I have always thought of integrity as living in line with my personal values, and it has always been important to me to do so.
But recently, I’ve identified a disconnect between my soul and my body. The idea that it’s what’s on the inside of us that counts is a message I’ve taken to heart throughout my life. So much so in fact, that after a period of unwelcome male attention, I learned to ignore my body to some degree in order to nurture and develop the person I am inside. This was my protective mechanism designed to invite only those who appreciate who I am into my life – but I’ve never thought of myself as ‘out of integrity’ because of it.
It turns out that being in integrity is actually more than living according to a certain moral code of conduct, goodness or being true to oneself. It is about being fully integrated with ourselves – it is about wholeness.
You can be a good person and living in line with your core values, but if you’re dominated by your intellectual sense, at the expense of your heart, or are led by your body but without the input of your mind or heart, you are still out of integrity in some way. I find myself often living mind and soul, with some input from my heart, but in a disconnect with my physical body: I’m not living as an integrated person. Living in disconnect isn’t an honest expression of the beautiful whole people that we’ve been created to be.
In fact, failing to express one of our integral aspects creates blocks within our whole. As I have grown older, I sometimes notice that when I feel deep joy, I am unable to use my body to express this joy through dance, for example. This is because my heart and body have long been living like strangers.
When I first started thinking about this, I thought it ironic that despite this lack of mind-body connection, it remained intact enough for my various stresses to manifest in tense knots in my physical body. But in writing this month’s blog post, I realize that it’s this disconnect that’s actually the cause of those knots.
When our emotions have no way to release, they become trapped in the body. This can take the form of knots in our muscles, or disease in our organs. Everything is energy, but energy needs to be free to flow. I tend to lock mine up, compartmentalizing the various roles I play in my life as a way of dealing with them all, but that stuck energy results in a tremendous amount of tension as I attempt to keep parts of my life and myself separate.
I do this not only to cope, but to remain present and fully dedicated to each role and space of my life. I don’t want ‘the flow’ to distract me from where I am and result in my attention being divided, or in me being the type of person who blows around like the wind with no firm footing in anything I do. I think I will still struggle with this, and this is all part of my spiritual journey.
But one thing I know for sure, is that integrating our mind, body, heart and soul is as essential to being whole as keeping ourselves open to love and connection is. Sometimes we put up walls to protect ourselves emotionally from pain, but we inadvertently also numb ourselves to joy–the net result actually being more pain and further disconnect, both within ourselves, and in the collective whole of which we have all been created to form an integral piece.
This month’s theme at cslto is Integral Integrity
Try this: Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine different aspects of your being as puzzle pieces. How closely together do these pieces of your puzzle fit together? Now imagine yourself as a whole puzzle piece, and other people in your world as distinct puzzle pieces; do you fit together? Notice the connections and disconnections. Now breathe in loving connection, and breathe out separation.