Living an Integrated Life
What is your definition of a successful life?
I often use this question as a tool for practicing listening. I’ve heard it is a difficult question to answer. Many people respond to it by saying “I’ve never thought about it” or “this is too hard.”
Sometime along the way in my journey personally and professionally I stopped to ask myself, “What do I care about, what am I good at, and what do I like doing? Those seem very simple, and, self-discovery requires curiosity, willingness to explore, and courage.
When I taught kindergarten, adults asked children “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I always thought that was two questions: WHO do you want to be, and WHAT will you do with that?”
In a very simple way, if you like it and you are good at it, start there.
We are living in a rapid- fire, get it done now, I don’t have time to think culture. Doing is rewarded, the amount of information we are exposed to causes our brains to react by filing it without considering it, and we really don’t know much about ourselves except that we are deeply overwhelmed.
It takes commitment, practice, and support to begin to unravel where you are; inside and out, when you are most fulfilled and happy, what provides you with a sense of accomplishment, and what matters most in your life. We are beyond “work/life balance.” Balance is a dynamic, moving experience, not a static state…40 hours of work, 40 hours of life…does not exist. Rather, our desire is for an integrated life.
Integration means to be whole.
It can mean learning to bring all of WHO you are to wherever you are, whatever you are doing. We are intellectual and intuitive, we think and feel, and we possess a deeper, inner knowing that can serve us when we learn to listen to it by choosing to check in with ourselves.
I recently asked a client to sit still and be quiet for 5 minutes once a day for 5 days.
He resisted, and I pushed, he agreed to try it, and 5 days later he wrote:
"I noticed how there was a tingling in my body at first and some ringing in my ears.
It was hard to push everything aside at first but by the time it was up I was very relaxed. I didn't feel so much discomfort as I did a sense of calm."
What would it take for you to sit quietly, be still, and listen beyond the tingling and ringing to your deeper, inner knowing? What might be revealed? I believe the collective, unnamed longing in our culture is for CONNECTION: to yourself, to others, and to the bigger picture…the great mystery trying to get our attention and help us be of service while and by being in alignment with our truth.