Integrated Living: Introduction

Humans tend to have this strange habit of walking around each day and chopping their life into bits. They chop others’ lives into bits, too, at any opportunity. We have this natural ability to categorize, organize, and analyze yet issues arise when this is applied improperly. When we try to measure other people or ourselves we end up dissecting them and ignoring very real and usually invisible factors in their lives or in their person. When we try to measure ourselves by anything less than our totality we become caricatures, we become broken (and not in the good way), and our actions and words do not match our actuality. We literally begin to disintegrate ourselves.

There are multiple ways to do this yet they all lead to the same outcome. Disintegration can occur through outright lying, through hiding, and through the failure to fully examine ourselves. Dissection involves disintegrating another person (the image you hold of them in your mind, usually, although in some cases it also includes tearing down the person themself). This occurs when you judge without sufficient reason, when you allow a bias or prejudice to be the center of automatic actions, and when you fail to consider that there is a whole aspect to them that you are missing. Our brains may deal with parts of things, with parsing and dicing and marking, yet we have to keep in mind it is always an approximation. When you make judgements without sufficient information it is an exaggeration of reality and is an illusion or a delusion. It is very difficult to correct for this when you leave no margin of error.

It has never made sense to me that so many are living divided lives or that it is the norm to make claims about individuals with no knowledge of their actual lives. We only get glimpses into others’ lives and though we do our best to form opinions about them based on that little bit of information there is always the chance that we are missing something. This happens often in judgments about fringe people. They receive the most distorting ideas because there is just so much that isn’t known. That’s why it is important for people to speak up, be honest, and have integrity.

Many people may not have internalized the actual meaning of integrity and its implications. Being an integrated person means leaving no corner of your mind, actions, and ideas unexplored. Being an integrated person means that you are transparent to the world and in your dealings with other people. It means that you remove your masks and that you view your entire life as one whole. A lot of people are walking around with pieces missing. A lot of them expect someone or something else to fill the void, to make them feel whole. In other words, we are all naturally inclined towards integration of self. People point to God, they point to a significant other, they point to success as the solution. The only solution to integration is the mind itself.

I say this because the mind is what we use to organize our world and interact with it. There are very few ways that you can avoid using your mind. It will even do its best to make sense of things that make no sense. Its why when your other senses are deprived you still dream (or hallucinate). Consciousness allows experiences to appear unbroken and yet somehow this doesn’t seem to carry through to the way people conduct their lives. Yet for humans our lives must have a purpose. The only way to figure out what that purpose is is to connect the parts of our lives together in the way that makes the most sense. Otherwise we are just left with a random mess of meaningless interactions.

I’ve talked about context before (Helpful Illusions). Context, in order to properly understand the context of what you encounter, requires integration. It relies on it in order to be meaningful (which is what context is all about, to make things relatable). Integration is just a simpler way of describing a movement of thoughts, ideas, works, and actions that occur together. A change on one end ripples throughout the entire system until it moves the other end. Our bodies are usually well-integrated and it’s why our trillions of atoms all move together when we walk instead of sending pieces of our body flying off everywhere.

An integrated life is one in which every practical idea and action (and even some that aren’t) is examined. It is one in which no circumstance is taken for granted. It is one in which a person displays themselves exactly as they are. The integrated person knows their purpose and everything that they do goes toward that end.

 

 

*I plan on making several posts on integration in specific areas of life such as humor, productivity, relationships, art, and spirituality. Keep in mind these are my thoughts and my personal practice and not a doctrine. I simply intend to share my experience and what integration means to me in each branch of my life. If this helps you as well, then I feel glad I can be of use to you.

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