On Integration

Ayahuasca integrationAyahuasca gifts us with experiences bigger and deeper than we can come to ourselves. With a depth of wisdom arising from beyond our egoic identity, it reveals the bottom-line truth of our psyches. The intelligence of the medicine shows us exactly what we need to see, when we need to see it.

It’s up to us to implement these realisations. Integration is the process of growing into new ways of being, as we translate our insights into direct action. This can mean surrendering an old habit or starting a new behavior, shifting our perspective to allow for new ways of being, having new conversations, making new decisions.

Sometimes it’s about refining our perceptions into a more generous understanding of a situation or person. Or learning new ways of working with ourselves—how to release critical thoughts, communicate more gracefully, or treat ourselves more compassionately.

Practical skills like these can revolutionize our lives when they’re applied consistently and capably. Some of the practices and persepctives I weave into integration sessions include:

  • meditation
  • shadow work
  • Focusing
  • Somatic Experiencing
  • grounding
  • parts work (IFS, Voice Dialogue)
  • Non-Violent Communication
  • dreamwork
  • connecting with your inner child at various stages and ages
  • Emotional Freedom Technique
  • breathwork
  • loving-kindness and compassion meditations
  • Systemic Family Constellation Work
  • reflective journaling
  • cultivating your intuition
  • creating rituals and altars . . .

. . . and more. My 10-week online Integrating Ayahuasca program touches on many of these in greater depth and detail.

All this said, learning to pay attention to what’s happening in your body in the present moment is, to my mind, the linchpin and keystone of integration work, healing, and growth.

Aspects of Integration

There are limitless ways to slice the integration pie. Here’s one possibility:

    • Cleaning up your act: Often this seems to come first when you start working with ayahuasca. Diet, habits, mindset, work, relationships—all are up for transformation in the weeks following ceremony.
    • Assimilating unconscious material: Learning to first tolerate, then understand, and finally integrate rejected aspects of yourself that have been brought to the light. This kind of shadow work has the potential to transform your life, from the bottom up.
    • Bringing soul to the world: Cultivating a life that’s in touch with what really matters, showing up as your true self and bringing your gifts to the world.

Read more on all this here: The World’s Best Practices for Integrating Ayahuasca

I don’t mean to imply that these phases are to be moved through in linear order, checking each one off as it’s completed. Rather, it can involve an ongoing spiral of evolution, as we dip into and explore each aspect more and more deeply.

All three of these levels of integration require tools and practices to support transformation—practical ways to work with body, spirit, heart and mind. At minimum, you need to know how to deal with difficult emotions and destructive mental patterns, and how to sustain a healthy body that is both grounded on Earth and connected with Spirit. If you have any insufficiencies in these areas, ayahuasca will expose them. It’s not the medicine’s job to magically remedy these deficits; it’s our work—integration work—to grow into new ways of being.

Integration is an open-ended process that continues throughout life. A basic definition of integration is “to combine two things so they become a whole.” We naturally integrate as we take in new information and develop new perspectives. Simply put, integration is the process of growth and evolutionary change—and humans have been doing this pretty much forever.

When you live with this understanding, you begin to notice how wisdom is always showing up in everyday circumstances, offering insights that in the past you might have ignored. Walking this path, you may discover you’ve upped your karmic ante, as you begin to see how life is always offering you exactly what you need—even if it’s not exactly what you want.

There is always room for more on the path of growth. The integration process does not end—ever. It’s the ongoing process of life moving into further complexity and deeper simplicity. And it’s up to us to live it, to make it real.