How to Live a Day
Thursday, October 8, 2015
What does integration mean to you?
Pause a moment and see what arises.
Historically, integration has meant many different things to many different groups of people. But right now, it is not about mathematics or the merging of cultures or the necessary unification of disparate elements. It is about “work life balance,” though I feel that phrase is too cliche, too over-used.
I want to get right down to the nitty gritty of integration: how do we live a day?
Do we jump out of bed, not even taking a moment to feel our body, already spinning the multiple plates of the day? Do we rush through getting ready for the day with foggy sensations, diving right into the maze of thinking? Do we remember to say good morning to our children?
How do we start our work day? While we frantically accomplish activities, can we touch in to how we feel? Do our partners become strangers, our children burdens?
What do we really want: mechanical efficiency or being connected with everything that we encounter?
Yes, integration in this context is about being in tune with all strands of our activities. Imagine feeling ourselves fully present with whatever activity we are engaging in. What if we could feel the connection between family and work? Would it be possible to find more satisfaction in even mundane activities?
Recently I retired from an eight-year career so that I could pursue my own business. I also happen to have an eight-month-old baby. In the midst of my transition from working for others to working for myself, I realized that I was beginning to spin with an incredible amount of activity. Running my own business demands an awful lot of attention. So does having a tiny baby.
About a month after I had resigned from my old job, I found that I had completed most of the infrastructure for the business, and I needed to pause and discern where the next steps were. I remembered a technique that I often teach my clients, that of collaging. It was still warm out, the leaves of autumn just barely beginning to turn here in Northern Vermont, and so baby and I went outside to the picnic table in the yard. She enjoyed eating leaves and grass and occasionally a toy, while I allowed a stream of consciousness to dictate the creation of my collage. I did not pre-think the collage, I did not plan where to put the pieces of colored paper, I just allowed it to unfold.
I was able to draw out a picture of my life as it is right now, noticing that the missing piece was a large spinning wheel of activity in the top left corner of the paper. I then paused again, and realized that this spinning wheel of activity, which represented all of my business activities, was disconnected from the ground. It was not connected to my family, it was not connected to my home, and it left me feeling very overworked and ungrounded.
As a practitioner of meditation, I know what this tastes like. I have learned to know the flavors of my mind, and I can see the benefit of presence. I also know the pain of being disjointed, overworking, and ignoring the people around me. I cannot be balanced if I am only a spinning wheel of activity.
Over the course of the following week, which included my birthday, I practiced the art of reflection. This is a practice I have done around my birthday for years. Out of the reflection arises a word to frame the coming year. A word that represents a wish, an intention, almost a self-arising benediction for the new year. And the word for this year was, you guessed it: integration!
Upon further reflection, I began to recognize that the spinning itself was out of fear and anxiety that my business wouldn’t fly. When I am too separated in my actions, there is no ability to flow with things. Flexibility is a great tool for working with fear. If I focus only on business, for example, then when I am with my baby I stress out, and vice versa. Integrating the two means that I am not pulled away from whatever is in front of me and am therefore able to be present with things as they are.
Approaching the dance of my life as one of integration flips the fear on its head. It is up to me to be present both with my daughter and my business. And not only that, being present with my daughter informs my business and my business informs my presence with my daughter. The work that I teach needs to be actually embodied by me in order for me to share it. If I am teaching others to embody their experience and be present in their lives, then this is an offering to my daughter, my husband, my home, my community. There’s a reason my business is called The Presence Point.
So, how can we live a day? We can engage in even the smallest tasks of the day with a sense of willingness to stay with those small moments and recognize vastness in each of them. It is up to us to weave together the strands of our own experience.
Integration means taking a deep breath and recognizing the interconnection and interrelationship between all aspects of our lives. It may be helpful to ask ourselves each day: will this activity be of benefit to myself and others? Does this activity support the flourishing of my life? Can I feel a sense of wholeness? And if I feel disjointed, how can I shift that so I begin to feel integrated?
You can start now. Ask yourself these questions. Pause right now and feel the back of your body, your feet and your belly. Nobody else is going to come along and make your life what you want it to be, so it is up to you to integrate and live fully.
I challenge you to do so and would love to support you on your journey.
Contact me now for a free 15 minute consultation.