A few days ago someone left a comment on my post asking what exactly ‘spiritual integration’ was, as they had seen the word used in so many different contexts.
I thought I would explore it further in a blog post, because it is definitely one of those phrases that gets thrown around without a lot of explanation (by myself too).
In this post we’re going to cover what spiritual integration is, why it’s so important and how to put it into practice!
What is spiritual integration?
In the simplest terms, spiritual integration is taking a metaphysical concept and embodying it in everyday life.
This can refer to mantras such as ‘we are all one’. It is one thing to recite this phrase, and another to actually see and treat other people as one.
Spiritual integration can also refer to different disciplines such as astrology. You may know everything about astrology or energy, but how do you conceptualize those concepts in your day to day life?
Rather than learning more and more about spirituality – filling the mind – actually committing to a spiritual practice.
This is a process you’ll be familiar with outside of a spiritual context too. It doesn’t matter how many cookbooks we read or instructional videos we watch about drawing, if we don’t practice that knowledge remains theoretical.
As it pertains to spirituality, this concept is sometimes more difficult to grasp. This is because the distinction between the mental, emotional and spiritual can get blurry.
Spirituality isn’t directly comparable to more technical skills like riding a bike or bodybuilding, even though there are similarities. This is because a lot of spiritual practice is internal. It involves working with the things we can’t see physically: nadis, chakras, kundalini, other types of energy etc.
Examples of spiritual integration:
- Grasping astrological concepts for daily use.
- Reading spiritual books and actually applying the knowledge.
- Taking action on your intuition.
- Making your lifestyle mindful rather than just practicing mindfulness in isolated chunks.
- Not just reciting spiritual slogans, but putting them into practice.
Spiritual integration is also an important aspect of transcendental experiences like a deep meditation, a plant medicine or trance journey etc.
These experiences bring us beyond the physical frame and allow us to experience spirit more directly. Often in spiritual practice we chase after these transcendental experiences, hoping that each meditation is going to be just as mind-blowing as the last or that plant medicine is going to give us yet another earth-shattering epiphany.
When we have a ‘breakthrough’ experience – integrating it would be to actively reflect, journal and digest what we’ve learned.
This is so that the experience doesn’t become just another thing to tick off of our list or a way to make ourselves feel more enlightened, aware or spiritually progressed than others.
What happens if we don’t practice spiritual integration?
The main reason we want to practice spiritual integration is so that we do not become ungrounded. When we are ungrounded it becomes difficult to balance the physical and spiritual aspects of our lives, and often we start to take a heavy preference over one or the other.
We become disoriented and unbalanced and shun the spiritual, afraid of what might happen if we continue to develop our spiritual senses. Or we go the other way, and shun the physical. When a problem comes up in our physical lives we push it off till later, intellectualize things, or escape into our spiritual practice rather than confront what is in front of us.
We can become attached to the ‘high’ that comes with these experiences rather than what we are learning through them. Over time, this can cause us to become detached from our physical existence. We might start to spiritually bypass, which is where we use spiritual knowledge or experience to put ourselves above others.
Another thing that can occur if we do not spiritually integrate, is the dark night of the soul.
The dark night of the soul is a period where we feel utterly disconnected from ourselves. This is a natural part of the spiritual awakening process that becomes a catalyst for deeper connection, however it can also signify that we have taken a misstep on our path.
This is a common experience for those who practice deep levels of meditation. If there isn’t the right guidance and grounding during this, you can become incredibly detached from not only the physical world but your spiritual self.
The things that used to bring you pleasure no longer do, and the coping mechanisms that used to work simply don’t.
How to practice spiritual integration
One of my biggest doubts on the spiritual path was believing that what I was doing was going to work.
I would meditate for long stretches of time in order to reach a particular state of consciousness. To experience something mind-blowing: to open my third eye, see my spirit guides or unlock a past-life memory. I was always chasing a breakthrough.
I had a lot of those experiences in a relatively short space of time, but after a few months I started to feel empty. I would experience less and less breakthroughs during meditation until there was just a kind of emptiness.
What I realized, was that it wasn’t about the apparent progress I made or the heights that I could reach with meditation, but this deep undercurrent of energy that I was consistently building.
Integrating our spirit or higher self is about shifting from chasing experiences, to deepening our commitment and practice.
Integration is bringing our spiritual practices into our regular life, and making them as mundane as brushing our teeth each day.
The crude way I like to describe this spiritual integration process, is that when we have these higher experiences which bring our consciousness or energy up to a higher level or plane temporarily.
In order to integrate these experiences properly, we have to take this energy which resides in the higher chakras and bring it down to the physical level.
1. Ground yourself
In my daily energy work practice I like to do breathwork in conjunction with visualization. The micro-cosmic orbit is a great exercise for bringing this higher energy down to a level where it can be utilized physically.
This is where you get into a meditation and breathe deeply from the stomach area. As you inhale, visualize energy coming up into the root chakra and flowing all the way up to the crown. As you exhale, go the opposite direction, creating this kind of cycle or circuit of energy.
Another grounding exercise you can do is to walk barefoot on the ground.
Journaling is another way to integrate spiritual experiences because it brings things from a mental (thought) to a physical (words on paper) level.
I recommend consistently recording the signs and synchroncities you experience down on paper. This gives you something physical to reference, but it can also be a great way to recenter yourself in periods where you don’t feel as connected to spirit.
You can also journal your transcendental experiences, such as working with plant medicine or having a trance journey. Journaling is a great way to better understand what happened and ground the experience.
3. Connect with a community
My final and most underrated tip, is to connect with a community. Preferably you want this to be a physical community, but it doesn’t have to be.
One of the main reasons people find themselves disoriented or ungrounded on the spiritual path is because they are doing the work individually; within societies and structures that push them the exact opposite way.
Even having a few close friends or a partner that you can discuss your spiritual experiences with is a great way to integrate them.
When I first got into spiritual study it felt like I was completely alone. I didn’t think anyone in my life would understand or relate to these mind-blending experiences I had had. Sure enough, some close relatives were (still are) very against my spiritual practice, but I also found people with shared experiences much closer to home than expected. I have found that people are a lot more open to these topics than you’d imagine.
Some of the friends I thought were uninterested in spirituality, were completely unfazed when I mentioned astral projection, dream interpretation or energies.
Remain discerning about who you share your spiritual experiences with (these aren’t for everyone) but don’t anticipate a cold response by default.
When it comes to joining or forming a community online, be just as discerning! Not all spiritual teachers or groups are going to be aligned with your path.