Growing Up: A Guided Tour

Ken Wilber Aesthetic, Cognitive, Editor's Picks, Integrative Metatheory, Intrapersonal, Perspectives, The Ken Show, Values, Video, What is human development?, Worldviews 6 Comments

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n this episode of The Ken Show we explore one of the most central elements of integral metatheory: growing up through multiple stages of developmental maturity. Watch as Ken and Corey offer a guided tour through each of the major stages on the Path of Growing Up — an exploration of your own greatest, deepest potentials — and offer some simple practices to help you actualize those potentials.

In a certain way, these stages of development are a bit difficult to talk about, because all of the other major elements of integral metatheory — quadrants, states, and even types — can be experienced phenomenologically right now in our own first-person awareness. But stages of development are a bit different — they aren’t something we can experience in our mind, because they are the shape of our mind. The aren’t something we can see right now, because they aren’t what we see, they are how we see.

But while altitude is more difficult to evoke in our own first-person experience, it’s perhaps the element of integral theory that lights people up the most, and makes the most immediate sense to them.


Because these stages are so difficult to point to in our immediate experience, we’ve compiled a series of short clips from some very popular films, each of which demonstrates some aspect of that stage — the view from that stage, the values of that stage, or the general leadership styles associated with that stage — offering some well-known cultural reference points to help flesh out our understanding of these stages of growth and development.


There is a question that we are often asked, which is “what are the best practices for growing up”. And it’s such a difficult question to answer, precisely because growth and development is such a complex process, and our developmental lines are often so tangled up with each other, that in order to answer that question we would almost need to suggest a different practice for every line at every stage. Which is kind of what we are trying to do on the Integral Life Practice page of our site, helping people find a more comprehensive approach to their own growth and development by cross-training in several dimensions of their lives simultaneously.

But it’s hard to think of practices that work across all of these many different ways we grow. However, there are at least four that we often recommend to people:

Meditation (Waking Up), because it makes it easier to make subject into object, and can help grease your developmental gears.

Therapy and Shadow Work (Cleaning Up), because it helps prevent our shadows from sabotaging our growth, and because it’s much easier to navigate in a clean and well-kept environment, and our minds are no different.

And one that I would personally like to suggest — find your carpet burn. That has been invaluable for me. I made a decision a long time ago to surround myself with people who are more developed, more wise, and more skillful than myself. (You’d think I’d be further along, considering I’ve been here 15 years.) But simply being around people who are more evolved than you exerts a natural sort of developmental telos upon you, as you unconsciously take their perspectives, emulate their behavior, internalize their influence, and hold yourself accountable to their higher, deeper values. 

So seek out people who embody the qualities you wish to posses in yourself, let yourself get dragged through the dirt, allow yourself to really feel the burn created by all that friction.

And, of course, study integral. Listen to shows like this. Subscribe to our free podcast to stay current, or better yet, become a member to unlock our full treasure trove of practices, discussions, and presentations, all designed to help you wake up, grow up, clean up, and show up. Read Ken’s books, read the books he includes in his references. Enroll in Ken’s Full Spectrum Mindfulness course, which is possibly the most comprehensive approach to “Growing Up” that we’ve ever had.

This isn’t at all self-promotional. Well maybe it is, but only a little bit. This material really does have a powerful psychoactive effect upon us as we begin to internalize the map and find our own inner compass.

The way you think about these stages will change and mature as you yourself mature through these stages. There are more and less skillful ways to use integral language and apply integral thinking in your life and in the world around you — and by regularly engaging the practices, perspectives, and training programs offered here at Integral Life, your ability to tell the difference will improve over time.

Studying the integral framework offers ways of interpreting and enacting reality that you will find yourself growing into for years and decades to come. It is a translation that itself helps catalyze and navigate our ongoing transformation.

Written by Corey W. deVos

Music by Stuart Davis

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Full Spectrum Mindfulness is a groundbreaking new web course that combines Western approaches to Growing Up with Eastern methods of Waking Up, taught by one of the world’s greatest living philosophers of the mind, Ken Wilber.

Full Spectrum Mindfulness combines hard-hitting mindfulness practice with leading-edge discoveries in neuroscience and developmental psychology, giving you what you need to dramatically deepen your awareness and skill by awakening the eight major levels of evolution alive in you right now.

Learn how Full Spectrum Mindfulness can help you grow up

Ask Ken a Question

Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Notable Replies

  1. Let us know what you think of this guided presentation, or if you have any questions you would like us to address in a future episode of The Ken Show!

  2. Hi Alex, so glad you enjoyed the discussion, and welcome to the community!

    The next part — the guided tour from Orange to Teal/Turquoise — will be released next week. Some really great clips in there as well. Stay tuned!

  3. Just a quick note about some synchronicity, if you will. I was browsing through the site over the last couple of days. I came across the discussion on Star Trek: Star Trek values are Integral Values, downloaded it and watched it on my commute to work. One of the points made was that there were representatives of different cultures in the programme. I work in Bradford UK which has an enormous South Asian population. Bradford is being promoted at the moment, including several events on the BBC network. On their website was an article about AA Dhand, a crime writer from and who sets his novels in Bradford. (You can read the article at He was bemoaning the decline of Bradford from its heyday in the late 19th C early 20th C, to its state today. (He describes the town as a cesspit in his novels). Anyway, he was talking about the regeneration of Bradford and made the point that the children/youngsters of Bradford need their own heroes. He notes Barack Obama and Beyoncé and then notes that there are no South Asian heroes that the children of Bradford can look to. Which brought me back to Star Trek Discovery because, of course, we have a South Asian main character: Shazad Latif who plays Ash Tyler. Whilst the main character is Michael Burnham, it can easily be argued that the depth of Star Trek Discovery comes from the plot lines around Ash Tyler.

  4. Although I grew up with Star Trek, I was never a fan. One thing I found preposterous was that in the far future we would still have nationalities, races, ethnicities. Wouldn’t it be much more likely that nations would wither away and “races” (already a discredited concept) would blend. Even the idea that space would be the province of the military didn’t seem break new ground. Of course, as someone astutely said, “Science Fiction is always about the present.”

  5. Well to be fair, Discovery and TOS are only set ~250 years in the future, and I am not sure that will be enough time for the human race to blend into a single mono-race… :slight_smile:

    As for nations, I think they would remain intact, the same way that towns, counties, and states continue to exist today. All nationalities eventually become folded into a larger planetary society, of course, and then into the interplanetary Federation itself, but there would still be room for varying identities, cultures, ethnicities, etc.

    Star Trek isn’t so much about finding some future unity around some homogenized “sameness”, but rather finding unity in “infinite diversity in infinite combinations”.

    Sorry, total nerd moment over here :slight_smile:

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