Thursday, March 29, 2012

How to Integrate Spirituality Into Your Life

The big task of this generation--and well, probably the next several--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.

What Is Integration?
Integration 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.

I Can't Tell You How to Dance
Let's come at this from another angle. I can write down all the steps in a Tango, but that won't make you a better dancer, will it? Sure, you will now conceptually understand how to tango, but you can't do it. You have to physically practice the steps to "integrate" tango into your dance repertoire. Spirituality is no different. To embody it (which I usually synonymously with integrate), you have to take actions from the space of spirit. If you don't, then spirituality is just a high experience that you occasionally have or a couple of words that come out of your esophagus based on vibrations within the larynx and so forth. I mean, isn't it completely ridiculous to think that words and language can possibly sum up all of spirituality? How much ego is that?

No, no one can tell you how embody spirituality, but I can tell you that things like active service, yoga, and other physical actions speak to the body and how it aligns with spirit. For the heart, it's always about moving from a space of openness and love. If you only do it in part of your life--like when you're at home with your family--then that's the limits of your love. It's not fully integrating into your life, and if you feel like people wouldn't understand you coming from a space of love at your work, then maybe you should think a little bit more about what it is you're doing. I'm not recommending that you're hugging and kissing everyone at your job (I'm also not saying that you can't if the appropriate understandings and boundaries are met). I'm saying that integrating love is about how you reply within a disagreement; it's about how you listen to others; and it's about how you are with your work/business. That's how you bring spirituality more deeply into other spaces of your life.


Integration: The Pain of Removing Internal Issues
But for those of you in active awakening and who are embodying this energy while feeling like you're strapped to a running horse, this process can be much more intense. Depending on how much you're trying to hold onto pain, this can be excruciating. In this instance, each level of you is being opened, healed, and awakened further. Your ability to hold all of you--because truly it's you that you're making space for, not so outlandish ideal from God--is being greatly expanded. It may be taking everything that you've got, and each shift of energy coming through you may be integrated on a different level. Each level requires a different approach. Meditation and journaling may help with one shift. Lots of hugs and someone listening to you may help with another shift. Chanting and sound healing may work for yet another. Lots of sleep and alone time may be yet another way to integrate at another time. It's going to keep changing, and you have to accept that. Every now and then, someone tells me about how they started one practice, and it worked for a little while but is now no longer helpful. So long as you're being diligent and tuned in to your inner intelligence, it's okay to let go of the old tool and try a new one.

Perhaps the best metaphor is like a deficiency in nutrition. So you didn't have enough vitamin D at one point, that meant you drank more milk and spent more time in the sun. After you met that need, doing those things no longer makes sense, and it certainly won't help a deficiency in vitamin A. Now, I don't want you to relate spiritual awakening with deficiencies, but I think this gives you an idea that your needs are rapidly changing. You have to be very mindful in paying attention and make adjustments as needed to ease your transition.

Awareness Deepens and Gifts Expand
For anyone integrating spirituality and releasing old wounds, you're going to find your awareness growing in regards to yourself and the situations and people around you. Your gifts have been buried under pain and the general karmic crap that gets carried around, but now they are emerging. Suddenly, you're finding that you are more intuitive than you thought you were. Or perhaps, your artwork is going much easier. Perhaps business deals are suddenly very easy to make. There's a lot of amazing opportunities that open up to us when we have cleared space to receive. And in truth, the practice of integrating spirituality into your life is about clearing space. Currently, there's no room, and for those in awakening, you're having room being actively made. You know how intense that is, and perhaps, you wish you'd made more room sooner as opposed to have God's giant broom and vacuum cleaner clearing everything out. It really doesn't matter where you are on this path, things are most likely going to get intense, although they don't have to. But all of you have such amazing gifts, but you can only open up to them when you let go of all this pain.

Integrating Your Spiritual Gifts
As if this isn't all enough work, you also need to practice integrating your spiritual gifts. Sure, you can no intuit the winning lottery numbers, but how does it apply to where to send your child to college? Or how do you use it to sense if you're in the right romantic partnership or job? This also helps with integrating spirituality more fully into your life. You have to use your gifts, and honestly, to me, art, writing, being good at numbers, or whatever are all just as spiritual as psychic healing, spiritual teaching, and so forth. What makes them spiritual is being in alignment with God and with love. That's it. So you can be a spiritual janitor and use your gift for making things clean. Only now, you're probably cleaning out energy too along with dirt and dust because you're holding a brand new energy around.

Letting Go of Pain: Breakdowning the House
One of my favorite metaphors is about the little old wise man (or wise woman) who comes to your house one day. You let him in, and everything feels good. This is like your first "spiritual" high moment. Suddenly, you realize you can feel more light and happy than anything you had felt before. This goes on for a little while until one day the little old wise man goes to your closet and throws everything out in the middle of the room. This is when you have to face the crap in your life. Many people throw the little old wise man out and try to stuff everything back into the closet. But if you face the mess, when the little old wise man comes back the next time, things feel even more amazing. This goes on and repeats with the little old wise man going to the attic, garage, cellar, and every place that you hold issues and pain. Everything gets cleared out until the walls are torn down and the old house is destroyed, replaced by a beautiful new one with space for all of you.

Because ultimately, the difference between you and the little old wise man disappear, and you realize that he was just you. In this loss of duality, all is now sacred, but you can't run to this end point. The process is important and sacred as well as you go through the phase of externalizing the best parts of you in the little old wise man and in compartmentalizing pain. The end result is the full integration of you so that you can move through your life in whatever way that you so chose.

Last Thoughts for Integration
This is actually a very big topic, and I can't hit all the points that I might like to. I will most likely return to it in later blogs. You are welcome to contact me with any current questions that you have, but I encourage you to simply start journaling to see where you are. Are you still learning how to think about spirituality? Are you learning how to talk about it? How does it feel to live from your heart? What is preventing you from taking action on the things that you love? Each step down, you will likely find a lot of pain and excuses, and that's okay. But only you can remove those issues. Only you can live your life, and there is no magic bullet for integration other than to fully let go of those issues. For some reason, we think we need to carry a lot of garbage in identities, grudges, fears, and regrets. All those are burdening you and filling up the space that should be full of your light and your love. So practice letting go if nothing else. You may be amazed at how much of you is waiting to embraced.
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