Integral Health and Wellness – 1 – Integral Theory – Quadrants
Let us continue the exploration of Integral Theory with the first element of AQAL ; Quadrants, and how they might apply to your health and well-being.
Wilber proposes that there are 4 fundamental perspectives which derive from the following distinctions. (This is most easily understood visually, so draw a vertical line, crossed by a horizontal line, dividing your paper into 4 quadrants and take a moment to fill out this seemingly simple diagram.)
We have the subjective or interior and the objective or exterior.
The individual or singular and the collective or plural.
This gives us the Subjective individual (Upper Left Quadrant), the objective individual (Upper Right), the subjective collective or inter-subjective (Lower Left) and the objective collective or inter-objective (Lower Right).
In Integral Medicine and Health we can fill in the diagram as follows with factors that must be taken into account in order to better understand an individual’s health.
Upper Left — interior-individual
> feelings, meanings, concepts, beliefs
Upper Right — exterior-individual
> organs, tissues, cells, behavior
Lower Left — interior-collective
> shared meanings, cultural beliefs, shared worldviews, value subcultures
Lower Right — exterior-collective
> social structures, families, tribes, ecosystems, communities
If you are struggling with a health condition you will be well served by looking at your condition and your situation through the “lens” of each of the 4 quadrants. This will help you spot potential contributors to your condition that you may have missed and to discover potential “points of leverage” where you might be able to create a health positive change. For example, if you have a condition diagnosed as “eczema” which is described (Upper Right) as an inflammatory skin condition it may be of benefit to address Upper Right factors. This would include what you’re eating, levels of exercise, liver function, etc. However, you might realise that the condition is worsened by emotional stress (Upper Left), especially difficult emotions triggered in your interpersonal relationships (Lower Left) and that the eczema is exacerbated by chemicals used in your work environment (Lower Right). This gives you a number of extra “points of leverage.” Besides improving nutrition, decreasing inflammation, and supporting liver function (addressing the Upper Right) you might also address the other 3 quadrants. You could learn meditation to decrease your emotional stress (Upper Left), take a class to improve communications skills (Lower Left), and be more diligent about wearing rubber gloves when dealing with potential chemical exposure at work (Lower Right). Such an approach maximises your chance of resolving your health condition and it does so in a way that confers significant side-benefits (meditation has numerous benefits as does stress-reduction in general, improved relationships, and lower risk of developing other conditions related to chemical exposure, better overall nutrition and a decrease in systemic inflammation). Through an Integral approach to your eczema you have not only resolved your health condition you have grown into a healthier and hopefully happier human being.
Next we will explore the AQAL element of Levels.
If you wish to further explore the role of Quadrants in health and medicine please join me in Greece for an Integral Health and Wellness retreat.