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Friday Thoughts on Integration

June 25, 2010

When I went home to The Netherlands in May, one of the things I ran into again is the difference in work/life balance between North Americans and Europeans. The people that I talked to about vacation time could hardly believe that I only have two weeks per year, and that this is so normal for so many people in North America. They felt four weeks is an absolute necessity. Now, yes, this might be an easy thing to get upset about. But I look at it both ways; It’s not that I wouldn’t love to get more vacation time, but at the same time it is what it is and it forces me to be even more aware of what energizes me and how to really make good use of my down-time.

I first learned the idea of integration from Christine Kane, who coaches on creativity and how to live life creatively and consciously. She talked about rest in a way that made sense to me. I always like learning about life, which is great, but then there is that part of me that always seems to be striving for something. Christine Kane said that one of her coaches taught her to take time for ‘deliberate boredom’, in which she had to set time aside for doing nothing, not even distracting herself by reading. I’ve used this at times when I know I need a little time out, but when I most resist doing that. Setting my timer and sitting down with nothing to distract me can be helpful. I don’t always make it through the whole 10 minutes or whatever goal I set for myself, but it is oddly energizing to set just a few minutes aside for doing nothing at all. What she calls integration is taking that time when you’re going through times in your life when big learning curves are happening and rather than letting them take over your life, consciously setting time aside to process and allowing yourself the downtime to let it become a part of you. This sounds so easy, but it can be so hard to practice at times!

Lately, I’ve been pre-occupied with the likes of this:

I’m taking a spring class in Biology, which is not my strongest subject. Keeping my focus on it has been a real challenge and I feel like even when I’m not doing it, there’s this inner struggle between the part of me that just feels angry that I’m having to put so much of my time and energy into something I don’t enjoy at all and the calm part of me that’s able to just say: “Hey, it’s only 15 more days. You can do it. You’ll be glad you did this when it’s over.”

It’s at times like this – or any time of experiencing pressure that it is the hardest to truly rest. I feel like even when I’m doing other things, I tend to carry the tension in my body. But that makes it even more important to take the time to do this. Because without time for rest, and integration of new information, I start to feel stuck and like I move in circles rather than forward.

I came across the term integration in my Biology studies as well and because I was thinking about this, I paid extra attention. It is talking about the Central Nervous System (CNS) and it says:

The CNS performs information processing and integration, summing up the input it receives from all over the body. The CNS reviews the information, stores the information as memories, and creates the appropriate motor responses.

This is something our body does constantly, outside of the realm of our awareness. It processes all the stimuli our body receives and decides what action to take. It is just a good reminder that my mind and emotions need this too.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2010 12:24 am

    i’ve been to a songwriting class that christine taught- really loved that mud, green, etc? cd of hers. how cool that you made that reference to her!

  2. June 27, 2010 9:16 am

    I love the idea of deliberate boredom. I treasure plane rides for the reason that there is NOTHING that I have to do and hours to sit and be bored . . . Great post!

  3. June 28, 2010 4:18 pm

    Thank you for the links… loved, loved, loved this post – so insightful. And how did you get a picture of my cat?! Just kidding, but it could be him… truly.

  4. June 28, 2010 11:33 pm

    mooi geschreven zus :) zijn we niet super geschapen..dat onze hersens dat zo kunnen zonder dat we er moeite voor hoeven doen! moewah voor posting it :)

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