What is Integration?

‘Writing in a journal is one of the oldest methods of self-exploration and expression.’ ~ Daniel Barbezat & Mirabai Bush

What is Integration? 

Integration is the embodiment of wisdom into the fluxes of daily life. Embodiment is central to integration. 

Integration is the embodiment of the wisdom, realisations and revelations that are arrived at from one’s spiritual practice. Sometimes the insights and realisations may be so subtle that one may not know them tangibly but rather simply be able feel to feel that there is a shift within.

Integration is about aligning what the mind understands now with the heart and literally with the physical body, by living out the insights and realisations in situ. Integration promotes integrity of being. 

Integration is about allowing this new level of awareness move through oneself without resistance. It is about following through by taking action and practising what one has internally understood during a process of awakening. It is about mirroring the new awareness on all levels of physical, psychological, emotional, transpersonal and spiritual planes. It is to walk the talk.

The big challenge is to embody/integrate spirituality into everyday life. That seems to have been the sticking point that has allowed so many atrocities and unkindnesses. Sure many of us could talk a good game, but when it came down to crunch time, all of our old issues and instincts kicked in to make us small-minded and animalistic. The list of ways that we don’t act in accordance spirit and ultimately with ourselves is too extensive to go into, and that’s not the point of this blog post anyway.

The point is talking about what it means to integrate spirituality so that you are moving in a holistic–heart, body, mind, and soul–way through your life means to understand something on the mental, emotional, psychic, and physical planes of existence. When we pull through a “spiritual energy,” each level of us has to understand it through its own means before we fully get it. For the mind, that means that you need to conceptually understand this energy. I’m saying energy because you have to realize that words and language are very secondary in this process, depending on what’s coming through (they may even be irrelevant depending on what’s happening–I know your mind is already arguing with that part). Energy comes through, or another way to look at it is that something opens within us. Our minds can step in to say, “Oh I now understand that when I hurt others, I hurt myself.” Let’s say that’s the message. But just because your mind understands it doesn’t mean that the rest of you gets it. Most people on the spiritual path may have some of these concepts very-well understood, but when there’s a long line at the toll plaza, suddenly they’re yelling at the driver who cuts them off. Their heart and body clearly don’t understand that concept because they’re now sending out negative thoughts at someone, which will likely be passed on by that other person. That’s what we’ve been doing, you know. We’ve been sending along violence and dis-ease for centuries. We have to learn to stop that.

So when the heart begins to learn this concept that hurting others is hurting ourselves, it may become emotionally painful to say mean things to others. You may truly feel it in your heart, and when your body understands it, your body will feel awful to “do” hurtful things to others. This may seem outlandish to some of you, but that’s just your mind talking. You have to walk this path to understand it, and because body and heart integrations don’t really lend themselves to words–because that’s not how they “think” or integrate–I can’t really tell you how this feels inside. I can only tell you that the more you integrate spirituality into the whole of you, the more you will feel transformed and live and interact in much more peaceful and loving ways.

The Importance of Integration: Integrity of Being, Truthfulness and Living in Alignment  

Integration is important because it is concerned with connecting the knowledge and the awareness to the heart and body. For example, during your spiritual experience, you realise that you’ve been judgemental of others. As a result, you haven’t been treating the people around you with love and compassion. At this moment, this is awareness. Awareness becomes wisdom – only when it sinks into your heart. Then you start to feel – feel what others feel when you say or do certain things to them. This is when your heart starts to learn that when you hurt others, you hurt yourself too. This is when we become empathic.

Here’s another example. During your experience, you had a profound realisation that drinking alcohol is blocking you from your connection to the source. Consequently, you also realised that you’ve been using alcohol as an escape mechanism to avoid your shadows. This realisation will simply be an awareness unless you follow through after the experience – by not drinking the alcohol or cutting it down. Then this becomes an integrated experience. The embodiment of the wisdom.

Integrating or integration? Insights from Direct First-Person Experiences in Daily Life

Although the term integration is commonly used among scholars, facilitators and practitioners, it is more congruent to use the term integrating, because integration is an ongoing process. The work of integration never truly ends.

Integrating involves the drawing of our awareness inwards, bringing inner experiences to our outer awareness. Inside out. 

Integration also involved the drawing of our awareness outwards, bringing our outer awareness to our inner experiences. Outside in. 

Put simply, integration can be endeavoured through a broad range of integration practices, but these practices will have little to no impact unless the attitude of integrating direct first-person experiences occurs with awareness in each and every moment. It is helpful to talk about and share the insights and realisations and revelations but if this talk and sharing is not then followed through they remain abstract and detached from daily life. The challenging part in this process is, by not integrating, spiritual bypassing can happen.

Recommended Integration Practices 

For many people, once they step onto the spiritual path, they treat everything on the spiritual level but this is when we can create spiritual bypassing and fail to deal with our shadows.

Integration has to happen on the psychological level as well from the therapeutic perspective. No, you don’t have to be in therapy at all – in fact, this can be counterproductive. But there are so many ways that you can integrate on psychological level through simple ways. Also after the spiritual awakening, it’s important for us to bring the experience back down into our bodies and ground ourselves.

So here are some ideas that you can get started, if you haven’t already to start your integration and grounding process. The key here is not to just do it but to have an intention of why you’re doing it and pay attention to how these activities are helping you integrate and progress in life.

  • Journaling and other forms of creative writing;
  • Meditation;
  • Yoga, tai chi and qi gong;
  • Healing modalities such as sound healing, reiki, kinesiology and hypnotherapy;
  • Movement and various forms of ecstatic dance;
  • Painting, drawing and other art forms;
  • Spending time connecting with nature;
  • Decluttering;
  • Creating space in your life as well as your calendar;
  • Creating alone time;
  • Floating and salt baths with Epsom salts, Dead Sea salts and Sodium Bicarbonate;
  • Wild swimming in seas, oceans, lakes, streams or rivers.

Once an experience has been experienced, it is natural for the mind to expect radical life changes. Sometimes radical change does occur but most of the time, it is the subtle changes that compound over time. Everything around will mirrors the changes within us and so the circumstances that happen in our life can be seen as both a barometer and a reminder of one’s own personal growth.

Therefore, integration, and embodiment, do not have to be radical. Integration is about how each of us treat ourselves and others, respond to situations and how show up in our lives.

By Dr. Gabriella F. Buttarazzi (Uma Shakti Devi)

| Founder and Director of Education of ' The Art of Integral Being' | Teacher Trainer on the '500-hour Integral Yogic Studies' Teacher Training Programme |

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