycle of this conscious breath

You’ve kicked the habit of already-knowing,
and descended to the bedrock of sheer emptiness 
where there’s only sweet surrender
to knowing nothing, being nobody…

And here you stay
until the next big bang of your becoming
tosses you up and out
with purpose and direction

A passionate fan of Freedom, Truth, Beauty 
you emerge from that bedrock with new élan, 
time after time, day after day…

And now you sight them
He and She, surrendered to the pulse of Light,
dancing inside the breath

Looking into His eyes,
She knows Herself and the ever-deeper layers 
of Her opening and opening and opening…

Looking into Her eyes,
He discovers Himself and soars
to new heights of courage and clarity
She and He, dancing inside our every breath
alone, together –

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George Pór — February 20, 2007


George in GreenwhichGeorge Pór is an evolutionary thinker and a strategic learning partner to visionary leaders in business, government, and civil society. He is the originator of Enlivening Edge, and has been publishing the Blog of Collective Intelligence since 2003. A select list of his articles and book chapters on the fields of collective intelligence, organizational and social renewal can be found here.  More about George’s work on the enlivening edge of planetary transformation is here.