As I walked off the plane, I realized something was off. I did not have the balance and vitality that have become natural to my way of being. I slogged my way through the rest of the weekend and ended up with a fever on Monday.
It had been a hard week of travel that included many social events, customer meetings and being introduced to people who are on my team, but I had never met face to face. I had not been disciplined to my routine and my travel “best practices” had become rusty. Also not helping, were the many late nights and spirits from mixologists that could make any non-drinker indulge.
My body, heart and soul were begging for attention. In the midst of the pandemic, I had established a practice attentive to my integral being. Now, unaccustomed to the week’s work pace these same elements felt ignored and deserted. The integral essence of my practice was what had been missing.
The Importance of an Intentional Integral Practice
For long-time practitioners, we can sometimes become numb to the positive influence this practice has on our well-being. Our individual and community potential is at stake when we engage our practice. Not only do we increase the likelihood of realizing our individual potential, we also affect the vitality of our community when we’re able to fully show up in the world.
Many of the superpowers we enhance through practice are the result of attention and transformative intention. In my example above, I became ill because I was not attending to my body. The wisdom of my body dims when I am not nurturing its needs. If one is not healthy physically, or is suffering from pain or illness, how can they reach their highest potential?
This is the same for the heart. The practice of staying current is so important for our hearts to stay healthy. If we carry emotional baggage with us to our practice and throughout our day, the possibility of our best self fades into the abyss. Practicing staying current, engaging in programs like The Ki of Cooperation and non-violent communication all help to encourage stable emotional balance. This is extremely important for the heart to support our daily performance.
Equally important in our transformation is the mind’s evolution. It is not only a matter of ongoing learning but also of conscious awareness of what our mind is ingesting. I continually hear people referring to themselves as suffering from ADHD. I wonder, “do they really suffer from ADHD or has technology encouraged their ADHD through multi-tasking?” Our minds are so inundated with information from our phones and immediate accessibility it can be a challenge to stay focused and intentional under constant stimulation.
Our souls require time to do the things it longs for. Engaging with our hobbies, hikes in the forest, bike rides along a nature path, journaling on our back porch with a cup of coffee. The soul needs expression and without attention its voice is muted. The soul’s voice is ever-present but subtle and timely. As the world speeds up, the soul risks being left behind.
Finding Daily Opportunities for Transformative Integration
While the Kata is an extremely effective way to integrate and support body, mind, heart and soul evolution, I sought to bring these quadrants of being together through another passion – exercise. Inspired by a discussion with ITPI president Pam Kramer on Divine Fitness, I began to pursue an Integral Fitness experience to encourage integrative transformation of body, mind, heart and soul.
I found great opportunity in my daily strength training routine. My strength training practice has all the ingredients required to integrate and elevate the quadrants of my being. First, it is my soul that longs for strength training. It asks of me to show up strong, lean and fit. It appreciates the noticeable improvement exercise has on me. My emotions are calmed as tension is released through muscle contraction and expansion. The breath work I utilize also calms my emotions and regulates my heartbeat. The presence required to handle the weights and perfect my form aligns my mind. My body is nurtured by the challenge of building strength and stretching.
As ITP co-founder George Leonard reminds us: “A centered body leads to a centered life.” This is what was missing while I traveled. It longed for integration and balance. After a strength training workout, I meet the day afresh with possibility. My mind is acute and focused. My body is stretched and toned. My heart at ease. My soul is full. This provides the possibility for me to be my best. I represent myself and our community in the world as a high performer.
Find the activity that brings your body, mind, heart and soul together. You always have the kata to meet you on the mat. It has been a fun and enriching experience to integrate my practice at the gym and my productivity has been high. The heart and soul always have answers that align with your personal spark. Bring love to your practice and as ITP co-founder Michael Murphy says, “…watch it blossom.”