The process of Integration
One of my favorite things to do is to reflect back on notes I have taken over the past few weeks, months, or years, including the notes taken from books I keep in my Book Journals. I spend time connecting dots between theories and my learned experience. I create flow charts and lists with my own metaphors and theories to practice and play with. The integration of my knowledge, my curiosities, and my experience cultivates into a beautiful picture that becomes simpler and more impactful each time I engage in this activity. As someone who is committed to learning and growth, this is an important part of my process.
This blog post is my creative process In preparation for the amount of writing I am committed to submitting to Branded Magazine (for online and soon-to-be in Print) for the next 14 months, and the quality, simplicity, and clarity that I want it to embody.
So today I want to share with you what integration looks like and the questions I ask myself as I piece things together. I don't know what this will look like yet and am excited to read the finished product, as I hope you will be too.
So here goes...
I have flipped through my notebooks and Book Journals to pull the quotes and concepts that are standing out to me today, and organize that into a type of flow chart, starting at the foundation and working up towards enlightenment as your best-Self - whatever you experience enlightenment as will be your own unique experience.
Start with Why - Why are you committed to this journey? What is your purpose? What are you curious about? What is the fuel behind your desire for change? Know your highest strengths and deploy them in the service of something much greater than you.
You've got to want something, and know why you want it, or you'll end up giving up too easily...The power of the why is what gets you to stick through the grueling, mundane, and laborious...Everything in your life exists because you first made a choice about something" - Darren Hardy (The Compound Effect)
Align with you Core Values - get clear on what fills you with joy, what brings balance, what inspires you. and how you want to feel at the end of each day. These are you Core Values.
"Nothing creates more stress that when our actions and behavior's aren't congruent with our values" - Darren Hardy
Live with Intention and Direction. Pay attention to what you notice. Observe how you react. Be curious about your habits, your triggers, and your self-talk.
"When we are on auto-pilot, our awareness "believes" what it perceives. There is no mindsight, and our state-dependent perceptions, emotional reactions, beliefs, and behavioral responses are felt to be justified, equated with absolute reality, not discerned as just activities of the mind" -Daniel Siegal (Mindsight)
What do you believe about life and about yourself? What do your negative self-talk patterns illustrate about what you believe? Why do you believe that? Is it true? Could you choose a new belief that is more empowering, self-loving, and inspiring? Guess what, you have the power and the right to choose your own beliefs. If you are no longer fueled by a belief you have held onto, it's time to change it.
"What you believe tends to determine how you behave toward others. Your behavior tends to influence the quality of the relationships you have with others, which affects their behavior. This, of course, influences the results you obtain from these people. In turn, the results usually reinforce your belief in the correctness of your beliefs" - Thomas Crane (The Heart of Coaching)
Be prepared for finding the cracks in your foundation as some beliefs you discover are no longer serving or true for you. It can feel like the ground is ripped from beneath your feet. But just as is the case for all tremendous struggle, you will get through it, nothing lasts forever, and it will make you stronger and wiser in the end.
"Tremendous fear and turmoil can open up inside of you simply because something is not the way you thought it was. It shakes you to the core of your being because it challenges the house of thoughts in which you are dwelling." - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Who do you spend time with? Surround yourself with greatness, with inspiration, with people and ideas that support who you truly are versus who you have been told to be. Be intentional with who you choose to spend time with.
"You cannot hang around negative people and expect to live a positive life" - Darren Hardy
Staying curious and spending time reading, conversing, and writing on the topic of Mind-Power and Self-development is such an empowering way to live. But don't forget the other basic building blocks that will fuel your journey and keep you grounded. When there's a crack in the foundation, the whole structure is compromised.
- Get REST! Take time to rest your body. Laying on the couch watching tv is not as restful as you convince yourself it is. Get your 6-8 hours of sleep. Create space in your day for some 'me-time'. Rest your body and rest your mind.
- Meditate - or move your body in Mindful Movement following your breath - hello yoga ;).
- Mindful Eating
And staying on top of these 'building blocks' provides easy access to natural Happy Chemicals on the daily. Positive Feedback loops are the best.
"It is our hypocrisy and self-focus that drains us. When we become purpose-centered, internally directed, others-focused, and externally open, we discover energy we didn't know we had" - Robert E Quinn (Building the Bridge as You Walk on it)
Develop a Growth Mindset.
"The Growth Mindset allows people to love what they're doing - and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties.... [It also allows people to] value what they're doing regardless of the outcome. They're tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues" Carol Dweck (Mindset)
There is no failure when the goal is to learn, grow, explore, expand, and discover. You have to start somewhere, so acknowledge where you are, and commit to growth. Let go of comparisons, let go of wishing you were already past being a beginner, let go of "shoulds", regrets, and "what-ifs". Love your journey and focus on what you are learning.
"Maybe it's not the case that any person can be anything, but it is still true that within certain parameters, people can learn and grow. For those who have a Growth Mindset, failures may sting but they are also viewed as opportunities for improvement and change" - Meg Jay (The Defining Decade)
Set some Goals and get moving. Know that you learn best through experience and you attract the energy that you exude.
"You reap what you sow; you can't get out of life what you're not willing to put into it. If you want more love, give more love. If you want greater success, help others achieve more. And when you study and master the science of achievement, you will find the success you desire" - Darren Hardy (The Compound Effect)
Learn from experience.
"What we know from past experience is an asset, but what leads to successful transformation is our capacity to learn in real time. While knowledge is useful, learning is essential" - Robert E Quinn )Building the Bridge as You Walk on it)
Set yourself up for success by learning about your body and mind. What foods fuel you? What activities allow time to fly by? What makes you feel great and what makes you feel deflated? Pay attention. Observe without judgement and stay curious.
"What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity" - Dan & Chip Heath (Switch)
Know your Fears. Fear is a learned behavior and is amplified the more you focus on it. Where your mind goes, energy flows. Change your perception of fear by reading about it, talking about it, and observing your own fear while choosing to act in accordance to your Core Values or Intention of that day.
"Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember this rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it" - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)
"You can do one of two things with fear: you can recognize that you have it and work to release it, or you can keep it and try to hide from it" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Trust that you have the strength, the resilience, and the determination to continue down your chosen path, and to make the sharp turns, tweaks, and edits as you travel.
"We must trust in our vision enough to start our journey into the chasm of uncertainty, believing that the resources will appear...It is this initial step of trusting ourselves that is the most difficult" - Robert E Quinn (Building the Bridge as You Walk on it)
40% of the activities you engage in today are habits. 95% of what you think today, you also thought yesterday. We are creatures of habit and our mind is one mass of learned behaviors.
"The brain acts as an "anticipation machine" that continually prepares itself for the future based on what has happened in the past. Memories shape our current perceptions by creating a filter through which we automatically anticipate what will happen next: - Daniel Siegal (Mindsight)
Know your Happy Chemicals and engage in activities daily that produce them.
"The feeling we call 'happiness' comes from four special brain chemicals: dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin. These happy chemicals spurt when your brain sees something good for your survival. Then they turn off, so they're ready to spurt again when something good crosses your path...Each of the happy chemicals motivates a different type of survival behavior" - Loretta Breuning (Meet Your Happy Chemicals)
"Life isn't as great or as awful as it feels right now. That's just the hormones talking" - Steven Johnson (Mind Wide Open)
With knowledge comes power. There is so much to learn and comprehend within our own bodies, not to mention the vast world outside of us. Just like anything else, if you focus on what you don't know and how far you have to go in your journey, you are bringing a load of cortisol into the equation that doesn't need to be there and which does nothing good for your energy, motivation, or brain capacity.
"If you can sit through these urges [to follow the emotional pendulum swings of our attention being pulled and pushed in various directions], you will see what caused them. If you can get comfortable with what you see, you will face the next layer of causation, and so on, layer upon layer" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
"Developing the lens that enables us to see the mind more clearly stimulates the brain to grow important new connections" - Daniel Siegal (Mindsight)
"We are born for meaning, not pleasure, unless it is pleasure steeped in meaning" - Jacob Needleman
Keep moving, growing, practicing, playing, exploring, and pushing outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis.
"I'ts not the big things that add up in the end; it's the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary...The magic is in the doing of simple things repeatedly and long enough to ignite the miracle of the Compound Effect" - Darren Hardy
What if I fail? What if I get into a situation that is over my head? What if I look stupid?
"A new quest, even one that is ultimately successful, is going to involve failure. You need to create the expectation of failure - not the failure of the mission itself, but failure en route" - Dan & Chip Heath (Switch)
Be a do-er
"Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home and think about it. Go out and get busy" - Dale Carnegie
"It's like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging" - Brene Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection)
Embrace Vulnerability. When you show up, play big, lead with love and courage, it gives permission and inspiration to those around you to do the same.
"Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path...Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness" - Brene Brown (Daring Greatly)
Speak your truth and provide context for those you are interacting with.
"The best way to handle your own awkwardness or inarticulateness during an encounter is to admit openly and respectfully ask for the patience and forbearance of others" - Thomas Crane (The Heart of Coaching)
Embrace Uncertainty. Our body reacts to uncertainty the same way it reacts to a physical threat to our survival. It is important to stay curious and observe this reaction for what it is, just a thought, just a habitual reaction. You get to choose in each moment how you show up and how you engage with the world and with yourself. When you live aligned with your Core Values, you will see uncertainty as a beautiful possibility and an opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.
"Uncertainty registers as an error, gap, or tension: something that must be corrected before one can feel comfortable again...Not knowing what will happen next can be profoundly debilitating because it requires extra neural energy. this diminishes memory, undermines performance, and disengages people from the present" - David Rock (Managing with the Brain in Mind)
Stay Open and receptive. Ready to learn and grow and experience whatever life offers each moment.
"Openness implies that we are receptive to whatever comes to our awareness and don't cling to preconceived ideas about how things "should" be. We let go of expectations and receive things as they are, rather than trying to make them how we want them to be. Openness enables us to sense things clearly. It gives us the power to recognize restrictive judgments and release our minds from their grip" - Daniel Siegal (Mindsight)
"Shame breeds fear. It crushes our tolerance for vulnerability, thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust...Shame works like termites in a house. It's hidden in the dark behind the walls and constantly eating away at our infrastructure, until one day the stairs suddenly crumble" - Brene Brown (Daring Greatly)
No one determines your self-worth except for you. When we feel rejected, our body registers that as physical pain. We had a deep-rooted "need" to be accepted and loved. Learn to love yourself. Learn to be proud of your courage and your passions. Allow yourself to feel pain and feel disappointed when you don't show up the way you know you can, but then let it go. Don't waste your precious energy on thinking you know what other people are thinking. You decide your self-worth.
"When our self-worth isn't on the line, we are far more willing to be courageous and risk sharing our raw talents and gifts...Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer" - Brene Brown (Daring Greatly)
Play big. Let go of thinking that you are protecting yourself by avoiding things that scare you.
"Your mind is constantly telling you to get back into your comfort zone. This zone is finite. All attempts to stay within it keep you finite. Going beyond always means letting go o the effort to keep things within your defined limits" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Each day is different and various opportunities will be offered for you to explore and push yourself in. Our comfort zone isn't all that comfortable anyways. It keeps us confined, it keeps us small. It has the illusion of keeping us safe, but change is constant and the world will keep moving and growing regardless of whether we embrace this beautiful evolution or not. So choose growth. Your mind and body can get used to anything, you just have to lean into the initial discomfort. When we cling to comfort and safety, we end up losing precisely what we seek.
"...in our comfort zone we can only imitate what which has been done in the past. We cannot integrate the unique self with the emerging realities of the present" - Robert E Quinn (Building the Bridge as You Walk on it)
As you experience new things and allow neurons to fire in new pairings, you are retraining your brain and developing new ways to engage with the world.
"So there are two ways to live: you can devote your life to staying in your comfort zone, or you can work on your freedom. In other words, you can devote your whole life to the process of making sure everything fits within your limited model, or you can devote your life to freeing yourself from the limits of your model" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
"Neuroplasticity is the term used to describe the capacity for creating new neural connection and growing new neurons in response to experience" - Daniel Siegal (Mindsight)
"True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. This is done by constantly remembering that you are the one inside that notices the voice talking" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Balance in all things.
"All the great teachings reveal the way of the center, the way of balance. Constantly look to see if that's where you are living or if you are lost in the extremes. The extremes create their opposites; the wise avoid them. Find the balance in the center and you will live in harmony" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
What looks like balance today or in this moment, is not necessarily what balance looks like tomorrow, or in the next moment.
"The balance point is not static; it's a dynamic equilibrium . You move from balance point to balance point, from center to center" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Too much of a good thing becomes toxic. Effort and Surrender. Slow and sustainable progression, with bumps, curves, ups and downs, and occasional change of flight trajectory altogether.
"It's not efficient to oscillate around the path. To be efficient, you must center all of your energies on the path. if you do this, the energies that used to wasted swinging sideways will get pulled into the center. This concentration of energies is used to accomplish the given task much more efficiently" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Choose your battles. You do not have unlimited energy or time.
"Relieve your mind of the job of making sure that everyone and everything will be the way you need them to be so that you can feel better inside. Your mind is not qualified for the job. Fire it, and let go of your inner-problems instead" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
"The natural ups and downs of life can either generate personal growth or create personal fears. Which of these dominates is completely dependent upon how we view change. Change can be viewed as either exciting or frightening, but regardless of how we view it, we must all face the fact that change is the very nature of life" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
Develop your Mindfulness muscle.
"Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are...it simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense" - Rosamund and Benjamin Zander (The Art of Possibility)
"Be an explorer. Witness it and then it will go. If you don't get absorbed in it, the experience will soon pass and something else will come up. Just enjoy all of it. If you can do this, you will be free, and a world of pure energy will open up within you? - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
What's your Story? We learn and remember through story. We tend to think of ourselves as the main character within our own story. But that's just it, it's all story. We rarely have all the information needed to make an objective call or to have an absolute opinion or clear understanding of all of the factors involved. Regardless, we need to comprehend our own life and surroundings so we go along with our story without realizing the power our perception and choice of words has on our own well-being and mindset. Write out your story. Where do you take power away from yourself? Where do you misuse or fall victim to the concepts of regret, fear, disappointment, anger, or other cortisol driven ways of being?
"Owning your story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we'll ever do...But I know that it takes more than courage to own your story. We own our stories so we don't spend our lives being defined by them or denying them. And while the journey is long and difficult at times, it is the path to living a more whole-hearted life" - Brene Brown (Rising Strong)
Lead by example in life and know that you can only control your effort, not the outcome. When it comes to the people closest to you in your life, you may out-grow them. But don't stress about it, don't predict it, don't try to fix the people around you whatsoever. Those who want support will ask for it. And if you are fully focused on your own self-work, you will have a tribe of people coming along with you or unknowingly waiting for your arrival.
"You don't change people, you change the relationship" - Rosamund and Benjamin Zander (The Art of Possibiity)
"You have to be willing to give 100% with zero expectations of receiving anything in return" - Darren Hardy
Keep learning, practicing, and creating your own unique journey towards your best-self. No one can do it for you. You must experience life for yourself and develop your mind and body with patience, love, acceptance, and joy.
"The more you use your brain, the more brain you will have to use" - George Dorsey
"The future isn't written in the stars. There are no guarantees. So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your own certainty. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do" - Meg Jay (The defining Decade)
Whatever this means to you. I do not believe this is a destination, but rather a dynamic and ever-elusive way of being that you can potentially experience one moment and lose sight of the next moment. After years of practicing balance between effort and surrender & fear and desire, while embracing observation without judgment, intimacy without attachment, a growth mindset, mindfulness and mindsight, and practicing balanced nutrition and exercise - only then will enlightenment become truly attainable. But that is just an educated guess. ;)
"...enjoy life instead of clinging to it or pushing it away" - Micheal Singer (The Untethered Soul)
"Uncovering memory and meaning are never over until life is over" - unkown
"Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue" - Victor Frankl (Man's Search for Meaning)
Alright, that felt good to work through all of that and see it written and ready for reflection and learning. Everything is just a springboard into the next step, the next phase, the continued progression towards growth and evolution. Thanks for reading. Reach out with questions or curiosities. xo