One of the lessons I was reminded of on our recent trip to the Amazon was that it takes time and effort to integrate a spiritual experience. As I told our group on the trip, “Don’t be an experience junkie. Integration is key to spiritual wisdom”.
Peru was an incredibly heart opening experience. But like many trips that involve taking a deep look at our own soul, the work can be challenging. We are confronted with the deepest parts of our own humanity and all that we have to heal, and in turn receive tremendous wisdom and insights about who we are and what we’re here to do. The personal work is always balanced with beautiful moments trekking through the jungle, meditating on mountain tops, and having our hearts burst wide open. We are all high from the experience and couldn’t imagine life any other way.
But then, we fly home and reality hits. Re-entry can be hard as we’re faced with how our (external) life actually is. We start to think “if I could just go back, then everything will be better! “
In a class I was taking years ago, it was said that anyone can be blissful sitting on a mountain top meditating. The trick is how to be that way when day-to-day life throws challenges our way, a co-worker is being annoying, your kids are on meltdown, or finances are strained. When these challenges hit, most of us start daydreaming about the next trip, the next ceremony, or the next experience to give us that high and return us to the feeling we once had. We think THEN we can be spiritual again, or get back to being in the “right zone” to have our hearts open again.
But too often, the experience becomes the addiction, a spiritual high we crave to feed our desire to connect and be loved.
In the work John and I do, we’ve had several people return time and time again to ceremony, telling us they’ve been to several other such experiences in the same month (or even the same week). Its not because they needed it or were actively working a process – all of which are great and at times necessary – but we could tell it was simply because they wanted the “high” of the experience, thinking they were being spiritual or getting spiritual wisdom just because they showed up.
The thing is, spiritual wisdom doesn’t come from experiences. It comes from your integration of experiences.
What did you heal?
What did you let go of?
What did you learn about yourself?
What did Spirit communicate to you about our planet, humanity, or your greater purpose?
If you were lucky enough to have any of these, its what you do with those insights that matter. Did you change on the inside, but your outside life is just the same? How can you take steps to create a life that supports who you are now – or who you are becoming? How do you nurture and expand on the wisdom you received – no matter how big or small?
To the shamans it is said it takes 3 moons (3 months) to integrate the seeds of change from an energetic experience. Those 3 months are just the initial seeding, after which you still need to nurture them to grow and blossom all around you. I encourage each of you to make sure you take time to integrate any sacred experience you have, be it a life-changing trip or a simple meditation that opened your heart.
Integration doesn’t happen in a day, or even a week. You should journal about your insights, create an altar, make a sand painting, share it with others, and spend time in stillness asking that the insights expand and integrate in to your life. Revisit them over several months. How have you changed since the experience? The key is then putting them in to practice so you can eventually share and speak about your newfound wisdom – not because you simply had an experience, but because you’ve taken the time to fully internalize, understand, and integrate them in to your body, mind, and soul.
Is it then, and only then, that we can stand fully in our power and speak from a place of true wisdom that will impact all of those around you.