Having just completed the lesson on Types in the Core Integral program I’ve been studying I’ve been digesting, assimilating, and generally chewing the cud on the subject of typologies, as described in the AQAL framework, and how they apply to Integral Herbalism.
How can the various psychological typologies (meyers-briggs, eneagram, etc) be used in Herbal Medicine? First they almost exclusively focus on the UL – i.e. they say nothing about physiology. That said, can they help the practitioner better understand their client, how to interact with them, and how to motivate them? Herbal medicine is largely about education; can types play a role in helping the client better know themselves? This opens a huge question: What is the role of self-knowledge in healing? How does understanding a client’s emotional, mental and behavioral patterns, as described in typological systems help in developing an integral approach to wellness and healing?
How can the Ayurvedic, Galenic, Tibetan, and Chinese (5 element) typologies be used in Integral Herbalism? What these systems often contain which is absent from the Western Psychological typologies is the understanding of both the UR and the UL quadrant (they also understand states of consciousness and “the great chain of being”). This provides them with some major advantages over the Western systems. Why? Because not only can one understand how the clients life, illness, patterns, experience, etc. are arising in both the UR and the UL quadrants, one can also then match this understanding with appropriate herbs and foods (which are well understood in terms of their chemical and subtle energetic properties in traditional systems of medicine and nutrition). This allows one to select herbs and foods that will help bring an individual into physiological and emotional balance, counteract their tendencies to excesses or deficiencies, and generally support their unfolding. This is where types may begin to apply to the larger picture of an individuals development, healing, evolution, and entering into their fullest potential. To me this is the widest scope of my role as an Integral practitioner. For types in particular, this implies, using ones understanding of types to understand an individuals strengths and weaknesses, tendencies to excesses and deficiencies, adaptive and maladaptive patterns (psychological, behavioral and physiological) and matching them with the best possible support, a plan for Integral Wellness formulated for and with the client.
In Ayruvedic and Tibetan medicine in particular the link to the spiritual unfoldment of the individual is made most clear. This is another huge discussion and I won’t go into the details. However I’ll mention a few interesting tidbits: the 5 skandhas are correlated with the 5 elements (fire, water, earth, air, ether), and the three poisons (hate, greed, delusion) match up with the predominate patterns of dis-ease (maladaptive responses to suffering-dukkha) displayed by the three primary constitutional types (pitta, kapha, vata). The whole story becomes more complex and intricate from there. However, there is a clear way of connecting and understanding an individual type in their physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions. This opens the doors to the whole realm of buddhist psychology and spiritual wisdom- including potentially, the usage of mindfulness, meditation, visualization, mantras, prayer, and so forth specifically matched to the individual.
I’ll leave it at that for now. Please feel free to add your 2 cents worth.