Ayahuasca gifts us with experiences bigger and deeper than we can come to ourselves, with wisdom beyond the ego. 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. It can mean surrendering an old habit or starting a new behavior: shifting our perspective to allow for new ways of being; conversations to have, decisions to make.
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 negative thoughts, communicate more gracefully, or treat ourselves more compassionately. (Some of the skills I teach and recommend checking out: meditation, shadow work, Focusing, Non-Violent Communication, dreamwork, Emotional Freedom Technique, breathwork, loving-kindness meditation, reflective journaling, developing your intuition, rituals and altars, Voice Dialogue … )
Integration can be viewed in three stages:
- Cleaning up your act: This seems to come first. 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 ourselves that have been brought to the light. This shadow work has the potential to revolutionize our lives.
- Bringing soul to the world: Here we cultivate a way of being that is in touch with what really matters, showing up as our true selves and bringing our gifts to the world.
Read more on all this here: The World’s Best Practices for Integrating Ayahuasca
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, we 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 we 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 generate new perspectives. Simply put, integration is the process of growth and evolutionary change—and humans have been doing this pretty much forever.
When you hold this perspective, 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 game, 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 is the ongoing process of life moving into further complexity and deeper simplicity. And it is up to us to live it, to make it real.