"Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own." -Bruce Lee
This statement, by martial arts legend Bruce Lee, is a great description of the process of integration. When I returned home from my month-long yoga immersion in Costa Rica, I knew that I wanted to integrate the lessons learned there into my daily routines at home. The challenge, of course, was determining the best way for me, in my daily life, to incorporate these practices. Obviously, it was not realistic to schedule four hours of daily practice while also attending to my other responsibilities, but could I find small ways to integrate some of the key practices? And, what was my motivation? What was I seeking by integrating these practices?
I think that I am presenting a common dilemma. Many of us recognize the feeling after attending a week-long retreat, half day workshop, or even an hour long yoga class. We have that experience of not wanting to get up from our mats after a blissful savasana. Or, of feeling energized and alert, while also relaxed and calm. Or, even just that subtle knowing of feeling different at the end of class than when we first walked into the class. We know that something shifted within us during the class, lecture, workshop, or retreat. Although we may not be able to name it, we know that it has occurred, and when we look around the class, we see the same expression in everyone else as well. We feel connected, we feel whole, we feel good, just so damn good!
And then, five minutes later, we check our smartphones and see that we missed a call from work, the kids sent numerous text messages asking where the peanut butter is, our spouse left a message asking us to pick up some bread from the grocery store, and Wham! Its like we're right back where we started! There is a difference though. We have a choice now. We can jump right back into life with haste, or we can gracefully step into it with awareness. It is this choice that gives us the opportunity for integration.
It is when we step off the mat and into our daily lives that we are given the choice to integrate our practices. Our practices on the mat or the meditation cushion allow us to practice, to fine tune our awareness, to connect with something greater than our selves, something outside of our selves. This leads us to the eventual realization that we are always connected with our true Self, that infinite Self and consciousness that is the common thread among all things. This connection, this awareness, is integration. So, the practices, the techniques, the rituals and routines all help. They help by reminding us of this connection and of finessing our awareness. The true integration, however, is occurring at every moment.