Some months ago I had a long, deep discussion with a very dear friend of mine who has stage 4 cancer. She has led and continues to maintain a whole and fulfilling life, full adventure and respectful spontaneity. Like all of us, it is a life filled with both joy and sorrow, albeit perhaps a bit more pronounced. As we talked through the night, our discussion turned to the meaning of integrity. Specifically, how does one know/recognize when, or if, they reach it? This is a question, or idea, that I have been thinking about ever since. It has opened and inspired some fascinating and exciting revelations.
When most people think of the word ‘integrity’, they think of honesty, trustworthiness, or truthfulness, and strong moral principles. A virtuous and ethical life. But what about other meanings? A common definition is “an unimpaired condition,” like structural integrity. Still, there are other concepts that come to mind, such as “a state whole and undivided.” In short, unity…or yoga.
Integrity, then, can be all encompassing, both within us (spiritual) and around us (environment). A melding of the two is something to aspire to.
When we take a stance in our life, upholding an opinion, stand up for a cause, how sound is our foundation? How solid are our facts? Many times in life, if we have the calmness of mind, and aren’t afraid to look, we might find that we actually don’t know as much as we thought about some of our strongest positions.
Rather than assessing someone else’s integrity, this month I invite us to go deep within ourselves to take time to “clean our inner house”, to look inward and tend to the stability of our own foundation.
Each day, we reinforce neurological connections based on our thought patterns and our movement patterns. This month we take the time to cultivate awareness (the first of the three Lila Yoga steps into integration – 1. Cultivate Awareness, 2. Practice Mindfulness, 3. Allow integration.) As we look inward and become aware of our integrity, or lack thereof, let’s be brave and not egocentric. It’s a time to learn and open pathways to greater knowing & stability.
It might also be worth looking at the word stability. We are part of the universe, an ever-changing oneness. Our perspective is unique and based on many influences. Recognizing this might be useful. Perhaps stability is the ability to stay mindful within the ever-changing present and to recognize these influences. Some influences clarify, some distort, all are quite convincing if we don’t sit quietly and objectively.
The ability to sit in one’s own confidence, experience, and objectively assess clarity, is an extraordinarily powerful and sophisticated way of being.
It also entails recognizing when it is of use to consult with worthy authority and knowing that to do so does not diminish our own standing but is yet another level of sophistication and security.
Structural, energetic, social, anatomical, and communicative integrity frees us to join a path of unity, the very essence of yoga. Our goal/interest in practicing yoga is to experience a state of unity, or harmony, not only within the individual self but how we relate to our environment, or indeed our world. This state of being is a wildly powerful experience and when you have it there’s no mistaking that it is special and not ‘of-the-mind-stuff.’ It is complete. It is often called meditation.
Often in yoga, postures are practiced to prepare the body for a state of meditation. One of the beautiful offerings of Lila Yoga is to experience meditation in motion, or yoga within asana, where the individual body/mind is experienced as a force-field of structural presence that can unite with universal forces, offering synergetic energy in the great cosmic inter-play of prana and life–Lila Yoga.
I encourage everyone to engage in a practice of integrity. I’m speaking to all of us because I truly believe that this is a powerful tool for all of us. It is my hope that it will inspire each of us to act with a greater level of informed clarity.
With Love & Respect for us all and the great journey of living & learning…