Integration & "Real Life"
The inevitable has arrived. After spending two weeks in beautiful, authentic Jamaica with 7 other women immersed in deep soul work… it was time to come back into the “Real World”. Into my daily reality. Usually after an extended period of time off, I would immediately rush back to work. Bills are due, rent is due. Not only was I not working, but I was also spending money. And I also have a job where I don’t get paid vacations. How am I going to catch up, I have to pick up extra shifts now…. Race race race… back into the rat race of life. This is how I’ve spent my life. Working extra hours, to make the extra money, to take the extra days off, to spend the money and kick back and relax. To come home and do it all again. Seems a bit counter productive. Is the vacation really worth it if there’s so much stress before and after?
Well this time I’m going to do things a little differently. This time I’m going to use the tool of integration.
Integration: to put together parts or elements and combine them into a whole.
I’m going to take everything I just experienced, learned, felt, loved, and enjoyed about my trip… and incorporate it into my daily life. You see, I think, that’s what it’s all about. How do we get to keep that serenity and peace and freedom we feel while we’re on vacation? How quickly we drop it and jump right back into the hustle bustle that is our lives. We’ve been conditioned into thinking we have to continually be on the go. If we’re not doing something, then we’re doing nothing. When in fact doing nothing is sometimes exactly the thing we need to be doing.
So I took that extra day off.
How quickly my mind cried to me… are you crazy? Rent is due in 4 days. You need to get back to work. But who am I truly serving if I just jump right back into work? Definitely not my customers, definitely not my co-workers if I come in resentful, and definitely not myself. I knew it was best for everyone to take one more day to just BE.
This is what I did…
The night I came home, I unpacked everything. Knowing I had the next day off, I wasn’t in any rush to race to bed so I could get a good night’s sleep before work. I also immediately did all my laundry. Luckily I have two machines at my place, so I get to do it pretty quickly. Then I took a long hot bath. In Jamaica, there is no hot water. 95% of the time it’s more than ok because it’s so hot there, but there’s nothing quite like a hot bath after a long trip. I soaked in the tub and just felt. I felt every inch of my body caressing the bubbles. I took deep breaths, I closed my eyes and I remembered. Remembered some of the most profound moments I had just experienced while on my time away from my “real life”.
And then, I slept. I slept better than I’d slept in months. It was incredible. I luxuriated in my sleep. I can’t remember the last time I got to do that. It was glorious. I had no idea how much I needed that. When I woke in the morning, I had a good few seconds where I thought I was still in Jamaica. Talk about integration.
I did all of my morning routine with mindfulness and patience. I was basking in my morning with grace and ease. I then decided to take a hike. Off to Temescal Canyon, by myself, and without music. I always either distract myself with company or with music when I hike. Not this time. This time it was just me and the canyon. And I took my time. It wasn’t a race to get it done because I had somewhere else to be later. I actually stopped to smell the flowers. I’d never seen so many flowers on the trail. I had a lizard guide.
He stopped with me and just took in the sights. It was kind of remarkable how long he stayed with me. And then I got to the top and sat down and did a 25 minute meditation, and I just sobbed. It was in those moments that I deeply felt the adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I don’t need to be in Jamaica to access this bliss and serenity. I don’t have to go anywhere to find my peace… I AM PEACE.
Everything is already inside of me. I can access it at anytime. All I have to do is take the time to sit in stillness. I have to give myself the gift of myself. I love who I am, so why don’t I give myself time with myself? Just me and me alone.
What a revelation. I mean, I’ve known this for while, and I’ve talked about it many many times, but this may be the first time I’ve ever felt it embodied in my life.
It was in those moments I really felt what integration is all about. Taking the time to allow yourself to experience, learn, feel, love, enjoy… the very essence of what IS my “real life”. My real life is whatever I make it. I can choose to make it the hustle and bustle 90% of the time or I can choose to take the time and create my serenity every day.
From Jamaica on Tuesday…
To LA on Thursday…
My life is BLISS, when I stop to appreciate it.
My plan for the rest of the day was to go home and sit quietly and read and write, but that is not what happened at all. I would have never in a million years thought I would spend the next 4 hours on the phone. I hate the phone! And I didn’t think devices would have anything to do with my great day of integration. What happened though, was truly phenomenal.
I had a 40 minute conversation with my brother… who I rarely get to talk to. And we had some deep discussions on life and our relationship ~ real life stuff. It was challenging and beautiful. Immediately following I talked to my sponsor for 45 minutes. Again, very unlike us. We both had some big life changes happening and wanted to share it and support each other. Such a beautiful bond I have with that woman. Tag teaming in with that conversation was about a 30 minute conversation with another girlfriend and then beeped on the other line was my sister in law from the other side of the family. And we caught up for over an hour, We hadn’t had the chance to talk in months.
If I hadn’t created the space in my “real life” to open up to my friends and family that I so desperately needed to catch up with, I would have missed one of the most transformative afternoons of my life. And this… is integration. From a week in Jamaica diving into some self work and self awareness - to a whole day in LA with an open heart and a willingness to just BE.
Now I do realize that most people won’t be able to make the time to have that last day, or even if they do, they have kids and spouses and other obligations… but I tell you this, it literally only takes but a few minutes every day to sit in meditation and reflect and breathe deeply and connect to yourself. Be gentle, be loving, give yourself the gift of yourself. Find your bliss and realize that the bliss you are looking to hold on to, is already there.
Work will be there waiting for you, your bills will be there waiting for you… all the things we have to do in life, will be there waiting for you. Can you imagine doing them with peace of mind? With comfort and ease? I went back to work today and I tell you, I had the pause with me all day. I had the bliss and the patience. I had the peace and the space. I’m so grateful I was able to find my integration and I look forward to carrying it on in my day to day life.