Originally written as a handout for a course in shamanism:
As each of us learns and grows along the shamanic path, we come to have a perspective on the significance of the different components of the path, based upon the experiences we have had. When I contemplate the topic of integration, I realize immediately that it is a deeply personal process. As I think about what it has come to mean to me, one word comes immediately to mind: Change.
Change is the one constant in life. Every time something changes, whether it is a birth or a death, a new job or winning the lottery, a professional healing session or a personal journey, you have to determine how best to incorporate the changes as you move forward. In effect, you must integrate the new life events into how you live and process information. Integration, by definition, is a process for change. If you think you are integrating an experience, but nothing in your thought processes or your life has changed, then I would challenge you to rethink how well you are integrating what you have learned. I strongly believe that it is impossible to integrate anything successfully, and have everything in your life stay the same.
As I thought about what I wanted to share with you about integration, the challenge became immediately apparent: Every person and every journey is unique. There are no hard and fast rules of how to integrate what we bring back from our journeys. So, what I have decided to do is to share my perspective on integration. I hope that there are seeds within these words that you can use to find ways to approach your own integration work.
When I journey and bring back soul pieces or information, integration is a way for me to honor both the connection to spirit and the knowledge that has been brought back. I am able to think and live from a new place, when I add the knowledge gained into my life. Like peering through a window that was dirty but has been cleaned, the world looks different when I allow integration to change my point of view. This new perspective may well heal me, or give added insight to events in my life, but it is also a bonding between me and the spirits.
Sometimes the changes in my world are small and cumulative, while other times they can be truly and dramatically life changing. No matter the scope, I use the following general techniques to help with the integration process:
- I document what I have been given and where it leads
- Whether it is at the time of the journey or as soon as I can afterward, I write out my journey, or my impressions of what I have been told when someone journeyed for me. I may put down some first impressions about the implications of what I have been given. If this was in a circle, I may also include what insights others may have shared. As I move forward with integrating the change in my life, I also journal the process.
- I try to remain open to nudges from spirit
- Whether it is my daily meditation practice or a habit I am trying to develop of listening within, I try to remain aware of synchronicities, or their opposites – a desire to do something outside my normal routine. I am not a very habit-based person, so this means trying to remain very aware of my own motivations. If I am thinking about a recent journey when my rune bag catches my eye, it may well be time to sit down and cast the stones to deepen my understanding of the journey.
- Integration means change
- Thinking about the journey information and drawing a mindmap, journaling, tarot or runes are all well and good, but they are simply the prep-work for incorporating some type of change into my life. An insight may change how I process information. I may get a suggestion to change a habit I have had for years. I may be healed of a past trauma, changing how I see the world. No matter the details, integrating the information isn’t complete until I start living it out.
I would also mention that I have found it is an easy trap to continually go to the same comfortable techniques when working on integration. Although there is nothing wrong with frequently turning to the tarot, for example, I have found that it is often when stepping outside my comfort zone that I get the most powerful insights. Since I journal the whole process, it is possible for me to look back and note patterns that can make me question if I am creating a habit rather than listening to the nudges within.
Integration work is some of the most important soul-work we can do, so find the ways that work for you and make them a part of your spiritual practice. Your life will change. Your spiritual connections will strengthen, and you will grow as a person.